The Importance of an Employer Branding Strategy
Whether your business is aware of it or not, it has an employer brand. While marketing professionals have long been developing techniques to attract and communicate to prospective customers effectively and build loyalty, less time has traditionally been spent marketing organisations to current and potential employees.
There’s a war for talent, and businesses looking to recruit are doing so in a candidate-led market. For the first time that anyone can remember, there are more vacancies than unemployed people in the UK. Attracting and retaining the best talent is going to be a challenge, requiring businesses to understand and communicate their employer brand more effectively. Branding is not just a tool for attracting consumers – it is also essential for talent acquisition.
While this is not necessarily new, it’s become more essential than ever, with applicants paying more and more attention to the image and company culture of prospective employers. Research by Glassdoor shows that more than 50% of employees place more value on a company’s culture than even salary. And what’s more, organisations with weak a weak employer brand are having to pay 10% more to candidates than those with strong brands.
All of this is to suggest that businesses need to get their employer branding strategy just right to attract and recruit top talent and boost their talent retention. For organisations hiring in the current market, this is essential.
What is an employer brand?
As with your customer-facing brand, your employer brand encompasses your reputation and the way that you are perceived by the public. It is the way in which your organisation stands out in the hiring market. It includes your company’s culture and the way this is communicated both to current employees and to job seekers. In short, it is the way your company is thought of and viewed both internally and externally.
Employer branding connects your organisation’s values, policies, and culture. It is the way in which your company can differentiate itself from competitors and other organisations, and the way that you promote this identity to the candidates you are looking to attract, as well as current employees. It is not only a compelling story to tell to job seekers, but also reflects the true experience of working for your organisation.
The better your employer brand, the more able you are to hire top talent. Whether you are actively thinking about your brand or not, it plays a significant role in talent acquisition, with surveys showing that 86% of workers are less likely to apply for – or continue working at – a company with a bad reputation. With platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, candidates have more tools than ever to investigate and evaluate your company’s reputation. Action is required for your company to remain competitive in the current recruitment landscape.
What is employer branding?
If your employer brand describers your businesses’ reputation as an employer, then your employer branding is the activities you undertake to promote that brand. Central to your employer branding is how you can communicate your employee value proposition (EVP).
- Employer branding activities will include:
- Creating and maintaining an attractive career page
- Managing profiles on job boards
- Sharing employee success stories, testimonials, or pictures of your workers on social media channels
- Managing employer review sites such as Glassdoor
- The way in which you promote your job ads and vacancies
- Improving your interview techniques
- Managing candidate experience through the hiring process
All these activities will help to communicate and define your EVP in the eyes of prospective employees and applicants and should represent key elements of your recruitment process. But to effectively carry out employer branding activities, you will need an effective strategy in place to define and measure your recruitment objectives.
Building an employer branding strategy
According to LinkedIn, 80% of talent acquisition managers say that employer branding has a major impact on organisations ability to attract and recruit talent. Defining your employer branding strategy then, is crucial to improving recruitment and talent retention.
As with all business strategies, this will be shaped by both the short-term and long-term needs of your organisation. What are the objectives of your business of the next 12 months and beyond, and what are the talent gaps within the organisation that could affect your ability to realise those goals? Align your branding strategy to the needs of your organisation.
With your strategy connected to the goals of your business, you will need to consider the realistic and actionable objectives that can help you reach these goals. Doing so will help you define the metrics for success and the relevant KPIs to track the success of these objectives. These KPIs could be:
- Reducing the cost per hire
- Getting a higher volume of applications
- Increasing the number of applications through social media channels
- Increasing the number of visitors to your careers site
- Increasing the offer-acceptance rate
It is likely your organisation will have some tools already in place to help measure your progress against these goals, and this is where technology such as an Applicant Tracking System can benefit your organisation, giving you a clearer view of your progress against these metrics and allowing you to generate reports for stakeholders around key recruitment metrics, and providing visibility to hiring managers.
Next you must consider messaging – how do you want to be perceived as an employer and how does that differ from how you might currently be perceived? How do you effectively communicate your company culture and employer brand to prospective employees?
To do this successfully, you will need to carry out an audit on the current perception of your brand, which you can do by examining social media, employment review sites, and through conducting surveys with existing employees.
Exit interviews can also be valuable to understand what your existing employees think and identifying areas within the business that are harming talent retention.
Understanding this perception is crucial to defining your employer brand strategy. But building this strategy is only half the battle – next you need to consider how you are going to implement this strategy.
Tips for implementing an employer branding strategy
Identify the ideal candidate persona
As with your customer-facing marketing strategy, understanding who you are targeting and why will allow you to tailor your messaging more effectively. Who is the ideal person you are looking to hire? What is their age, title, and education? What skills do they possess? What are their goals and aspirations? What is the right personality type to fit into your company culture?
Once you have a clear understanding of what this candidate might look like, you must then consider the channels that they use when searching for jobs or investigating employers. Are they more likely to search for roles on social media? What sources do they trust, and how are they most likely to be influenced?
Understanding who you want to hire is going to help to focus your messaging and what aspects of your business you are looking to promote and when. The next step is evaluating where your message is going to be heard.
Define the channels for promoting your employer brand
The touchpoints you have with candidates during the hiring process make up the candidate journey. There are numerous channels you can use to promote your brand and reach the personas you are looking to target. How you use these channels are going to depend on the types of candidates you are targeting, but will include:
- Your company website
- Your career page
- Professional networks
- Social media
But also consider the touchpoints during the recruitment – the effective communication before and after interviews, the interviews themselves, and even the application process.
When considering these channels, its also worth noting how your existing employees are engaging with social networks, workshops, and events. These employees must be good brand ambassadors and must understand how to communicate the message of your employer brand both on and offline.
Define your EVP
As we mentioned above, your employer value proposition is so important to your employer brand. You must have a clear understanding of why your employees have chosen to work for your organisation and why they stay.
The most important aspects to consider around your EVP are:
- Compensation – are the salaries you offer fair and competitive? Are your employees satisfied with their pay?
- Benefits – what is the holiday, parent leave, pension packages etc that you offer? How flexible are you willing to be for your employees?
- Career – what are the opportunities for learning and development within your organisation? Are their clear routes for career progression?
- Work environment – what is the work-life balance like at your organisation? Do your employees feel recognised for their achievements and are they granted respect and autonomy?
- Culture – what is the example set by management and leadership within the organisation? Is there a supportive, collaborative, and trusting environment for new employees to thrive in?
Your EVP is the core part of the message that you will communicate to your targeted personas, so it needs to be tailored to be resonant with the types of candidates you are looking to hire.
Have the right tools and technology to measure success
Based on the goals and metrics you have already defined, you need to be able to measure the success with the right recruitment tools. Using an Applicant Tracking System can help you to gain insight and visibility of how you are performing against your goals, and help you track the relevant data.
Find out more
Are you looking for more insights into how your candidates think, feel and act during the recruitment journey? From research to attitudes towards online interviews, we cover it all in Candidate Behaviour: The Big Report – one of the most comprehensive research reports in the industry.
Created in partnership with Monster, we asked jobseekers across the country, of all ages and working in a wide range of sectors, to tell us how they act, think and feel during the hiring process. So, for a deep dive into your candidates and how they feel, download your report today!