In September, we were the proud hosts of an event in London looking at how companies can develop an employer branding strategy that truly reflects their values. The meetup featured four highly respected experts: Dave Hazlehurst, director at Ph. Creative, Francesca Campalani, head of attraction & employer branding at Deloitte UK, Natalie Brock, head of talent acquisition & employer branding at Gympass, and Jenny Tillgren, employer branding strategist at Applied.
The night was full of insightful discussion – here are our top takeaways.
What is employer branding? And why does it matter?
Essentially, it’s how you reflect the personality of your business to employees in the experience you give to them. How do you make the people working for your company day in and day out feel? How do you come across to the people you want to hire? This matters. Joining a new company is no small decision – unlike consumer branding, where you might decide to buy a pair of shoes and pass them on a few months later if they’re uncomfortable. Signing up for a new 9 to 5 is a big investment for people.
How can you make yourself known even when you don’t have a strong brand?
Being an authentic employer and creating a strong learning culture will make a difference to your reputation as an employer. If you’re truly honest about what it’s like to work at your company (the good and the bad) and do all you can to help your people have successful careers, the word will spread.
What are the first steps in the employer branding strategy process?
It’s actually easier to create an employer brand from scratch, as opposed to from within a well-established company where you have change the status quo. The first step is to understand your culture. Watch what people do. How do they dress? How do they talk? What makes them tick? These are the human truths of your organisation. Listen to what people are talking about around you, and sit down with people and ask them what working at your company is really like.
A word of caution: your employer brand won’t work if it sounds like everyone else’s. Look for and share stories that bring out your company values. And do this with an eye on where you want your business to go, not just where it is now.
Once you know what makes your business unique, how do you communicate this internally?
Involve your employees throughout the entire process. Identify what people in the company think and compare this with what the leaderships thinks. Talk about things in a way that sounds human and real, not like corporate fluff. Remember that an employer branding strategy is effectively an internal marketing campaign that you can then use externally.
How do make sure and check that the brand remains relevant?
First of all, be data-obsessed and observe people informally. What people do is often more revealing than what they say. Secondly, give people a voice. For example, instead of just letting company leaders speak about diversity at your company, ask employees to tell their stories and give their perspective. Are the things you are hearing and seeing over a long period of time consistent with your employer brand?
Is employer branding costly?
The real question is can a company afford to not have an employer branding strategy? Candidates look at on average 14 sources before they apply for one job, and 70% spend two to six hours checking a company out. High turnover and missing out on talent will cost a company dearly. If you are spending money on tools or bringing in outside help with your strategy, make sure you follow through – and your investment in employer branding will pay off.
Recruitment is estimated to be a $400 billion industry, with employees today only staying 1-2 years at a company. If you want effectively convey your company’s appeal to prospective employees, invest time in an employer branding strategy that will attract the right candidates.