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Employer Branding – Define or be Defined

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A version of this post originally appeared on hrpartners.com.au.

In today’s world where we all have access to real-time information, it is important organisations take control of how they want to be defined as an employer.

In the days before social media, how a company acted within its four walls mattered most to the people who worked there. The rest of the world cared primarily about a business’s performance, not necessarily how it achieved its results. However, those days are gone. In today’s age of radical transparency, organisational values, integrity and ethical standards matter to virtually everyone a company counts as a stakeholder, from customers to shareholders and importantly, current and potential employees. As a result, we have seen an increasing focus by companies to take a more proactive approach in defining and managing their employer brand.

What is employer branding?

It’s all about hearts and minds

Think about the brands you buy. Now ask why you buy those brands. Is it due to price? The quality of the brand? What the brand stands for? Or the reputation of the company that makes that brand?

In the same way you make decisions about the brands you buy, employees are making decisions about the companies they work for. Based on their personal motivators, employees will make decisions based on factors such as a company’s culture, its approach to workplace flexibility or the perceived career opportunities it offers.

Employer branding is concerned with enhancing your company’s employer brand to attract and retain talent. Marketers have for decades used tools to build brand awareness, loyalty and trust to win the hearts and minds of consumers. Now HR practitioners are being increasingly called upon to use similar marketing skills to win the hearts and minds of employees.

It’s about being mutually beneficial

In today’s competitive labour market where companies are competing for the top talent, a company must equally sell itself as an employer so that a candidate and company can understand if they are aligned and a relationship would be mutually beneficial to both.

It’s happened before they even walk through your door

In today’s transparent world, any good candidate will make a judgment about your organisation before they decide to walk through your door for an interview. They will have done their research, including visiting the company’s website and talking to family and friends, let alone social networking sites. They also have the ability to access the opinions of past and present employees through sites such as JobAdvisor or Glassdoor which are based on the successful TripAdvisor model. These sites now provide job hunters direct access to a range of ratings and reviews on what it is really like to work for a company.

Why it’s worth sitting up and taking notice?

Given the growth in access to this type of information, the importance of a company’s own employees as part of the employer brand should not be underestimated. The 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer highlighted that the views of employees are a more trusted source of company information than the CEO (50 percent compared to 43 percent). Furthermore, this year’s Barometer also measured the degree to which credibility varies when talking about different topics, and employees are by far the trusted authority on a company’s culture, integrity, working conditions and related issues.

When managed properly, the employer brand has significant benefit in helping to attract, retain and engage the type of employees that your business requires to deliver success.

Andrew Collett is director of Employee Engagement, Edelman Australia.

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