Employer branding is one of the most hotly discussed functions in HR today. Companies are committing significant resources and budgets to lift the perception of themselves as an employer of choice during these talent-scarce times. They understand that in today’s highly digitally-shared world, having a strong brand is critical to talent acquisition and talent retention.
However, if you’re like many organisations, managing your employer brand may seem difficult and even intimidating. After all, brand management is typically the domain of marketers and not HR, so it’s a set of skills that doesn’t come naturally to human capital leaders. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop an effective brand strategy on your own or undertake critical activities to support that strategy. In fact, organisations around the world are able to support their employer branding efforts with budgets large and small.
The most important step for getting started is to be clear about what is and isn’t employer branding, a consideration that still confounds some organisations. Like a product or corporate brand, your employer brand has existed as long as you have been in business. It is represented at every touchpoint with current and prospective employees and is their collective perception of you as an employer. Through your employee value proposition (EVP), your brand tells them why they should join and and stay at your organisation. Most importantly, your employer brand should be an asset in your efforts to attract the skills you need for your organisation.
You should be clear that your employer brand is the perception of workers and not customers, although sometimes they can be one and the same. This is especially true of consumer product companies. Regardless, the main objective of your employer branding strategy isn’t to sell your products or your corporate brand; that’s the role of your marketing department. That said, you shouldn’t regard employer branding as a standalone entity. It’s a part of your overall brand portfolio and should be supported in a consistent way as your other brands.
To help you avoid such pitfalls, here are four myths you should overcome in your effort to create a more compelling employer brand:
Myth 1: You are the creator of your employer brand
Your employer brand exists regardless of the effort you put towards it. Think of it as the collective perception the public has of your organisation based on many touchpoints. There are ways to influence and shape that perception but you don’t actually create it. You can affect it through your corporate or product brands. How your industry is perceived may also help or hinder your employer branding efforts. What your advocates or detractors say and share about you online also have a significant impact. Some of these factors can be controlled while others cannot. The sooner you realise this, the better you can focus on the factors that influence your brand.
Myth 2: Employer branding is a one-time effort
Companies often “define” their identity through a branding exercise and then believe their work is done. However, because businesses are always evolving, resulting in different types of skills that are needed, updates to the employer brand may be needed. A common example is the ongoing digitalisation of industries around the world. To compete for these new skill sets, companies that have not traditionally presented themselves as digital businesses will need to do so to compete with IT specialists for skills such as developers and programmers, robotics engineers and AI specialists.
Myth 3: Your employer brand is the same as your corporate brand
It’s true that they are separate strands of the same DNA, but the clear distinction is that one speaks to a very broad audience while the other addresses the talent you hope to attract and retain. Your employer brand should uphold your corporate brand values but it also needs to address the needs of workers. The employee value proposition developed as part of the employer brand emphasises to job seekers and employees the reasons for joining your organisation, which typically is not part of your customer value proposition.
Myth 4: It’s impossible to measure the impact of your employer branding efforts
Capturing the effect a strong employer brand strategy has on your organisation can be tricky, but not impossible. There are metrics you should consider, such as time to fill, quality of hire, number of applicants and others. The important thing is to understand the goal of your brand-building activities and the associated outcomes. If you are seeking to attract more Millennials, for instance, you may want to measure engagement on social channels. If greater workforce diversity is the goal, consider the composition of candidate slates to determine if you are attracting more diverse applicants.
By understanding what your employer brand is and isn’t, you can begin to undertake activities to shape the perception of that brand. An important part of that work is to examine the impact that your candidate experience has on your brand strategies. By addressing the various touch points workers have with your organisation, you can elevate your brand and attractiveness as an employer above your competitors.
For further insights into what Kiwis consider the most important when evaluating an employer's attractiveness, download the full Employer Brand Research 2018 by clicking here.