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With an insanely tight talent market and companies aggressively competing for the best workers, it’s essential that your employer brand is working as hard as possible at attracting and keeping the best employees. Often the marketing department makes great strides in advancing the company and product brands among customers. But without the same resources, HR representatives are playing catch-up on how they brand employment at the company.
If you have high-growth hiring plans, it’s time to revisit and, if needed, reengineer your employer brand for success.
Your employer brand is the promise you make to current employees and future recruits as to what you (the company) will deliver in a working partnership. It should be a magnet for talent, plus engage and motivate employees.
A good employer brand:
• Serves as a primary motivator to be an employer of choice beyond salary.
• Connects the dots between the customer brand promise and how employees are recruited, hired, trained and incentivized, as well as how they behave and perform — all to support your purpose and mission.
• Provides a go-to-market talent strategy with a unique market positioning that provides a competitive advantage to attract and retain employees with the characteristics needed to achieve your business vision.
• Includes a creative umbrella for all external recruiting and internal HR/culture activities.
Examples of inspiring and engaging articulations of employer brands are Microsoft (“Be the one who empowers millions”) and Southwest Airlines (“Welcome onboard the flight of your life”).
Competitive Job Markets Demand Strong Employer Brands
There’s plenty of proof that a strong employer brand will benefit your business. Research has found that a well-executed employer value proposition can:
• Improve the commitment of hires by nearly 20%.
• Reduce new-hire compensation premiums by up to 50%.
• Increase the likelihood of employees acting as advocates by up to nearly 50%.
And according to a 2017 Deloitte human capital report, nearly 80% of executives rated the employee experience as important or very important. But regretfully, only 22% believe their company is excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.
A good employer brand works to support the organization externally and internally. To start, it should appeal to candidates in three ways:
• Awareness: A differentiated positioning that can fuel the creativity of your recruitment campaigns.
• Attraction: Job postings and career pages, career opportunity messaging.
• Recruitment: Benefit programs, job offers and the onboarding process.
Then, once the candidates are a part of your team, the employer brand should enable HR in these ways:
• Retention: Competency model, employee development programs, performance management process linked to financial goals, career path discussions.
• Commitment: Engaging company culture, training, compensation/benefits, rewards and recognition programs.
• Advocacy: Eagerly expressing support for the company in social media, professional networks and best workplace surveys.
The Starting Point
Every company has an employer brand, be it carefully designed or organic. Whether your current employer brand is strong or weak, this is the time to ensure that it is:
• Simple yet compelling.
• Based in reality but inspirational.
• Ownable and differentiating.
Key to updating your employer brand is learning three ownable, differentiating attributes of employment with the company that you can confidently promote to existing employees and prospects. Conduct leadership interviews, employee focus groups and anonymous employee surveys to narrow that list to three truths. Dive deep into each attribute to articulate how and why it is unique to your company, the reason it was established, how it is structured, how leaders play their roles and its culture.
Turn The Creatives Loose
The best employer brands, like familiar consumer brands, are presented in emotionally engaging language and visuals. This is marketing work, not HR or internal communications. Let the creatives do their best work by presenting inspiring language that lifts you up and doesn’t drown you in facts. Test final concepts with HR representatives, longtime respected employees and new hires. Then go to leadership with built-in employee support for a final decision.
Build Your Toolkit
Final deliverables of your reengineering should include:
• A manifesto and employer brand statement.
• A message book of recruitment language, job descriptions, website copy, HR talking points.
• Employee stories.
• A visual illustration of the employer brand with diagrams and icons.
• Presentations for internal sell-in.
• A video introducing employment in a compelling and controlled way.
• A rollout plan and timeline.
Start At The Top
Before launching your new employer brand, conduct training with your leadership to ensure they can articulate the brand and handle questions around it. Most importantly, address individual plans on how they’ll live the brand in their actions and words.
Bring It To Life
Identify creative ways that you can live out your employer brand every day in the employee experience, such as:
• New cultural rituals.
• On-brand behaviors that should be encouraged.
• Environmental reminders in the workplace.
While you’re at it, identify off-brand behaviors and language that need to be retired, and make that cleanup a part of your rollout plan.
Realize This Is Change
Nobody likes change, but it has become constant in corporate environments today. Engage change management professionals to conduct stakeholder assessments, map out the current to future state changes needed internally, and provide the disciplined execution to engage and train all employees.
The world is full of doubters, and you’ll certainly have some employees who question if you can live up to the new employer brand. Be prepared to address these challenges with thoughtful answers to questions, aligned support of workplace influencers and new evidence of how you are living up to that higher bar you’ve set. Acknowledge that it requires hard work, and invite their input in what else can be done to prove it out.
Current employees are your greatest contributor to hiring and retaining top talent. Enable them to convey your brand in an authentic and exciting way.