How to Build a Strong Employer Brand
Meet any HR professional; ask them about the top 5 tasks for this month, hiring will be among the top 3. Several companies today are finding it difficult to find the right employees to fit their organisation’s culture… There is a variety of recruitment options available online and offline, but the right candidates are still elusive. For some companies hiring seems like a perennial process. Some of them have weekly terminations and weekly new joinees. Spending so much time and effort on managing the employee churn is a criminal waste of time.
In recent times, due to limited availability of good talent, attracting the right talent has become a priority for HR leaders. This has made organisations to start caring about building a strong employer brand as an alternative and effective way to bridge the gap.
What is an ‘Employer Brand’?
Ever sat through an interview where you were asked by the candidate, “why should I join your company?”. Maybe this sounds odd or seems unrealistic because we are used to asking the exact opposite question – “why should I consider you for this position?”. Yes, the recruitment manager of a company where everyone aspires to work can still pose this question. But for every other company, believe me, this question is now considered old school; especially if you are interviewing a high-potential, high-performing, confident candidate. And for a minute just think about, what are you likely to answer if you did have to respond to this question?
Employer brand is a set of tangible qualities that a company possesses as an employer. It is these qualities which become the identity of the company among all those who work or intend to work in the company. Simply put, your employer brand encourages new employees to join you, remain with you and recommend you to potential future employees.
Why is it so important?
If your employer brand has a positive avatar, you will be a popular brand among your potential employees across the hierarchy. If you have a negative avatar or no avatar at all, you will find it very hard to attract and retain good talent in your company.
Building a strong employer brand is critical because it helps you save on two of the time consuming and costly aspects of your human resource management – recruitment and retention.
Let me also clarify here, you need not be a 1000 employee company or highly profitable company to have a positive employer brand. Even a small company, with just 5 employees can strive to build a strong employer brand. So remember it’s not the most successful company, but the most ‘preferred company to work with’ that has got their employer brand right.
What does it take to develop a strong ‘Employer Brand’?
Let’s do a quick comparison here – just the way a ‘consumer brand’ (a product) develops a strong brand positioning statement to capture the mindshare of their potential customers; organisations that want to build a strong ‘employer brand’ must develop a strong employee value proposition (EVP) to capture the mindshare of their potential employees.
A good brand positioning statement helps the consumer differentiate between two similar products. For example: A consumer may have a choice of toothpaste A – which promises shiny teeth and toothpaste B – which promises fresh breath; while both help strengthen the teeth. Depending on the current need (shiny teeth VS fresh breath), the consumer will choose one of the two toothpastes; or for that matter, one out of the many toothpaste brands.
Similarly, a unique employee value proposition (EVP) allows potential employees to decide which company will they best fit in, which culture will they thrive in and where will they be able to contribute to their best abilities for a long duration. To build a strong employer brand, HR should focus on establishing a strong employee value proposition (EVP).
Let’s look at some examples – Google has an EVP for their employee that says “Do cool things that matter”. Being the leading and most preferred search engine in the world, Google’s EVP plays perfectly on this brand positioning by encouraging employees who wish to make an impact. A person who likes consistency, is process driven, not creatively inclined will not choose Google or feel it to be way out of their league. On the contrary, a person who is motivated by innovation, has a creative flair, is tech savvy, enjoys detail oriented work will aspire to work with Google.
Similarly, Nike has an EVP that tells the potential candidates exactly what the company does in a brief. Their EVP is “We lead. We invent. We deliver. We use the power of sport to move the world.” The EVP at Yellow Spark is “We provide meaningful practical solutions to your people challenges”. This helps us in a big way to attract and engage with likeminded talent as employees, partners, and collaborators.
However, a nice EVP on paper does not make the cut. It needs to be supported with tangible benefits that the employees experience in return for their service to the organisation. So as far as I’m concerned, the rule of the thumb for building a strong employer brand is the intent to do what it takes to provide a good work environment to all your employees.
Here are 5 critical questions to answer about your company that will help you build a strong employer brand.
1. What does the current brand say to the prospective employees?
Developing a great plan always begins with the analysis of the current one first. You need to first analyse and review your present communication and EVP that is out. Check for how much is it in line with your company vision and brand positioning? Does it communicate the entire message you wish the potential employees to know or does it need revisiting and refining?
2. What type of candidates does your current image attract?
Once you identify the current EVP, the next step is to assess the results you get out of it. The main purpose of an EVP is to attract the right talent who are equally passionate and convinced of your company’s goals as you. If you feel that the people you get end up being rejected in the interview or the attrition rate after hiring is high, probably the candidates aren’t being attracted to the right thing.
3. What type of candidates would you otherwise target to have onboard?
To attract better talent, you need to define what are the things you look for in the candidates yourself? This is possible by collaborating with various teams, understanding their needs about the kind of people they are looking for and then narrowing your search to target just the one that suits your needs. Just like a customer persona, once you have your ideal candidate/employee persona, targeting and hiring them becomes much easier.
4. What attracts and motivates such candidates to join or stay in your organisation?
Having a focussed campaign towards hiring the right talent includes knowing what appeals and motivates them to a large extent. With a large majority of people needing jobs, not everyone would want it for the same reason. Some might want it for the money, while others are more interested in the experience while yet others are attracted towards your employer brand and how it enhances their career. Understanding the motivation of these candidates is the key to having a strong employer brand..
5. How can the HR team create an encouraging and sustainable environment to cater to these motivations?
Based on the responses to the above set of questions, HR can formulates an EVP for your organisation. This not just becomes an ad for grabbing candidates’ attention but also a summary of the work environment once they join. HR is thus responsible for ensuring that the employees see the same work culture that they were told while they walked in for an interview. HR also looks into any problems or crisis that employees face during their time with you so that they could solve it on priority and thus reduce attrition to a significant extent.
The Human Resource department is the face of your organisation to the new and potential employees. It is also responsible for the image that your current employees have about you and the company. HR is responsible for making the company policies, forming the organisational culture and maintaining it and also upkeep of the values of the company. Hence, the contribution of HR to the employer branding becomes very crucial. However, this can’t be done by HR all by themselves.
Building a strong employer brand is not a one-step activity. It is a more organised process which works in a constant circular motion. Periodically analyse the change, take inputs from employees, make it a part of the top management’s agenda and deploy internal communication in a way that your employer brand stays relevant for your existing employees. Apart from your HR team, your existing employees are the second most important custodians of your employer brand. It is through them that your potential employees learn about your organisation and its way of work. Last but not the least, ensuring the right employer brand is sustained is more of a collaborative responsibility than just the HR’s job.
At Yellow Spark, we develop employing branding strategies for our clients. Should you wish to develop plan of action to build a positive employer brand, write to us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.