The 8 Strategic Pillars of Employer Branding – Part 1
The global competition for talent has been fiercer than ever, forcing organisations to do more to attract, engage, and last but not least retain the talent that will help them to achieve their business goals. Gone are the days of aimlessly spreading job posts on job boards and social media channels and welcome the new era of Employer Branding Talent Attraction.
I will argue that posting your jobs on job boards is entirely futile but it’s certainly diminishing in its effects, let alone the return on investment. Instead, have you ever considered the value of your employer brand and what it could do to attract the right talent for the right jobs?
There is a reason why you, the reader, working where you work, are still with your company. This is because the company you work for is offering you an intrinsic value that you haven’t experienced or seen with other employers. And that’s the sweet spot. Of every company.
Every company has an employer brand whether they realise it or not. It’s your reputation as an employer and will give a signal to your potential candidates if they want to work with you or not. And there’s a plethora of reasons and touch-points they consider and go through before they make their final decision.
In short, having a strong employer branding strategy will help you to attract talent that is already interested in working with you before they realise it.
I’ve listed 8 important topics that are imperative in creating a solid, candidate-generating, employer branding strategy.
Let’s dive in:
1. Determine your organisation’s business objectives and the talent that’s needed to meet those objectives
Let’s assume you’re in the cookie-manufacturing business (just to make the topic less hardy). Who would you rather hire? Someone who knows how to bake cookies (because s/he did it for a charitable purpose without any other intent) or someone who has a true passion for baking, striving to make the most delicious cookies one could imagine?
Chances are you will choose for the latter. And the reason is simple, why hire someone who does because s/he NEEDS to do it rather than someone who is passionate about your core business and LOVES doing it every single workday?
Any other company would choose the former simply to fill up the vacancy as soon as they can to keep the cookie production up. But against what price? The person you just hired loses interest in 6 months (if not sooner) and you will end up dissatisfied because the cookies taste like the ones at your SubWay next door.
In other words, they just invested a lot of time and money teaching someone about your core business subconsciously knowing that this person will leave you rather sooner than later anyway.
And that’s okay.
Just like every other decision you make, this is one of those moments you need to learn from and in this case you should answer the question “what kind of person is right for my organisation?”.
It’s not just about the money. It’s about finding someone who is passionate about your core business, someone you could recognise yourself in due to the passion you and your potential both have for what you do best, and scale your business with a strong team.
So, your applicant didn’t even last a full year. Where did it go wrong?
Back to the drawing board.
2. Evaluate your current employer brand image among potential recruits and the employer brand experience of your current employees.
Unless you are a one-man business chance are you have a couple of people working for you. It’s a tough question to ask, but have you ever wondered “why do they work for me?” Simply asking that question one way or another reveals so many opportunities to improve yourself as an employer of choice but also to get some feedback from your current employees regarding how it is to work for you.
In one of the worst case scenarios, half of your staff will tell you they are dissatisfied with the way feedback is given (for example). Don’t take it to close to your heart but rather search for solutions so that your people’s needs are met and you get valuable information that you can use to improve your business. And as an added bonus you will know what is important to people who work at your company which means you know how to attract other people that share the same values.
3. Define your employer value proposition and the key ingredients that makes your organisation a distinctively great place to work.
Before you kick off your employer branding initiatives you need to take the following three items into consideration.
Since the purpose of your employer branding efforts is aimed at attracting people with the right knowledge and skills, you need to think about what do you have to offer in return. Typically companies offer money, development opportunities, and the ability to make an impact in exchange for the creativity, passion, knowledge and skills of the candidate.
What you have to offer to current and future candidates is what makes your employer value proposition i.e. your EVP.
Note: An effective EVP describes your current reality and your realistic aspirations – things you want to achieve in the future. It entails what you as an employer want to be known for.
To achieve this you will need to break down your EVP into your core positioning statement which could be a one-liner that describes why your organisation is a distinctively great place to work. Consequently, your EVP needs to be backed up with three to five pillars that expand upon your core positioning statement and supports it.
To give you a better idea of how this looks like we take Facebook as an example:
- Core positioning statement: Connecting the world needs the participation of everyone.
- EVP pillar 1: Create social value: Facebook’s aim is to connect the world and encourage openness.
- EVP pillar 2: React quickly: By quickly reacting to changes we might make mistakes but it’s better than not moving at all and miss out on valuable opportunities. We foster a culture of creators who enjoy the autonomy to build great things.
- EVP Pillar 3: Be audacious: Creating great things means taking risks. As far as we are concerned the biggest risk is by taking no risk at all.
Once you have created all of the above you are ready for the next step in the cycle.
4. Building your employer brand framework.
This includes the creative elements that collectively capture the look and feel you want to convey and the emotion you want to evoke.
Any employer brand is essentially aimed at being able to catch the eye of potential candidates by being clear and consistent. The brand framework helps you to establish and maintain an employer brand that looks and feels consistent.
Elements of the employer branding framework:
- Employer value proposition
As I described in the previous bit, you EVP comprises the ingredients and elements that is your employment offer. It should have the elements that offset you from your key talent competitors.
- Company logo
The way your logo looks on print, online, and in your communication channels might seem like a small feat but it really isn’t. By being truly consistent in the way your company presents itself it makes all the difference. Think carefully how it looks when you decide to have your logo present on websites, ads, pamphlets, etc. Every touch point your potential candidates go through will have the same logo with an appropriate size and helps them to remember it.
- Design elements
Aside from the logo itself, you got to stand still and think a bit how your company’s logo looks like on all the different formats. Whatever it is you decide on you have to make sure that the colours, shapes, and buttons are there to reinforce brand recognition. Not obfuscate it.
- Colour palette and fonts
Akin to the design elements, make sure that you include an array of colours, shapes, and fonts that are suitable for communicating your employer brand.
In short, your brand must convey reliability and trust to your target candidates. Keep in mind though that there needs to be some wiggle room for change as the preferences from employees and candidates will change over time. The employer branding framework will help you by preserving your core positioning statement whilst being forgiving for some minor changes that might occur over time.
While we are working on part 2 of this strategic pillars of employer branding guide…
This has been a lot to digest and I wouldn’t worry too much about all the definitions this guide overwhelmed you with. Employer branding programmers can be difficult to set up let alone maintain them. This is why we welcome anyone who might have questions to get in touch with us.
In case you have any success stories to share with us we would love to hear from you! For those that are still puzzled by the many definitions and are still a bit lost, do get in touch with us. We would be happy to see what you’re trying to achieve for your organisation and how we might be able to help!
Lets start a new project!
Don’t make a revolution, join the talent evolution. Think outside the box and start today using forefront employer branding solutions.