When you decide on a restaurant to go to, what do you do? Most likely, the answer is that you would ask people you trust for their opinion on where to go, or you might search Google to find somewhere that has great reviews. The same applies to the movies you choose to watch or how you approach selecting your next holiday hotel.
Now put yourself in the shoes of an accounting professional looking to move to a new company. No matter where you end up, a large proportion of your time each day is going to be spent at your new workplace. In today’s age of information, should your potential place of employment come under any less scrutiny than where you decide to stay on your next holiday? It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t. As an employer, if you aren’t seen as a great place to work, you could be missing out on securing top talent. So, what is employer branding and how can you successfully leverage it to attract top talent? Read on to find out.
With so much information now available at the click of a button, people are starting to put more time and effort than ever into researching prospective employers and are more discerning when selecting one. Where previously everybody wanted to work at ASX-listed companies, now it’s more about what individual organisations offer; their company culture, values, ethics and community efforts.
Employer branding is conveying your internal culture to an external audience, increasing your brand recognition with targeted prospective employees. It can be driven by your own internal values, but more often it emerges naturally through the way that your team interacts with and within the company. Traditionally, workplace culture was hard to gauge from the outside in (and to some extent, it still is), but the internet has made it possible for people to look up their prospective employers, monitor their social media channels, read testimonials from current or former employees on sites like Indeed or increasingly on Glassdoor, and gain an insight into what it would be like to work there.
This means that, in today’s interconnected society, having an employer brand is no longer a choice. Like it or not, it’s already out there. The only choice you have is the degree to which you take control of it. If you don’t, you risk having a neutral – or worse, negative – reputation. With people now paying more attention to it, a less-than-positive employer brand could be a make-or-break factor for top candidates. Therefore, implementing a proactive, long-term employer brand strategy to better position yourself in the market is crucial to attracting great talent.
Research shows that employer brand is important to candidates. In fact, in Australia, 52% of professionals stated that employer brand is the aspect they’re most influenced by when considering a new role. Moreover, being seen as a great place to work also has flow-on effects outside of just talent attraction, and will help you to retain your best people. Research has shown that companies with strong employer brands experience 28% less turnover.
Though you might feel that you already have a good idea of what it’s like to work for your company, people throughout the organisation may have different thoughts and opinions. Getting input from a wide range of people across your organisation is crucial in maintaining the authenticity of your employer brand. One way to do this is to run focus groups or surveys with your employees and use their feedback and experience to build the foundation of your employer brand. If the feedback exposes any issues with your internal culture, then ensure that you address these immediately. For example, if work/life balance is cited as an issue, then look at how you might implement flexible hours. This will allow you to focus your branding efforts, as well as improve your employees’ work environment at the same time.
If your employees aren’t engaged and invested in your workplace, then it is likely your positive branding efforts won’t work as successfully as you might have hoped.
Although the internet has put the onus on organisations to control their brands, it also opens several opportunities to market, and subsequently strengthen, your employer brand. As much as you might see social media sites like Glassdoor or Indeed as a threat, you can also use them to your advantage. Empower your team to spread the word about you by encouraging them to talk about you on social media or leave good reviews online. If you are able to, use company social media channels to publicise internal events and highlight the accomplishments of your team (with their permission of course!). This is a great way to share how much you value and appreciate your team and will get people talking about your organisation.
Empowering your team isn’t just limited to online activities either. Remember that when it comes to marketing yourself as a great place to work, your employees are your most valuable brand ambassadors. They’re the ones who are on the frontline of your business, involved in the day-to-day operations.
Giving your team the opportunity to get involved with industry events is a great way to maximise your organisation’s visibility. This can range from having your leadership team represent you at an annual conference to encouraging your subject matter experts to join a MeetUp group; a social media platform where like-minded individuals can meet informally to discuss a diverse range of related topics. Setting this kind of involvement up (or backing your team if they do it themselves) can reap great benefits when it comes to presenting your brand. Do what you can to help your team represent you as best as possible by equipping them with business cards or other branded collateral.
If you have employees who are happy to get involved with these events and are credible enough to speak at them, then give them that opportunity. We saw several companies do this at the recent CPA Congress to great effect, using their most credible people to give industry-specific insights. This practice reflects well on you as an employer, as their credibility will rub off on the organisation and shows that you have great people working for you – a key draw card for top candidates.
Naturally, when marketing your brand, it can be tempting to oversell certain elements or present yourself as something you’re not. Though you may attract a certain type of candidate this way, they will quickly become disengaged once they realise that the reality is very different from what they were expecting. Regardless of whether you’re an enterprise or a small business, a funky startup or a fast-paced, business-driven environment, don’t hide who you are as an organisation. Take ownership of your identity and present it honestly in your employer branding. This way you’re more likely to engage people who are a good fit for your company culture, which in turn will result in a more engaged workforce.
Although the basis of your employer brand is built upon the experience you give your current employees, remember that it’s also a recruitment tool. This means that the strength of your employer brand also needs to be reflected in your recruitment process. From the moment that a candidate applies for a job, they’re interacting with your brand, so ensuring a good candidate experience is crucial. Make jobs easy to apply for and be communicative with candidates throughout the process. Even if you’re giving them bad news, a call to provide constructive feedback, enabling improvement, can go a long way to making a good impression.
If you’re a larger company or you’re dealing with a high volume of applications, then this may not be tenable. By engaging a third-party recruiter, you can outsource the recruitment process to an expert to ensure that it’s being handled professionally and positively.
We now have more options available to us than ever before, across all aspects of life, and the world of employment is no different. With so much information widely available on employers, taking control of your employer brand is crucial to continuing to attract top-level talent.
By getting input from across your organisation to maintain authenticity in your employer branding, you can ensure that you attract skilled candidates who are the right fit for your company’s culture. If you’re looking for more advice on how to maximise your recruitment capability, feel free to get in touch.
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