By Scott Hutchinson

The concept of “Employer Branding” is nothing new, it’s been around for many years. About twenty-five years ago a ground-breaking McKinsey report “the war for talent” identified five elements of a successful talent formula. One of these elements was something called an “EVP” or “Employee Value Proposition” which is a bit of a lengthy way of describing how you will add value to an individual’s life and experiences by coming to work for you.

So, an employer brand is the identity of a company as an employer – put very simply (very!) if you are known as a great employer, more people will come and work for you and you will enjoy increased financial performance. Or, as a farmer friend of mine once said “Happy cows make more milk”.

It’s not just the improved performance – According to LinkedIn, companies with a strong employer brand experience a “43% decrease in the cost per hire” and a “20% increase in the rate of hire”. LinkedIn also found that a bad reputation could cost a company with 1000 employees $7.6m in additional wages. I think this removes any doubt about the significance of a great employer brand.

In the old days, before social media, many organisations could “get away” with being a poor employer – nobody would really know the truth about a company until they actually started there. We are now in the era of social media where “bad news is twice around the world before good news has it’s boots on”.

Ask yourself. Can you ever imagine buying something on Amazon with a one-star review? What about a restaurant with a one-star peer review – would you eat there? Would you stay at a hotel that had a one-star rating on trip advisor? Of course you wouldn’t. Now the technology exists and the platform exists for employees to rate employers. Nobody is going to work for a company that has poor reviews.

So how do we go about building a strong employer brand?

  1. Authenticity: You have to be authentic. You cannot force or fake a strong employee brand – authenticity is the cornerstone. In addition, you need to treat it seriously and make positive employer branding a core goal of the business. You need to nurture your culture and create a great place for people to work – there are no shortcuts. Aligning your strategy around your company values is a great place to start.
  2. Involve everyone: Answer the question – “who is in charge of the employer brand”? The answer is, of course, “all of us”. It might be a long time since your leadership team had first hand experience of the competitive job market – they need educating on their important role in this process – everyone needs to be an ambassador for the employee brand. Marketing needs to help seamlessly connect the employer and corporate brand. If you are completely new to the concept you may wish to appoint someone (internally or externally) on a special project to drive transformational change.
  3. Establish Goals and Aim High: All goals are going to be different depending upon where you are on the journey but you do need to create metrics to measure the success of your branding process. Think about social media followers (“fans of the brand”), engagement, time to hire, number of CVs received and candidate satisfaction surveys. One very obvious metric will be your score on the employer review site “glassdoor”.
  4. Embrace the Socials: You need to utilise social media to promote your employer brand – not just the obvious sites such as Twitter, Linked In and Facebook but the ones where your target audience are. Millennials and Gen Z will soon be the biggest demographic in the workplace – they are on TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat – are you? Tell positive stories about your employees on social platforms – remember they want to hear directly from employees not corporate marketing.
  5. Treat candidates like customers: I’ve been saying this for twenty-five years but it still amazes me that the candidate experience is a terrible one for a lot of people. Think about the candidate journey and all of the points that you can improve that journey – remember that contacting someone to tell them there is no news is still positive communication and more than they get from most!

Employer Brand starts at the top of the organisation and needs to be embraced by everyone. We live in an era where many people have choices as to where they can work – if you want to attract the best then you better get your act together!