The concept of branding has been around for centuries, with the strategies used to differentiate and grow brands becoming increasingly sophisticated. Although corporate branding is widely understood and strategically important to most organisations today, employer brand often lags behind.
“As the needs and expectations of employees evolve, the challenge to find and keep exceptional people also intensifies,” says James Christian, Managing Partner for Gerard Daniels in London. “Developing a strong employer brand is an important strategy for retaining and appealing to top talent, for cutting down on hiring costs, and improving organisational performance.”
Here are four questions to ask if you want to grow your employer brand in 2023.
1. Why does your employer brand matter?
In recent years the workforce has changed immeasurably as flexible and remote working have been normalised, allowing employees to consider employment beyond their commute. People have also called for better work-life-balance and made increasingly values-driven employment decisions. These and other global employment trends have reshaped the workforce and elevated the significance of the employer brand.
“The more employment choices the employees have, the greater the recruitment challenge, which amplifies the need to find and keep people who are a good cultural fit for your organisation. Clients can also make values-driven decisions on who they choose to partner with,” says James. “Given the tight talent market, organisations without a strong employer brand will undoubtedly get left behind, because they won’t be able to attract the calibre of talent and customers that they need to grow and stay competitive.”
Harnessing the value of your people as brand advocates is another powerful factor for growing your employer brand. “Sending a message to the business community that your organisation is a great place to work can be performance enhancing, and a powerful factor in talent attraction,” says James.
2. Can all aspects of employer brand be controlled?
There will always be aspects of your employer brand that are beyond your control. What people say about their experiences working with or for your organisation, is a good example.
“While happy employees make great brand advocates, this dynamic goes both ways,” says James. “Disgruntled current and former employees, and even unsuccessful candidates, are just as likely to speak out against your organisation in ways that can damage your reputation, weaken your employer brand and make it more difficult to attract talent to your organisation.”
“Consistently investing in your people and building your employer brand can help to safeguard your reputation and build resilience against negative feedback in the market,” James continues. “When you have the right structure in place and can speak with authenticity about your culture and service offering, you have a better chance of attracting top talent. This in turn leads to a high-performing team and creates a brand that people are motivated to join to further their own careers”.
3. How strong is your employer brand?
Auditing is essential for understanding the health of your employer brand, and a range of formal and informal metrics can be used to help you achieve this.
“Regular performance and employee surveys can gauge employee satisfaction and flag any potential people or cultural issues, says James. “Interest in advertised roles, candidate quality, and metrics like offer acceptance rates; candidate net promoter scores; staff turnover; cost-per-hire and employee referrals, can also be used to measure the health of your employer brand.”
“Less formally, employer review websites like Glass Door can reveal any negative sentiment that exists, or where issues may have occurred. These forums are subjective and don’t always accurately reflect these situations, but monitoring these platforms can alert you to any issues that need to be addressed,” James continues, “In smaller organisations you can also generally feel how you are performing from a people perspective.”
For true brand assessment, a lot of honesty is needed – and sometimes, external assessment can be required to be sure an organisation is self-reflecting in the most effective way.
4. Can you improve your employer brand?
If your employer brand is in poor health or your reputation has taken a hit, with time and investment it can be improved. As a leader you have a significant role in building and restoring your employer brand, and there are some important questions that should be asked.
Is your employer brand authentic?
For your employer brand to be authentic, your organisational culture, values and employee value proposition must align with the genuine experience of your employees. “Today more than ever, people expect a realistic representation of the organisation that they work for, or that they are considering joining,” says James. “But your employer brand will lack authenticity if the experience of working for your organisation differs from your corporate messaging and the perception of your organisation in the market.”
Are your new hires a good fit?
Choosing the right people to join your organisation is critical to sustaining your employer brand. “Just because someone is the top in their field, doesn’t mean they are right for your organisation, so it’s important for your recruitment process to be equally focused on skills and experience, as achieving a good cultural fit. Involving people at different levels within your organisation to contribute to the interview process is also important for ensuring cultural alignment,” says James. “Equally, it is up to the leader to ensure a team is assembled thoughtfully, fit-for-purpose, and to create a culture of high-performance. Another way to ensure this is by involving people outside the direct management line to be involved in the recruitment process.”
Is your interview process two-way?
Despite the competitive market for top talent, many employers still overlook the fact that interviews are a screening process for potential employees, and opportunities for candidates to also screen your organisation. “New recruits are a significant asset, and the interview process must allow both parties to decide if it’s a good fit,” says James.
“A two-way interview process allows candidates to determine whether your reputation is consistent with the real employee experience, further validating the authenticity of your employer brand. To achieve this, always genuinely allow for questions from the candidates,” James continues. “As part of the interview process, it is also beneficial to assess candidates in a social setting that is more relaxed than a formal interview, allowing the hiring organisation to ensure cultural alignment and team fit.”
Do your employees have a voice?
To create positive employee experiences, people need to be heard, and feel safe and valued. This makes giving employees a voice an important part of building a strong employee brand. “Leaders must consider how people at all levels of the organisation can voice their concerns, share ideas and contribute to the strategy and performance of the organisation,” says James. “Encouraging and acting on employee feedback is critical to achieving this.”
Will your employer brand open doors and entice top talent to join and stay with your organisation? For advice and support developing your talent strategy and organisational culture, connect with James or reach out to your local Gerard Daniels team.