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Is your employer brand rolled in glitter?

Catherine Fallon, Head of Employee Experience and Partner at creative communications agency Emperor

High demand for the best talent means it is only natural that businesses want their employer brand to stand out from the crowd. Communication campaigns, targeting employees and prospective candidates, often paint a rose-tinted image of life in an organisation, with a heavy focus on the positives such as culture and trendy benefits. While it is great to get the pom-poms out and celebrate what makes the place special, no company is perfect.

So, is it wise to focus on what is good and avoid discussing the inevitable flip-side? Or could failure to tell the complete story and a lack of transparency increase the risk of a bad hire, leading to lost productivity and unexpected costs?

Empowering people to make informed decisions
If organisations want their talent to stay for the long-term, they need to strike a balance between talking about the up-sides and the drawbacks of being part of the team. An organisation’s culture may be dynamic, offering a diverse range of opportunities to learn on the job. However, the pace may be very fast and people might expect a team member to go above and beyond during busy periods. Some people will thrive in this environment, but others may struggle to go the distance.

Leverage the employer brand to let candidates hear about both sides of the experience. Being honest and transparent during the recruitment phase empowers people to make the decision whether this is right for them or not. If candidates walk away form the opportunity after hearing the complete truth, then you have saved yourself a future headache.

Embrace transparency and make it work in your favour
Websites such as Glassdoor are providing candidates with an unfiltered view of working for an organisation, based on past or present employee testimonies. Companies cannot control this narrative around their employer brand. Perspectives will be shared – warts and all.

It is better to embrace any negative aspects of working in a business and put them in context with the positive upside. Bring this to life in your employer brand communications, by profiling your people’s experiences in written case studies or films. Someone may describe the feeling of being thrown in at the deep end and being under pressure to deliver, while also highlighting the culture of empowerment and the on-the-job coaching that is enabling them to progress rapidly. This means capturing employee stories that candidates will be able to relate to and reflect on. By being honest and telling well-rounded stories with pride, your employer brand will be more truthful – enabling trust to grow.

Start as you mean to go on
Conduct research to understand the real experiences people have in their day-to-day roles. These insights can then inform the creation a compelling narrative that explains the pros and cons of working for the organisation. Then make sure that this is reflected in your role descriptions, recruitment marketing and interview questions. If a candidate is currently in a marketing team of 50, but your team consists three people, make that a discussion point. Get them to consider how their experience will change by joining you and what opportunities may arise as a result. It may be that they walk away realising that the role will not meet their expectations, or they may be excited at the chance to operate in a lean team with diverse experiences to fast-track their growth. Make sure that there are no surprises in their first week.

Vicki Marinker, a recruiter and career coach, firmly believes that honesty and authenticity is essential, “Any recruiter worth their salt will challenge their clients to explain what its values, culture and employer brand really mean. And they will soon find out if they have been given a realistic picture. If the company claims to be agile and fast-paced, but the hiring process involves seven interviews with long silences in between, candidates will lose trust.”

Organisations need to be brave and create an employer brand that tells the unveiled truth about working for them, which is communicated well at all stages of the recruitment process. A new employee’s experience needs to live up to their expectations. Rolling your employer brand in glitter helps no one, because hiring a person who becomes quickly disillusioned and unhappy will not provide the long-term value the organisation needs. Transparency and authenticity improves the chances of them becoming a valuable team member who is committed for the long-term.

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