How Much Have You Invested in Employer Branding?

With the fiercely competitive nature of talent acquisition, what can organizations do to make sure their recruiting is up to

The demand for highly skilled workers is on the rise, with no indication of it plateauing anytime soon. With the fiercely competitive nature of talent acquisition, what can organizations do to make sure their recruiting is up to speed?

To succeed in this hyper competitive skills market, JobVite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey found that recruiters plan to invest more in social recruiting (73%), referrals (63%) and mobile (51%). However, the survey’s key finding is that recruiters cannot rely on just one platform or channel to win the quest to engage with candidates. Rather, successful recruitment efforts will involve showcasing the employer brand and engaging with candidates across multiple platforms.

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Open to Offers

Another recent study found that 69 percent of employed workers are either seeking a new job or are open to offers. That means finding and hiring the right people is only half the battle. You’ve got to work hard to hold onto your top talent rather than see them lured away. 

Who Are You?

To be effective your employer branding must faithfully convey your company’s vision, values, personality and culture. Your employer branding must be consistent. Starting with your recruitment advertising, candidate selection and on-boarding process, it must go much further. Employer branding extends to internal communications, management practices, IT systems, career development, training, salaries, incentives and rewards. It even goes beyond the exit interview. Happy ex-employees can be powerful advocates.

Of course, employer branding isn’t just about the fluffy stuff. Having the ability to recruit the best talent and retain highly skilled people can have a dramatic effect on your company’s productivity and profitability. Low staff turnover reduces costs and disruption. Happy, motivated workers are more productive and take fewer sick days. Your employer brand also effects how the wider world sees your business including customers, partners, shareholders and the markets.

Perception is Everything

There have been five major banking scandals since the financial crisis of 2008. The FX world has seen its fair share of turmoil, the Swiss National Bank’s decision to end its cap of the franc against the euro in January 2015 being the most recent episode. Let’s be honest here, if perception is everything then the general view of the financial service sector isn’t great. That means FX brokers are already on the back foot when it comes to recruiting the brightest and best talent. 

Changing Perceptions

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According to a recent YouGov survey becoming a soldier is one of the UK’s least desirable jobs. A job in banking didn’t score much higher, and a career in retail FX trading didn’t even make the list. As an employer brand the British Army has certainly had a tough time recently. A series of questionable, protracted, bloody foreign wars, scandals over equipment, defence cuts and organisational restructuring have made Army recruitment an ever-increasing challenge. In response to a sustained period of negative press the British Army has launched a series of media campaigns, the most recent focusing on recruiting more part-time reservists.

Talking to the Recruiter in March 2013 Brigadier Andrew Jackson, director of recruiting and training for the British Army, explained how they have modernized the recruitment process by better exploitation of channels such as social media, mobile apps, online psychometric and medical testing, as well as providing candidates with more career information. The Army have also developed an online game called Start Thinking Solider that helps with the recruitment and selection process. You can take to the rifle range or experience a fire and maneuver mission, and then post your scores on Facebook, for example. All of this effort is about strengthening the Army’s brand, changing perceptions among its target audience of young men and women, and finding the right talent when technological know-how is as critical to military operations as boots and bullets. 

Building Your Employer Brand

So how do you go about developing a compelling employer brand? Well, first you need to understand where you are now and where you want to get to as an organisation. What are the most attractive things about your business to existing and prospective employees? What do people dislike and why? What roles, skills and attributes are essential to your current success? What will you require from future employees to achieve your business objectives? How do employees and outsiders perceive your organisation? Only once you clearly understand your current situation can you start to develop an employer brand strategy, and tactical implementation plan.

It’s important to remember that ownership of your employer brand is everyone’s responsibility, not just the preserve of HR or marketing. Senior management should make every effort to lead from the front but your employer brand should be something that’s continually cultivated until it’s in the very DNA of your organisation: something that everyone understands, feels and genuinely believes. You cannot fake it. If there is any disconnect between what the organisation says it believes and aspires to and what it actually does then all your efforts at culture change will fail. 

Brand Alignment

It is essential that your external brand and employer brand are perfectly aligned. Your employees are the living, breathing embodiment of your brand and serve as brand ambassadors even when they’re off the clock. If there is any discontinuity between your external marketing and your employees’ workaday experiences then they won’t hide their disappointment, criticism and frustrations. It’s important to remember that employee engagement doesn’t just happen overnight.

It takes time to develop your employer brand and have it permeate every aspect of your organisational culture. There’s little point in telling candidates that your organisation supports innovative thinking, encourages swift career development and funds training when the reality is quite different. People simply won’t stay, and they’ll share their bad experiences far and wide. In fact, 78% of applicants surveyed by SoftwareAdvice.com said they would share their bad recruitment experiences with friends and family. One third of those applicants went onto say they would be less likely to purchase products or services from that company in the future.

Long-Term Advantage

The best employer brands recognise that their goals and objectives are really something of a moving target. Business needs, staff expectations and customer perceptions are always changing. Organisations must continually adapt to new situations and circumstances to stay ahead. That’s why it’s essential to monitor your employer brand using tools such as employee satisfaction surveys, forums and exit interviews to gain invaluable insights, and adjust as necessary. Organisations that understand and truly value their employer brand will ultimately find themselves with a long-term advantage over their competitors.

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