How to identify and refine your employer brand to engage talent

How to identify and refine your employer brand to engage talent

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Over the years I’ve spent in employer branding, I’ve seen a steady increase in interest in the concept. Many businesses, however, still believe that employer branding remains the domain of big corporations and flashy tech companies, and that they don’t have the resources needed to run their own employer branding campaign.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Employer branding doesn’t have to be excessively complex. Above all, employer branding is about creating a unique and memorable experience for talent – one that embodies your values and modus operandi as an employer.

Starting from scratch versus scaling your employer brand

Employer branding (EB) requires connecting with candidates on an emotional level in order to communicate what you stand for. Done right, employer branding enables you to define and shape perceptions of your company.

When starting an employer branding strategy from scratch, like with many other projects, the idea is to start out small. Define the approach, deliverables, impact, and results. Managing expectations from the get-go as to what EB can and cannot achieve, then mapping goals to timeframes and interdependencies, will provide a solid EB base to scale later.

When your company has an employer brand already in place, the first step is recognising at what stage of maturity your EB is at, then creating a roadmap that evaluates all touchpoints in the employee life-cycle: before they join, while they’re at the company and after they leave.

Regardless of what stage you are at with your employer brand, the following considerations are key:

Clearly aligning your employer brand with broader company goals

Given that employer branding enables an organisation to meet its HR goals in terms of attraction, engagement and retention, an employer branding strategy should align with the company’s HR/talent strategy. Ultimately, this is defined by the overarching company strategy and goals.

As such, developing an employer brand should always include leadership, so that this overarching vision and aspiration is clearly captured. This allows an employer branding strategy to help close the gaps between the aspirations of leaders and the authentic experiences, culture, beliefs and values of employees.

Collaborating across the aisle

Employer branding strategy lives and dies on constantly evolving stakeholder engagement. When defining and identifying your employer brand, there are several key groups to consider:

  1. Marketing/Brand/Comms (The Godfather): The employee value proposition (EVP) must first and foremost be aligned with the company value proposition (CVP) in a one brand stand. You need to get in line!
  2. Recruitment/Talent Acquisition (Partners in Crime): To a large extent, this team tells you where to aim and shoot i.e. which talent segments to target.
  3. HR (Gatekeepers): They ‘own’ the business and give you access to all areas.
  4. Legal/Risk & Compliance (Judge, Jury and Executioner): Everything will be nought if you don't win this group over, as they hold all the cards regarding what you can and can't do.

Balancing the requirements of these key groups is a major consideration when developing an employer branding strategy.

Considering broader contexts

Employer branding must be considered in the greater context of company goals and industry movement. I’ve found that regardless of what stage of EB strategy development a company is, better decisions can be made when grounded in the following questions:

  1. What factors may impact the current state of an organisation in the short-medium-long term?
  2. What problems do you want EB to solve?
  3. Who will act as the leadership sponsor?

Answer these questions and develop milestones on a 1-2-3 year basis. It helps to have a long-term goal and understand that changing market conditions play a critical role in shaping an employer brand, so staying flexible in your approach is critical.

Tracking success

It goes without saying that measuring the success of your employer branding efforts is key to refining and improving your strategy.

From an internal perspective, employee engagement surveys or pulse surveys are a great indication of success. Bottom-line P&L analyses can also provide insight into whether your employer branding and recruitment approach has helped to deliver forecasted growth/profit.

Above all, employer branding shouldn’t be seen as a campaign that can be rolled out overnight – it takes time and dedication. But it’s worth it: employer branding remains one of the most effective responses to age-old recruitment challenges.

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