Thursday, 08 March 2018

According to the 2018 report by VMR Consultants, 75% of technology professionals are expecting to change employers in the next year. As Gosewisch stated, “Developers have more loyalty to their career and personal development than the company that employs them.”

Many developers want a job that feels worthwhile, while contributing to their own skills at every step along the way, and they will keep looking until they find it. The answer to attracting and retaining this demographic when the odds are stacked against you, it seems, may lie in employer branding.

Employer branding vs. employer brand

The concept of employer branding has been around since the 1990s in the B2B space, with 59% of organisations planning to invest more on employer brand in 2016 compared to 2015, according to LinkedIn’s report. At its most basic level, an employer brand is an organisation’s reputation as an employer – something that is distinct from their brand as a corporate entity.

However, employer brand – a stakeholder’s perception of an organisation as an employer – is not the same as employer branding. Employer branding is the strategy and tactics an organisation implements to influence external and internal perceptions.

 

employer branding

employer brand

company brand

The attempts you made to change perceptions

The effect of your actions in the minds of stakeholders

Defined and controlled internally

 

Unlike a company brand, which is controlled internally with names, symbols and design, an employer brand doesn’t strictly belong to the employer it is shaped and driven by its employees and stakeholders. That is why every employer has a ‘brand’: regardless of whether they have consciously developed it or not.

Despite a company brand’s capability to support internal recruitment, that alone is not always enough – employer brand as a stand-alone driver can have far more impact, as research by LinkedIn found:

A strong employer brand – as indicated by an individual having a positive impression of your company as a place to work – is twice as likely to be linked to job consideration as a strong company brand.

An organisation can define the perception they wish to communicate and, in doing so, influence the quality of candidates and quantity of applications it attracts.

Employer branding begins with the process of researching competitors and companies that you admire as employers, then by building an understanding of your target employee profile. Identify their needs, pain points and drivers. Next, align these with company values, culture and business needs. Questions often include, “what makes us unique? What can we offer? How can we improve the candidate experience? Does the experience of working here differ from the perceptions applicants have?” As your employees already have an existing perception of you as an employer, they can be particularly valuable at this stage – providing insights and feedback that can help in defining your employer branding strategy. We talk about this further in our recent eBook.

The final product, your Employer Value Proposition (EVP), is designed to define the business’ unique offer for employees that will make your company seem appealing to the desired demographic.

Get our FREE step-by-step guide to establishing your employer brand and why your employees will love you for it >>

Employer branding strategy requires communication

Defining an EVP is just a starting point. To translate and embed this as part of the employer brand, it must be effectively communicated and have the ability to evolve constantly.

In a technology-driven age where information is a few clicks or taps away and reviews are widely accessible, candidates are able to scrutinise potential employers in all areas of the recruitment process and company culture; from values and evidence of corporate social responsibility, through to interviewing and hiring practices via platforms such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn.

According to Label Insight, in the same way that consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that is fully committed to transparency, 80% of jobseekers will research an employer before deciding to apply; if there isn’t enough information to persuade them, they will simply pass on the opportunity.

The resulting perceptions can make or break an employer in terms of its ability to attract and retain top talent. Therefore, employer branding has been raised on the management agenda in recent years and become a part of long-term strategy. However, investment into employer branding and embedding that into the digital ecosystem continues to lag.

The role of social media, mobile apps or responsive sites, and personalisation of messaging are all increasing in consumer branding and marketing. Of those types of campaigns, there are a few key themes amongst the successful ones:

  1. They utilise a multitude of channels to engage their target audience: from videos on YouTube, Instagram stories and great content on purpose-built careers sites, through to employee reviews and testimonials on third-party websites.

  2. They draw on employees as brand ambassadors, showcasing ‘on the ground’ experiences through case studies, videos and testimonials.

  3. They connect directly to the pain points, wants, attitudes and concerns of the target demographic, answering questions and providing solutions.

  4. They are employee centric; following a trend towards consumer-centric marketing, these brands include a notable focus on the employee’s training, development and career, as opposed to focusing on the business and its success.

  5. They go beyond the job description, including insights into social events and culture, CSR, values and areas where they can offer work-life balance, flexibility or investment into employee development outside their core.

The following organisations have zoned in on the above strategies to ensure they attract and retain leading talent.

PwC: Addressing ‘wants’ using first-hand testimonials and brand ambassadors

As a global brand, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has the resources and financial investment to become an employer of choice. However, investment is secondary when it comes to PwC because it is their approach that has put them on top. The careers page of the professional services giant is innovative with a comprehensive approach, building a completely transparent overview of the Employer Value Proposition.

Research has stated Millennials rank training and development over financial remuneration as a benefit in the workplace. As a result, PwC placed that at the heart of their employer ethos, defined on their careers website as follows:

PwC employer branding website

Their employee-centric approach connects with the desire of many applicants to shape their own future; empowering individuals by providing them with purpose and development.

Capitalising on the trend of listening to reviews and word-of-mouth as a trusted source, every stage of the employer branding process is underpinned by employee reviews, case studies or videos. The ‘Alumni’ section explores the journeys of previous employees and how PwC helped them to grow and develop professionally – showing the potential career paths of prospective employees.

PwC employer branding website example 1

Pages on corporate responsibility and culture explore life working for the organisation, presenting values that perspective employees can measure themselves against. In doing so, PwC not only communicates its employer brand, but ensures it attracts talent in line with the company’s vision. As a result, they reduce employee turnover due to a lack of integration into the culture.

E.on: understanding candidate concerns and values

As an energy supplier, being shortlisted twice at the Employer Brand Management Awards may seem controversial amongst today’s CSR-conscious workforce. However, their recognition and understanding of the stigma around the industry, and their approach to overcoming that, is exactly what makes their brand stand out.

With the help of brand consultants Blackbridge, E.on was able to produce and on-campus campaign to attract graduate talent in 2014 in which they aimed to change perceptions and prejudices. They positioned themselves as playing a key role in the solution to growing concerns over energy use and global warming.

 The “If not you, then who?” campaign presented two scenarios; one in which global warming went uncontrolled which would result in civil unrest and climate change issues; the other, an alternative where energy saving initiatives resulted in a better climate. There was a clear message of corporate responsibility to address issues of global importance.

The campaign proved valuable as applications increased by 25% YoY for E.on. By taking time to understand underlying concerns and conceptions of the target audience, E.on was able to address these concerns and communicate how they attempt to resolve these.

Eon employer branding

Is your start-up struggling to hire the desired talent? Download our free eBook and help to attract better candidates and lower employee turnover >>

Qualcomm: Focusing on “You”

As a telecommunications equipment company, Qualcomm’s industry doesn’t immediately exude feelings of excitement for would-be employees. However, having stood in Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For line up in recent years, there’s more to this organisation than you may think.

Upon visiting their careers site, you will immediately notice considerable investment and an aesthetically pleasing approach with clean-cut, interactive and engaging design. However, the key stand-out approach to Qualcomm’s employer brand strategy is the consumer focus- in this case, it is the employees.

Qualcomm internal branding

Directly using “you” and “your” addresses the target audience, hinting at the thorough consideration given to well-being, work-life balance and the wants/needs of employees. Qualcomm goes above and beyond in its attempt to become a facilitator of a complete lifestyle; matching a concept Gallup recently spoke about:

A job is no longer just a job – it’s their life as well

What’s more, the Qualcomm Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is clearly and comprehensively defined, utilising its ‘Qualcomm Total Rewards’ micro site. Broken into the sections ‘Health’, ‘Wealth’, ‘Living’ and ‘Achieving’, the site offers a holistic approach to answering the wants, pains and needs of employees when it comes to purpose, development and wellbeing.

Qualcomm employer branding example website

Deloitte, Salesforce & Adobe: Use of social media

Using social media in employer brand strategy is no longer a unique concept. However, there are a few notable examples of organisations that have capitalised on this channel and placed themselves in a unique position; for that reason, we have placed a few names into this particular category.

Deloitte’s @LifeatDeloitte campaign is a prime example of the impact social media can have in communicating an employee’s real-life experiences. The professional services company set up a dedicated Twitter account to establish a distinct brand as an employer, separate from the corporate image that the organisation has created. This branding is carried through to the Life at Deloitte careers site, which is separate from its corporate site.

Different employees have access to the account, giving it a personable, friendly and multi-personality approach. The feed is a combination of updates, events, roles, retweets, polls and content being promoted – making for a continuously engaging Twitter feed for both existing and prospective candidates.

Adobe’s #AdobeLife hashtag takes the concept one step further by turning their employees into brand advocates, who can tweet from independent accounts and provide more brand authenticity. The following tweets speak for that:

Life At Adobe employer branding on social media

The hashtag has a vast number of uses; employees tweeted with indications of investment in training and development, recognition for loyalty or success, as well as evidence of their strong and integrated culture.

LifeAtAdobe employer branding campaign

Salesforce, the cloud computing company, currently ranks 23rd on Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. As part of their employer branding campaign, they took to Instagram and Snapchat- two platforms with strong presence amongst millennials and Gen Y. Unlike Deloitte’s separate employer brand, Salesforce kept close to their commercial branding. Originally, they utilised the hashtag #dreamjob, showcasing the 360-degree experience of life as a Salesforce employee – including office views, events, charity initiatives, its culture and values.

Salesforce employer branding example

salesforce employer branding example

Why invest in employer branding?

There is extensive research by the likes of Gallup, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and many more highlighting why employer branding is a worthwhile investment. The key returns for organisations opting to invest in the initiative are:

  • Attraction of more talent: according to Glassdoor, organisations that are prioritising employer brand are 250% more likely to rate their overall talent acquisition efforts as highly effective.
  • Attract better quality candidates: as found in the 2014 report by CEB, employers that invested in employer branding reported a 45% increase in the quality of candidates applying for roles
  • Higher levels of employee engagement: those who invest in the initiative are 130% more likely to see increases in employee engagement
  • 67% of job seekers said they would accept a lower salary if the company had exceptionally positive reviews online (Careerbuilder)
  • Lower cost per hire: there has been a 43% decrease in cost per hire amongst employers after investing into employer branding
  • Strong employer branding encourages employee retention: new hires are 40% less likely to leave in the first 6 months

Only 41% of employees stated that they know what their company stands for; therefore, it is clear the communication of employer brand requires an equal split in attention internally and externally. Deploy and use an intranet as a communication platform with the intention of defining values and obtaining employee feedback. It can also be using to establish the Employee Value Proposition with information regarding benefits, events and initiatives – this can prove valuable when striving to build brand ambassadors within the existing staff.

The value of employer branding: not just for employees

Employer branding has been traditionally positioned and valued for supporting the attraction and retention of employees. However, potential applicants are now paying attention to an organisation’s treatment of its stakeholders. Yes, that even includes your suppliers and distributors. All of this helps in presenting an employer from a socially responsible and ethical standing.

For this reason, employer branding is increasingly chipping away at the importance of traditional factors such as salary, holiday allowance and working hours. The brand’s key USPs can add to the total value proposition for consumers, helping an employer to stand out amongst the masses. Those holding a bad reputation or have been subject to multiple scandals recently will automatically be shunned by would-be applicants. This can be anything regarding working conditions, ill-treatment, unfair dismissal, inequality and more – all having impact on the company’s bottom line.

For these reasons, HR is not the only department responsible for employer branding in a drive to attract talent. It should be recognised by all employees as a business-wide strategy to supporting long-term growth, improving employee retention and building upon the company’s corporate brand. Ultimately, employer branding can offer tremendous returns for employers who choose to invest.

Download: Attracting and retaining technology talent with employer branding

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