The question of how important an organisation’s employer branding is could be answered in a single sentence: If your objective is to maximise your organisation’s equity by attracting, motivating and retaining the best talent, it pays to get your employer branding right. It really is that simple – the tricky part is how to translate this in practice.
The need to create an employer brand that would not only attract external candidates but help re-engage your internal employees as well remains a top priority for business. Despite the economic recovery once again following an upward projectory, the war for talent continues unabated and the need to attract and retain top performers remains critical to continued business success.
By distinguishing your business from your competition, conveying your values and playing to your strengths you can ensure that your organisation stays ahead of the game and becomes an employer of choice: cue your employer brand.
But what exactly is your employer brand?
There is a saying: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’. Your employer brand is a direct reflection of your organisation’s ‘personality’ and how it is perceived both internally and externally. It is an ongoing practice, or work in progress if you like, which takes into account all that you are and all that you do.
Essentially, it serves as the key differentiating factor which reinforces the reason why talented people want to work for – and stay with – your organisation.
Much debate has been raised in recent months over the way in which HR and Marketing position their organisation’s employer brand, from the perspective of whether employees should be considered to be ‘customers’ or not.
One camp argues that employer branding doesn’t have a customer to address, suggesting that the majority of companies fail to differentiate their employer brands. This camp collectively accuses organisation’s of claiming a common set of shared adjectives as their own, such as ‘innovative’, ’empowering’, ‘dynamic’, or ‘integrity’.
The opposing camp, however, argues to the contrary. Whilst acknowledging that there are organisation’s whose corporate straplines and raison d’être are much of a muchness, it affirms that employer branding most certainly does in fact have a customer base.
They dismiss the ‘adjectives’ generalisation made by the first camp by sharing the many examples of organisation’s who have and continue to demonstrate their uniqueness – one of which being Google.
Respected and an unquestionably attractive employer brand, Google utilises the tagline ‘Do cool things that matter’. It makes no mention of the cliched innovation, integrity or empowering adjectives suggested above and it retains its position firmly at the top of the most desirable companies to work for list.
Innocent are also in defiance. Their strapline, somewhat lengthy by comparison to Google, also avoids the so-called marketing-speak that is associated with many leading brands. They follow with:
…and we’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too).
But of course, the likes of Google and Innocent will invariably remain relatively absent of controversy, the same cannot be said of organisations in other sectors – notably banking. Take Barclays as an example.
The scandal-hit mainstay of the British banking industry has had to work harder than most to enhance its appeal as an employer of choice. Committed to shaking off the shackles that threatened to close the door on its 300 year history, new Group Chief Executive Officer, Antony Jenkins set about transforming the bank’s profile when he assumed the reigns in 2012.
Through in-depth engagement surveys that are based on the organisation’s newly determined employer value proposition – ‘Opportunities on a different scale’ – Jenkins was effectively repositioning Barclay’s as the ‘Go to’ bank for both customers and employees.
Ultimately, your employer brand is intended to stir a reaction. That reaction could prompt candidates to apply to work for you over your competition – the extent to which they do this could effectively see them serve as a extension of your existing marketing efforts by recommending your products and services.
Their reaction could be increased retention rates which not only reduces staff turnover and the associated recruitment costs, but also improves staff motivation: a motivated workforce will buy into the organisation’s vision, share its values and help you to develop and turn great ideas into tangible benefits.
Your goal is to become the employer of choice, so you need to ensure your organisation effectively reflects the characteristics that your employees hold true. Focus on extolling the same values internally that your overall brand promises externally. A strong internal brand that is matched with individual rewards will translate into financial benefits for the business overall – one that is shared and driven by your employees themselves.