Employer Branding: just another thing to put on that never-ending list of things to “look into later”. But like a product brand, your Employer Brand is being established, changed and talked about whether you like it or not. Because a brand is not a concrete object, it’s perception. An Employer Brand is the perception of your business as an employer; is your company seen as Creative? Competitive? Bureaucratic? Prestigious?
Why does it matter?
Many parts of Canada are in a candidate shortage, especially in provinces such as Alberta and Manitoba. In fields such as engineering, manufacturing and healthcare, there are far more job vacancies than skilled workers to fill them. Couple this with an ageing population and a widening knowledge gap as Baby Boomers enter retirement; the “War for Talent” has become very real.
What is it?
An employer brand is shaped by the whole employee experience, from attraction to hiring, to employment and retention. Right from your job description, to your onboarding experience, to how you handle lay-offs, employer brand is affected by all these activities.
How do you build it?
Building a strong employer brand isn’t about flashy ad campaigns or simply putting a foosball table in your office. Employer branding is a commitment to an employer strategy that lives and breathes in every part of your business.
Set your goals – Are you trying to attract difficult-to-find talent? Do you have a problem with retention? Identify what challenges and opportunities will affect your employer strategy.
Know who you’re targeting – Who are you trying to attract? What do they value from an ideal employer? How do they like to communicate? Are you reaching them through your current hiring efforts?
Know your competition – How are your competitors positioning themselves? How can you differentiate?
Develop your EVP (Employee Value Proposition) – From all your above research, disseminate exactly what it is you want to bring to the table as an employer. Your EVP doesn’t have to be a flowery statement, but it should be a clear commitment to your employees and prospective talent of what they can expect from your company.
For example, McDonald’s recognizes turnover is a big issue in the fast food industry and developed an EVP based on three pillars – “Family & Friends,” “Flexibility,” and “Future.” Each pillar has its own employee-based definition:
Family & Friends – “I work in an enjoyable, energizing atmosphere where everyone feels part of the team.”
Flexibility – “I have a challenging, varied job that has the flexibility to fit into my lifestyle.”
Future – “I have an opportunity to grow and progress by learning personal and work skills that will last me a lifetime, whatever I choose to do.”
Put words into action
Defining how you’re going to position your brand is only the beginning, now you have to act. From how you interview, to the layout of your office space, every employee touch point should reinforce the culture and brand you want to project. For example, let’s say a tech company has the goal to increase product innovation through increased collaboration. They might choose to incorporate team exercises in their hiring process, or work in revolving project teams instead of set departments.
Engage management & spread the word
One of the crucial steps to ensuring employer branding success is to make sure you have the commitment of key management. Managers have a huge impact on the happiness of their direct reports. Management need to believe and adopt company philosophies in order for them to be successful.
Businesses should periodically evaluate whether they are reaching their goals. For example, tracking turnover rates, employee satisfaction surveys, or cost per hire.
Employer brand is living and breathing. It’s in your office, it’s written all over job boards and across social media. You can’t control every facet of it but you can certainly build a strategy to influence it. In Canada’s competitive candidate shortage, a negative employer brand can deter top talent that you may need to keep your business moving ahead.