Building an Employer Brand

Organizations, today, are working towards talent optimization. They have come to realize that creating a standout employer brand is essential to have ‘people advantage’. Talent and marketing are the new sides of a branding coin. It has become essential for organizations to position themselves in an attractive way and communicate the company identity and work culture in a compelling manner.

Dramatic Shift in Hiring Approach

Why employer branding is one of the most talked about subjects in the business world is because of the apparent shortage of labor. Despite increasing population of graduates, it’s difficult to find people who have the right skills to enter the world of work. Moreover, a massive percentage of baby boomers is about to retire, which is posing a challenge of finding the fit for hard-to-fill positions. Not that Gen Y and millennials are less capable of doing things than baby boomers but they have a different style of working. The three generations don’t necessarily share the same values. Therefore, employers are feeling a dramatic shift in their hiring approach.

What Employees Want?

The rise of millennials in the workforce also means that the companies will need to invest more than ever in retaining the talent. This is because employees today expect much more than a stable income and promotion once-in-few-years. They must provide an open and free work culture alongside all possible amenities and facilities, competitive compensation and benefits while taking care of their overall well being.

Employer branding is no longer about expanding business and being present worldwide. Rather it’s about delivering compelling experiences to employees and talent alike, on a daily basis.

Important Questions to Ask before Undertaking the Task of Building an Employer Brand

Every professional wants to associate with an organization of repute. And same is true for organizations when it comes to hiring talent. They want to recruit winning teams. However, before organizations begin undertaking the task of building an employer brand, there are several important questions to consider. As each organization is different, the challenges faced are different; the target audience is different. And above all, required skills are different. It’s also true for the same organization in different talent markets.

  1. What is the main challenge an organization is facing ?

    First of all, you have to identify the problem. That’s how it begins. What is the main challenge that you face? Do you:

    • Find it difficult to attract the candidates with the right skills?
    • Experience high employee turnover rate?
    • Have trouble retaining top talent?

    Asking these questions is like searching your organization’s soul. Once you understand the challenge, you move on with immense clarity.

  2. Who’s your target audience?

    You know what challenges you are facing. Considering it the base, identify your target audience. Find answers to these questions:

    • What does your target audience expect?
    • What do they find of value?
    • What are they looking for in a future employer?
    • What tools are they using to find jobs?

    The answers of these questions will vary depending upon the age, experience and lifestyle of your target audience. Gen X professionals will have different expectations than Gen Y and millennials.

  3. Why would your target audience want to work for you?

    What are the most compelling characteristics of your organization? Be objective. It’s about exploring and counting reasons why people would want to join your organization. Compare yourself with others in the industry and analyze your strong and weak points. Remember, the process is about finding what you currently offer and not about what you aspire to be when you have the right candidate on board. Think about:

    • Work culture
    • Compensation and benefits
    • Work schedules
    • Employee wellness/healthcare facilities
    • Paid off-time and other benefits

    If you think, these are not up to the mark, address these problems before you begin with your employer branding campaign takes off the ground.

  4. What is the hiring process at your organization?

    Critically analyze the hiring process at your organization. Sometimes, application process is so casual that potential candidates don’t even apply for an opening. Or the job description looks really boring. Look at your hiring process from a candidate’s point of view. What would compel you to apply for a job?

    And if they are applying, do they ever receive a confirmation email from you? Take these factors into account and identify the loopholes in the process.

  5. What is the current perception about you internally and in the job market?

    What your previous and existing employees have to say about you? Are they spreading good things about you? Do they love working for the company? No, if the employee turnover rate is high.

    The number of resumes and type of candidates applying for jobs at your organizations must give you sufficient hints about how you’re perceived in the job market. You should try and understand how this is affecting your ability to attract the right people. Find out the reasons and work towards eliminating them.

Once you find answers to all these questions, you can build a strategy defining how to go about employer brand creation. However, it’s important to remember that employer branding is:

  • A comprehensive recruiting strategy
  • A meticulously defined and focused corporate message
  • A long term vision
  • Not an advertising campaign
  • Not a short term movement
  • Not a quick fix

Strategic Approach to Employer Branding

Organizations are compelled to take a strategic approach to employer branding. This is because workplace is now a psychological battlefield, containing millennials as a bigger chunk. And they have an upper hand because they can multitask; they are tech-savvy; they want to try out everything; they have least hesitations; they know how to walk the talk; their priorities are simple and straight; and they want to do only what they love to do.

This generation is more interested in self employment, entrepreneurship and in jobs that offer them freedom and convenience to work on their own. So, devising a strategy to attract quality talent makes sense in today’s business scenario. Following are important steps to building a working employer brand strategy:

  1. Research, Research and More Research: After all, what you perceive about yourself and what others perceive of you can be different. So, you need to research to understand the loudest and weakest aspects of your employer brand. Interview your executives, converse with your employees and get out interacting with professionals what they look for in prospective employers.

  2. Develop Employee Value Proposition: Based on your research, craft your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Be careful while doing this because it’s the message that you’ll be sending out to your employees. It’s a promise to existing and potential employees. And whatever you say, you should mean it. Also remember, you need not turn the way your organization operates upside down. Initially, you may just want to tweak HR policies and practices and then introduce new things one by one.

  3. Define Your Message: The foundation of a very successful employer branding is the message you convey. As a business, you must make a dedicated effort to ensure that you stand for something meaningful – something that you can be proud of and communicate it to others. However, what that ‘something’ is absolutely depends on what’s close to your heart and what your target audience finds value in.

  4. Communicating Your Employer Brand: Once you define your messaging, it’s time to roll it out for your target audience. You can send messages through:

    • Company intranet
    • Training materials
    • Employee induction and orientation programs
    • Your company’s career center
    • Your website
    • Your recruitment advertising
    • Social media
    • Local or national media
    • Events and job fairs

    Convey the messages at regular intervals. Just don’t be abrupt. You can afford to neither bombard your audience nor indulge in sudden communication with them.

  5. Evaluate Your Success: Without analyzing results, you won’t be able to determine whether your employer branding campaign is a success or failure. Evaluation is essential, so that you can adjust or modify the process and messaging, making it more suitable for the audience. Analyze employee turnover rate, cost per hire, flow of applications, employee engagement level, brand attractiveness and employee satisfaction surveys.

Making Your Employer Brand Authentic – A Checklist

What’s important after launching your employer branding campaign is making your organization look and feel authentic and credible. Here is a 6-point checklist to ensure this:

  • Deliver an exclusive brand experience by providing insights into the working of your organization.

  • Talk the talk and walk the walk. Do what you believe in and what you have promised your audience. But you don’t need to twist the truth; rather be a fair and straight laced organization.

  • Listen and engage with your audience through various means. It’s an ongoing process. Listen to the conversations going around your brand, pick your points and engage your audience.

  • Remain in sync with your corporate brand. The employer brand must add to your overall brand reputation and possess some key elements of your corporate brand.

  • Visually stimulate your employees by posting the events’ pictures or giving snapshots of a typical day at work. Share how employees have fun and what they have achieved.

  • Tap into the passive talent by connecting with them, engaging in discussions and marketing the open positions.

Common Mistakes Organizations Make When Developing Their Employer Brand

Mistakes are unavoidable. However, they shouldn’t discourage you to continue with your employer branding campaign. But if you know about the most probable mistakes and pitfalls, chances are that you’re able to avoid them. Here we’ve compiled a list of mistakes that most organizations make while undertaking the task of employer brand building:

  • Jump starting with employer branding campaign: Most organizations jump start with their employer branding campaign, without taking into account what they offer, what they need to improve and what workforce wants. This is a surefire way to turn it into an unsuccessful undertaking.

  • Not being true to yourself: Most organizations turn blind eye to their weaknesses and don’t care to overcome them. For building a strong employer brand, it’s necessary to have an accurate depiction about your organization’s current standing.

  • Talking to happy employees: Obviously, you’re never going to find out what you need to improve, if you keep talking to happy employees. You have already managed to convert them. What you need to do is to convert those who still haven’t. So, what they think and how they perceive your brand needs to be considered.

  • No real changes: You have great content delivered to your audience in every nook and corner but it’s useless if no real change is happening. You need to walk the walk after talking the talk.

  • Neglecting key touch points: It’s important to provide a positive experience at all touch points. Most organizations care not to go deeper into conversations and craft meticulous communications. This hinders you from bringing desired results.

Delivering an excellent employer brand experience is the key to keep talent interested in you and create a wider pool of candidates with the right skill-sets. You must dedicate yourself to examine your current status, identify your needs and draft clear communication and treat your employees as your biggest assets to become a preferred employer.

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