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Capturing Top Talent – Employer Branding Affords the Competitive Edge

As the hyperbole heats up across our politics and markets with unprecedented campaigns – both in how they were run and the results – we in HR and talent continue to try to see through fake news for clarity on our own weighty matters. Namely, our customers expect products and services in ever new and different ways, and our employees and organisations are no longer the same. Changing demographics, an increasingly digital world, and the burgeoning global/gig economy mean that employers need to think quite differently about the very definition of work.

So how do we innovate, create and deliver to meet our customers’ needs and wants? First, we need the right people engaged in new and different ways. We must provide them sustainable careers that deliver value across the board. And by doing so, our people will deliver exceptional products, services and experiences to our customers. The challenge is how we do all of this whilst the economic and talent landscape VUCA’s its way to the left and to the right.

Consumers today are increasingly savvy. Whether they’re looking for a holiday destination, buying new shoes, or finding somewhere to dine out, they’ll head online. They’ll read reviews, search Google, and look for recommendations on social media before making a purchase. They’ll seek other people’s views and opinions as they want to build relationships with brands that they trust and can rely on.

The same shrewd approach is being adopted by jobseekers, as the average candidate spends two hours researching an organisation before applying to work there.[1] However, those searches often uncover nonspecific job descriptions, generic online videos, and social media that fails to communicate the culture, benefits and human side of the company. The results can be uninspiring.

In the same way that holiday companies, fashion labels and restaurants with strong brands look for ways to engage and inspire existing and potential consumers, HR teams should be supporting their organisation to build and establish their employer brand to ensure they can to attract and retain the best talent. 

Your employer brand is therefore an increasingly relevant component. What do we offer candidates, whether they be leaders, gig workers or college graduates? What do we expect back in return? And most importantly, how does this delight our customers and drive bottom-line benefit?

Your employer brand is the sum of all the experiences and perceptions that employees, candidates (and indeed customers) have of you as an employer. It communicates your employee value proposition (EVP), which is one of your core blueprints for your talent strategy. It goes far beyond general corporate branding or a marketing slogan as we are marketing careers and livelihoods rather than products or services.

Central to this premise is what makes our organisation different and what this means for our people. This is even more relevant for millennials and gig workers, and so progressive organisations are increasingly leveraging completely new ways of working, collaborating and communicating. And these are characterised by transparency (welcome or not), stories and rich content.

In terms of tactics, table stakes are segmented messaging (especially Inclusion & Diversity), authentic imagery/content, and careers websites that inspire and convert, not discourage and deter. Further up the value chain, social media and community platforms can be leveraged and augmented by people stories, videos and memes. Organisations are looking to bring the career experience to life and for this content to be consumed where the candidates are, not just on the corporate careers pages. From integrated talent marketing campaigns across Snapchat, Instagram and live events to viral project collectives for gig workers, engaging today’s talent is very different from the not too distant past.

Research shows that candidates trust employees three times more than the company itself.[2] So, as well as using your employees in photos, consider featuring them in videos and encouraging them to proactively tell the story of your organisation’s brand in blog posts on your website and on social media. This may sound risky, but people talking passionately and positively about your organisation in an authentic way will do more to inspire candidates than any marketing slogan or corporate video.

When you generate new content, make sure you have a strategy that integrates it throughout the various touchpoints in the candidate’s journey to achieve the most leverage. Whatever strategy you decide upon, the most important thing is to focus content on what prospective talent cares about.  Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you wanted to know before you joined your organisation.

Finally, how do we measure success of your employer brand efforts – both in terms of recruiting talent and ongoing performance? An integrated dashboard needs to resonate across multiple business drivers – cost, growth and minimising risk.

From a cost perspective, this would include reducing recruitment costs by increasing direct hiring and reducing agency/media spend as well as regretted attrition. Driving quicker time to hire and increasing mobility will also significantly reduce short-term costs as well as increasing productivity in the longer term. From a risk perspective, think more about sustainable business – having the right people in the right place at the right time for business continuity, scalability and ability. We now also look to reputation management and brand integrity whilst having an inclusive and diverse workforce to drive value across all areas, especially growth. How can we possibly delight our increasingly diverse customers if we aren’t ourselves? If we have an employer brand that engages and inspires all our people, we can achieve a better quality of hire that will foster a sustainable culture of engaging and high-performing talent. It will go a long way towards generating innovation, customer advocacy and bottom-line performance.

[1] https://www.cielotalent.com/insights/employer-branding-and-employee-generated-content/

[2] https://www.cielotalent.com/insights/employer-branding-and-employee-generated-content/

Andy Curlewis – Senior Vice President – Brand, Digital & Communications at Cielo Talent

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