As recruitment grows increasingly competitive, companies with a strong employer brand are likely to come out on top.
Having candidates who want to work for your business, rather than simply choosing you because you offer the best salary within commuting distance of their house, can have a real impact on the quality of candidate you hire and, in turn, business performance.
So how can your business build its employer brand to attract the best candidates possible?
First, let’s start with the basics.
What Is Employer Brand?
The term “brand” has its origins in the brands used by cattle ranchers to identify their livestock, but as the term became more common within the business world, the meaning shifted somewhat.
David Ogilvy, the so-called Father of Advertising, described a brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”
When it comes to employer brand, the CIPD defines it as “a set of attributes and qualities, often intangible, that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture.”
In short, employer brand is the perception potential, and existing, employees have of a company based on the interactions they’ve had with, and the feelings they’ve felt towards, that company.
Why Is Employer Brand Important?
Despite the intangibility of employer branding, having a clear strategy can have a real impact on a businesses metrics by helping your business stand out from the competition in a number of areas; including recruitment, investment, customer acquisition and sales.
Being a candidate’s preferred employer increases the likelihood of your business being able to hire and retain a team of highly skilled workers ahead of the competition, increasing the effectiveness of your workforce and business.
This improvement in the culture and performance of your employees could ultimately have an impact on your customer acquisition and sales, further increasing the strength of your business and employer brand.
How Do You Build An Employer Brand?
Building an employer brand isn’t something that can be done overnight, and if you’re serious about making lasting changes it’s going to take consistent effort. While the strategy is relatively straightforward, it does require investment and, often, counterintuitive decisions to be made.
There are 4 basic steps every business needs to take in order to develop and grow its employer brand:
1. Define Your Mission Or Vision
The first step is to identify your companies mission, in order to communicate to employees where the business is heading, what it aims to achieve, and how it sets out to achieve it.
All of your existing employees should be working to support the business’s mission, and it should become the guide for all decisions made within your company.
When you’re bringing in new employees, having one over-arching target to work towards allows candidates to quickly decide whether or not they want to be a part of that journey.
2. Understand How Your Brand Is Perceived
To understand how to reach your newly-defined objectives, your business needs to get an idea of where it currently is, and how it’s currently perceived.
Surveying current employees to find out what they think of the business, its strategy, and how they perceive their role will help to paint a clear picture of your current standing.
Asking customers or clients can also identify ways you may not be communicating your objectives clearly, and help to establish ways you can address these issues when pivoting to a new strategy.
3. Build A Cohesive Culture
As the company’s new vision becomes the focus, it’s important to develop a culture that supports the objectives needed to realise that vision.
Define the types of people that you want to hire based on the culture you want to build, and begin to change your benefits packages and policies to attract those people to your company.
This could mean a shift in the way your recruitment process works, hiring for culture fit first and skills second, but it’s worth remembering that skills can be taught whereas personality and attitude can’t.
4. Improve Your Candidate Experience
Candidate experience is a huge factor for potential employees when it comes to building a strong employer brand.
If a process is too complicated then candidates will give up on their application and move onto another company.
There are several ways you can improve your candidate experience, but one quick method is to think of your application process as an online shopping experience.
If you’re trying to buy something online and the page takes too long to load, or it asks you for pages and pages of information, you’re likely to give up and abandon your cart.
Amazon, probably the most successful online retailer in the world, has done everything it can to minimise friction during the purchasing process - even offering one-click purchasing to make the entire process as simple as possible.
This same approach should be applied to your application process - make the process of applying simple, and more people will be encouraged to complete their application.
How Do You Measure Employer Branding?
So you’ve changed your whole recruitment process and made a big effort in building your employer brand, but how do you know if it’s working?
Establishing a set of KPIs that you can measure the results against, that fit in with your newly defined objectives, will allow you to track how your employer brand is performing over time.
For instance, did the number of applicants for your roles increase? Or did you get the same number of applicants, but of a higher quality?
Was there more engagement on your online channels? Did you have more career site visitors? Was there an increase in the offer acceptance rate?
All of these factors can point to an improvement in the strength of your employer brand, but it’s important to focus on those that are most important to your business.
Improving your employer brand is not something that can be achieved overnight - nor is it something that can be done once and then forgotten about. It’s an ongoing process that needs constant reflection and changes to make sure it’s delivering results for your business’s recruitment efforts.
As the company grows, and recruitment continues to get more competitive, investing in employer brand will be crucial for businesses who want to stay ahead of the competition.
Are you going to get left behind?