What every manager must know about building a great employer brand

Employer branding as a recruitment tool has become too big to ignore. Once the preserve of big consulting firms and global brands, it is now mainstream enough to have a day of its own – 27 April 2017 is World Employer Branding Day.

Although HR departments and recruiters have been on board with the concept of employer branding for the past 10 years or so, senior leaders have been harder to convince. Now, new ways of measuring the impact of employer branding on the cost of hiring lets managers create a business case for employer branding that will convince even the most hardened CFO that creating a distinctive employer brand is a worthwhile investment.

What can mangers do today to build an appealing employer brand that will attract the best talent to their business?

1. Analyse where employer branding fits into your recruitment strategy (because its not the whole story). The best, authentic employer brands are built when HR, management, PR, marketing and employees work together to create a consistent message about what it is like to work for the organisation.

Make sure that candidates’ experience with your organisation is stellar. Is it easy to apply for a position? Are you communicating effectively with candidates during the process? When a candidate has a bad experience, they will not only not apply for other positions with you, they will also tell others.

2. Make sure your strategy is not exclusively employer-led. Employees are critical to developing brand image. What your employees communicate with people outside the organisation is far more important than the organisation’s own communications, research has shown. If employer branding is left to the marketing and PR functions only, it is not going to ring true.

Including the voice of your employees and communicating their experience is vital. Define why people work for your organisation: is it to advance their careers as quickly as possible? To learn and grow? To make a positive difference to the world? An employee referral program can be a valuable part of a company’s recruiting strategy and reinforces your brand.  Knowing what percentage of your employees would recommend you as a great place to work, and why, gives you a good indication of how your brand is perceived right now.

3. Amplify. Spread your message far and wide with content marketing and other forms of communication. You need to be where your prospective employees are, on social media, at trade fairs, community events, awards ceremonies and in the media. Tell the story of your company. What are you about? What do you stand for? Your vision and mission statements, your blog posts, intranet, public website and social media pages should all reflect the same values and story. This should be true both internally and externally, reinforcing why people want to stay with you as well as attracting them in the first place.

4. Be real. No organisation is perfect, and no workplace is ideal for everybody. As well as promoting the strengths of your organisation, share the realities. Prospective employees will be more trusting of your employer brand if you are realistic about the work environment. This can be done in a positive way, such as by emphasising that you value work-life balance even if you don’t pay the highest rates in your industry.

5. Measure. You will convince the bean counters that the strategy works if you have the numbers to back it up. Things to measure and track are number of applicants, cost per hire, quality of hires, retention rate and employee engagement score.

A strong employer brand enhances the organisation’s brand overall, as well as adding value by building a recruitment pipeline through having a sharp and defined brand message. A strong employer brand  makes recruiting high-quality candidates who will be a good fit with the organisation a reality for every organisation.