Competition for talent is fierce.
Acquiring top talent and retaining key employees in a labor market with a 3.6% unemployment rate (the lowest rate since 1969, according to the White House) is compelling businesses to rethink their talent recruiting and employee retention strategies.
To deal with this intense competition for talent, a rapidly increasing number of organizations have turned to investing more heavily in internal marketing strategies, including an increased focus on improving employer branding.
Employer branding, according to LinkedIn’s Sarah Lybrand, is “a second brand related to its primary brand about how you’re viewed as an employer. This is your employer brand, and it lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your former, current, and future employees. In today’s increasingly competitive job market, a positive employer brand is critical ... You need talented, leadership-bound workers … and the best way to find them is to cast the impression that your company is a great place to work … the culture of an organization and the treatment of its employees can greatly impact the impression you’re trying to make on potential candidates.”
Companies that were ahead of the employer branding curve, and have already invested in building strong workplace identities and cultures, have a distinct advantage in the current talent marketplace. Companies that have floated into the 3.6% unemployment labor market without an intentional, thoughtful employee retention strategy and talent attraction plan are struggling to compete.
There is a reason successful companies are investing more in internal marketing strategies like employer branding. It works to attract and keep talent, plain and simple.
- When making a decision on where to apply for a job, 84% of job seekers say the reputation of a company as an employer is important (Talent Now)
- 80% of talent acquisition managers believe that employer branding has a significant impact on the ability to hire great talent (LinkedIn)
- 92% of people would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation (CR Magazine)
- In a survey of 2,000 employees, almost half (43%) said they’re looking for a new job, and corporate culture was the main reason (Hays)
Engaged Talent is More Productive and Loyal
The talent you need and the talent you have value clarity, authenticity and investment in their professional development and personal happiness. An effective, consistently executed employer branding strategy delivers on two essential talent competition fronts: It projects, in a true way, the culture, values and opportunities for growth to talent in the marketplace; and it delivers on these promises internally, meaning your team experiences an authentic employer brand that increases engagement, satisfaction levels and loyalty to your company.
There are many parallels between talent acquisition and employee retention with lead conversion and customer retention. To be effective, both require attention, investment and alignment between external and internal marketing and branding efforts. Engaged talent, like leads and customers that perceive your brand as authentic and genuinely helpful, will stay with you and produce.
Embracing internal marketing and employer branding can literally transform productivity and the customer experience in one fell swoop, as the quality of your internal culture directly impacts your company’s ability to deliver outstanding customer experiences.
How to Develop a Strong Employer Brand that Attracts and Retains Top Talent
Conceptually, a strong employer brand is quite simple. If you create the perception in the market that your company is a great place to work, you’ll attract more top talent. And if you back that up with a great interview process, strong onboarding, an outstanding workplace culture and ample professional development and recognition opportunities, your talent will stay and recruit new talent as a natural part of their job.
Easier said than done. Concept, easy. Execution, not so much.
Here are five tips to developing a strong employer brand that can be deployed effectively to attract and retain top industry talent while improving your customer experience.
Know Thyself. It’s impossible to build an employer brand if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for. In order to project an attractive brand to potential hires and deliver on this brand to existing team members, those tasked with defining your employer brand have to do the legwork to pull this identity together.
Throwing an employer branding campaign together that’s not rooted in real, authentic and verifiable values is a recipe for disaster: The talent you’re recruiting will quickly see the brand as inauthentic and move on to other opportunities; existing talent will get insulted and fed up, and leave.
So, the first order of business is to create an employer brand task force that will lead the effort. This group should be comprised of various functional leaders and survey all levels of the organization to gather input about workplace culture, perceived values, engagement levels and overall satisfaction. This survey data should be collected across various inflection points on a consistent basis, including regular online surveys, onboarding surveys and exit interviews.
This data, once aggregated, needs to be compared and contrasted with leadership’s perception of the employer brand, employee perceptions and the job marketplace’s views. Points of alignment and areas of dischord will emerge. Your task force then needs to utilize this data to formulate a new employer brand that will attract and retain talent better than the old version.
A comprehensive audit of your employer brand is required so that your task force team gets a lay of the land before blindly leaping into action.
Develop an Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
The employer brand audit should provide a road map that leads to the creation of a clear, authentic and real Employee Value Proposition or EVP. An EVP is similar to a mission statement in that it should capture the essence of your employer brand’s culture and values. A strong EVP will articulate to job seekers what they will get from your company in exchange for joining your company; it will also define what an existing employee should experience when they walk in the door each and every day.
An EVP is not only based on 401K and medical benefits, although they play an important role in the overall employer brand value. The EVP should clearly define the workplace culture, company values and opportunities for career development, advancement and leadership.
In all cases, the EVP must align with the overall employer brand, which, in turn, has to be connected to the brand projected outward to consumers and customers. Any breakdown along the way in alignment or delivery on the promises made to your team or target market will hurt your company.
In short, your EVP distills the essence of your employer brand so that job seekers and existing talent know what to expect when choosing to work for your organization or stay there long-term.
Reimagine Recruiting and Employee Retention
Talent acquisition and retention is undergoing a paradigm shift due to the most competitive talent market in decades. There’s plenty of opportunity and not enough talent to go around.
To win the talent war, companies must adopt a new mindset that is focused on marketing and promotion. Posting jobs on Indeed and waiting for the right resumes to roll in won’t work in this talent environment. Human Resources or those tasked with recruiting need to adopt an aggressive marketing and promotion mentality both externally and internally. Once the employer brand and EVP are established, HR needs to become its own marketing and promotional engine that gets the word out about why your company is a great place to work.
Celebrating employee achievements, gathering testimonials from your team, showcasing company culture and getting out and celebrating your EVP at networking events are all part of the effort to recruit new talent and keep the talent you’ve already invested in.
Create Consistent Internal Branding Campaigns
An employer brand is a living thing that needs to be nurtured in order to stay healthy and thrive. The workplace culture that you worked hard to embed will fall apart unless it is actively reinforced by internal marketing and branding campaigns.
The people holding the purse strings might think that this is a waste of money. Why spend budget dollars marketing to the people that are already part of the company? How will that improve revenue and the bottom line?
The answer: A strong employer brand and workplace culture, or lack thereof, has a direct impact (positive or negative) on your company’s ability to hire talent, keep talent and deliver a great customer experience. A lack of new talent leads to stagnant performance and production and a lack of new ideas, and the loss of existing talent does the same. These two deficiencies caused by poor employer branding and a weak culture lead to bad customer experiences that damage your reputation, increase customer attrition and reduce lead conversion rates.
Everything is connected. To keep your employer brand strong, invest in internal marketing campaigns that use a variety of content types like posters, events, blogs, intranet portals and employee programming that celebrate the culture, team members’ successes and why your company is a great place to work.
Total Buy-in and Full Integration into the Business
Strong employer branding, more effective hiring and improved talent retention all start at the top. We’ve all heard of trickle-down economics; in this case it’s trickle-down employee branding.
From the founder and CEO to the executive team and senior managers, employer brand and EVP buy-in is critical. Any broken link in the chain can have devastating effects on hiring and talent retention, which will subsequently impact your company’s ability to render an outstanding customer experience to the market.
What’s more, employer branding must be fully integrated into every aspect of the business. Some would argue that employer branding and external branding are not separate entities at all but rather are part of a single, holistic approach. Regardless, total buy-in is critical to authenticity, the linchpin of any brand.
To attract the best talent, retain your existing staff and deliver consistently outstanding customer experiences, use the tips detailed above to develop an authentic employer brand that will positively impact every aspect of your organization and the way your customers experience your brand.