All Rise for the Employer Brand

Over the last few years, there’s been a notable rise in organisations seeking to define their employer brand. These days, an employer brand is as important as any ‘traditional’ business strategy. It defines who you are, acts as your point of differentiation in the recruitment market and helps to ensure that you are recruiting and retaining the right people. The business benefits of this are clear: significantly lowered recruitment costs (figures suggest that it costs around £24,000 per employee), a team of motivated and focused individuals with a shared purpose.

The reason for this rising trend, is in my view due to a number of factors including the move away from the concept of ‘job-for-life’, the integration of social media into our lives and a rise in the gig economy. The rise of Glassdoor is testament to this. Businesses are competing within a buoyant talent market and need to set themselves apart from anyone else if they are to continue to recruit and retain the best talent. I certainly don’t see this trend disappearing anytime soon. In fact, I think it will become standard practice and certainly the number and nature of conversations I have had recently with potential clients indicate this.

You don’t have to be a multinational to define your employer brand. It can apply to any business of any size which is looking to recruit, retain and grow. I know plenty of SME’s which have done a fantastic job of this (Propellernet, the digital SEO company based in Brighton being one of them) But what it must be is genuine. It must reflect what it’s really like to work there and should form the cornerstones of your organisation’s culture.

I love working on employer brand projects and I have had the pleasure on working on a few. If you’re thinking about developing your own employer brand, here are some tips you may want to consider:

  1. What’s the purpose: Give some serious consideration to what it is you want your employer brand to do for you. Is it to help attract talent out of a city to a more remote location, is it to help shape the culture of your start-up? Are you trying to recruit a specific skill-set? Or perhaps it’s to re-engage your workforce. Whatever it is, think about your business objectives and how it could help meet these.
  2. Do your research: If you’re the business owner or a senior leader, the chances are that you are going to have a very different view of the business compared to someone with no managerial responsibilities. Don’t sit in an office and try and construct your employer brand based on assumptions and a select few confidantes around you. Interrogate the data that’s available to you e.g. surveys, exit interviews, HR metrics. What is it telling you? Are there any common themes/ phrases/ views which crop up?
  3. Speak to people: Take the time to go out and speak to people in the business. Find out what it is that inspires and motivates them, what it is that they like or dislike about working where they do and what they would say to someone asking about a job within their team. You could even get a little creative and ask people to put together a hypothetical recruitment advert. You’ll be amazed how much you will learn and the insight you will gather.

Consider not only the points that they make but also the type of language people use, metaphors and examples they draw on. It might make sense to bring in external support to help you get the real truths you need. You should also look at speaking to your customers and suppliers – what do they say about you?

  1. Test your draft proposition before it goes live: when you’ve gathered all your insights, do test your draft proposition with a number of the team and respond to feedback. This can be a good way to secure their buy-in too.
  2. Do more than a flash-in-the-pan reveal:If you have spent a lot of time in getting this right. Don’t be guilty of simply writing it up into a handbook or spending loads of money on a flashy event. Of course, you can do both, but plan to make this sustainable and embedded across all aspects of business operations. This might sound easier than it is, but you’ll need to work together with colleagues across many functions e.g. HR, comms, finance and marketing if you have those teams – to make sure that it is integrated consistently.
  3. Keep it real….: An employer brand should not be what you want it to be, it should reflect what you are and what people can really expect when they join you.

Working on employer brand campaigns is one of my favourite types projects to deliver. They combine all the things that I like most about my job – data, people, creative plus much more.

If you would like any advice on how to start the process, please feel free to get in touch. I’d love to help.

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