A recent 2022 LexisNexis survey of professional service firms noted the following:
"The Great Resignation’ is in full swing and firms need to offer more than just high salaries to attract and keep talent. A positive culture, flexible working and systems which support – not hinder – staff are vital”
In addition, a recent report for The HR Research Institute highlighted that most organisations strive to build their employer brand but that they struggle raising awareness of it. Only 32% of those surveyed said that their organisation had an employer brand that was cultivated and well known within their industry. 49% felt the strength of the employer brand was good or excellent at attracting quality job candidates.
Every organisation has an employer brand whether it is cultivated or not. Most organisations try to bring attention to their employer brand through advertising, but the results of these campaigns are disappointing. Only 37% believe that their recruitment campaigns are good or excellent at attracting quality candidates. While 42% believe they get a good or excellent ROI from their employer brand advertising.
The most common barriers to developing a better employer brand are:
Further, a recent study by Weber Shandwick, found that only 19% of the nearly 2,000 global employees surveyed felt strongly that the work experiences their employer promotes publicly was matched by reality. In other words, what employees saw on a careers site or on their company’s social channels, or what they heard from recruiters, was mostly inconsistent with what they experienced when they joined the company.
The same study found that almost one-third of new hires leave their positions voluntarily within the first six months. Beyond the cost to replace staff (estimated at 50%–75% of the new hire’s annual salary), this type of attrition also damages co-worker morale, disrupts customer relationships and in the age of employer review sites like Glassdoor or Indeed, it inhibits companies’ ability to attract new talent. On the other hand, we discovered that companies that deliver on the employer experience they promise get higher results in terms of employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. Their people are more inclined to endorse their employer as a place to work, to share positive things about it online, and to put in more effort than is necessary.
Only 46% of organisations with an intentional employer brand programme say that it is a positive contributor to their DEI ambitions. More than a quarter describe it’s affects as dismal or below average in this regard. Organisations with strong employer brands are more likely to have leadership driving the programme.
In relation to attracting the best Gen Z talent – employers need to understand that they are looking for companies and organisations that have certain values and they want to see real evidence of this through its leaders (particularly the CEO) – how they speak, behave etc. A recent Deloitte paper highlighted that 90% of younger ‘Z’s’ feel companies have an obligation to solve social and environmental problems with 81% noting that they want so to see and hear the CEO actively involved in these issues. This kind of ‘conscious capitalism’ is important to this generation.
It is fair to say, that any organisation that embraces A-typical values such as integrity, professionalism and teamwork, is really no different from many others. If this is so, how can you make your values unique? To produce the kinds of specific outcomes that will allow you to really differentiate your company/organisation, you need to define a unique culture that cultivates the necessary kinds of employee attitudes and behaviours. This will define how your organisation is perceived and experienced by customers and other external stakeholders. If your company culture is aligned and integrated with that identity, your employees are more likely to make decisions and take actions that deliver on your brand promise. Hence you will have values and they may be very typical, but it is how you activate them internally that will define how they are embraced and how successful they will become.
Rooted in Purpose:
The most successful employer brands are rooted in the organisations core purpose and are aligned with their established brand values (Patagonia is a great example of a brand rooted in core purpose). When we work with clients to define what they want their employer brand to be, we strive to ensure there is alignment between core brand and employer brand.
An integral part of all great branding whether it be for an external customer audience or an internal employee audience, is that it should look to leverage its uniqueness to differentiate itself in its markets versus its competitors. The management guru Peter Drucker also captured these sentiments with his famous quote
“Culture eats strategy for lunch”
Without a product or service that you have a monopoly on and that no one can copy (and few can claim this), true differentiation comes from people, from behaviours, from culture.
Hence our starting point with clients is focused on the organisations core purpose, it’s raison d’être. The great businesses and brands always stand for something that they believe will deliver true value or otherwise improve the lives of their customers. They are differentiated from competitors by intentionally and consistently delivering a distinctive customer experience across all channels that is consistent with their promise. And they understand that underpinning all of this is creating the appropriate culture to ensure sustainable and authentic delivery over the long term. Purpose is the foundation stone for successful employer branding. And starting with purpose enables an organisation to build a brand/employer brand from the ‘inside-out’.
The diagram below captures this inter-connection between the elements required to deliver a powerful employer brand.
It begins with core purpose – why you exist and the values which drive your organisation. Any employer branding programme must have this essential DNA or Purpose established so that you can knit it into the business. This contains and articulates your vision and the types of values you hold as important. This also includes your commercial ambitions and your contribution to the community.
The Perception phase must contain the main aspects that employees and potential employees will find attractive about you as an employer. Here they will examine the sort of career they can develop with your organisation, what the working culture is like, how that aligns with their personal preferences and how it looks at participating with the wider community. The community piece will usually include your policies and views on issues such as ESG and DEI - hugely influential for today’s employers and employees.
The Proposition piece contains the Employer Value Proposition (EVP). It is amongst the most important aspects of employer branding. It covers the rewards that the employee can expect in terms of salary, bonuses, benefits, promotion opportunities, training, education etc. and the types of behaviours that are expected in return for these rewards. It is important that the EVP is transparent, so that both parties can be clear about expectations.
The Performance piece is made up principally by the employee experience of working in your organisation. Naturally it is linked to how the EVP is delivered and if employees meet the employer expectations and are rewarded accordingly, then they are likely to have a positive experience. Clearly when employees are positively engaged, they will perform better which benefits all parties. The power of the employee experience is critical in building a powerful employer brand. How you measure your employee experience is also part of this phase. Measuring your employees experience and their overall interaction with the organisation. It should be seen as an integral loop in the overall employer brand programme.
Once you have established the correct ingredients to develop your employer brand and it becomes embedded in the organisation, you will begin to see how it can be an effective tool in relation to making decisions which reflect the organisations values, what behaviours you expect so that your people become equipped with the knowledge and skills to make consistently valuable decision for your organisation.
For more information on developing a successful Employer Brand, email firstname.lastname@example.org.