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There’s growing concern about finding and retaining the best talent available. Inpexels-photo-191159.jpg competitive markets, companies naturally want to make it as easy as possible to find appropriately skilled people who will succeed in their roles. However, getting it wrong can be a costly exercise. For example, research regularly finds that the costs of staff turnover are massively underestimated; not only in hard economic terms, but also in the impact it has on the morale and team spirit of those who stay.

It’s no surprise then that Employer Branding is a concept that is receiving more focus in the leading business magazines.

Employer Branding is all about the message and feel that the company gives employees and potential employees on what it’s like to work with them. According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions research, a strong Employer Brand is key to engaging passive candidates and attracting the best talent. LinkedIn go on to say that companies will lose out to competitors in the recruitment marketplace if they don’t position themselves as a ‘compelling place to work.’

In May 2015, Richard Mosley wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review about the power of Employer Branding. Citing research with HR managers, he says that the reasons Employer Branding is becoming strategically important are: to help secure recruitment needs, to differentiate the company from competitors and to build a reputation as a preferred local employer.

Employer Branding isn’t a totally new concept and the leaders in the field were initially multinationals like Unilever and Procter and Gamble. However smaller companies have now taken up the baton. Many approach Employer Branding in a similar way to how they develop their consumer brand. The idea is that by matching the brand message to the aspirations and values of the people they are trying to attract and keep, there is more chance of success. In our experience, factors that go to make up the Employer Brand include; corporate culture and values, quality of work environment and facilities, compensation and benefits, career path, financial stability, attitude to learning and development and levels of ethics and compliance.

It’s also evident that a variety of measures are now being used by companies to track changes in their Employer Brand; including visits to website careers pages, engagement on social media, new hire surveys and staff retention numbers.

So, what can you do to start developing your Employer Brand and get the message out so that you can recruit even better people? Here are five steps that we have found can yield results:

1. Take the time out to develop an Employee Value Proposition.  This is a straightforward document that outlines what the company offers in terms of compensation and benefits. Add to this the company values and the intangible benefits that are on offer. You then start building a document that helps you think through areas where the company is unique and ahead of others and also where review or improvement is needed

2. Develop ‘talent profiles’ for the roles you are looking to bring in new people. State the qualifications and qualities needed for the role and then list the things that would make the role attractive to a potential candidate. For example, for commercial roles the chance to take a professional examination can be an important driver. A good way to do this is to speak to the current top performers. Ask questions such as ‘what made you come to work here?’ or ‘what things do you like about working at the company?’ and ‘what areas can be improved?’ Use the exercise to think through where the Employee Value Proposition can be improved and what to do about areas where there are gaps

3. Then think about what you are really good at. Having reviewed and (possibly) improved your Employer Value Proposition following the previous two steps, answer the question ‘what distinguishes our Employee Value Proposition from our competitors?’ The answers will form the basis of the Employer Brand messages that you will want to promote

4. Having identified your areas of strength, start getting the message out. For example, after completing a similar exercise, Adidas found that their top performers were primarily motivated by working creatively with similar sports minded people. They developed a video, ‘I’m Here to Create,’ which is on their careers page. Look at your own company web site and social media – they are likely to be the best places to get the messages out to build your Employer Brand

5. Finally, make sure you deliver on your Employer Brand promises during the candidate selection process. After all, this is the initial experience a potential employee has of the company and first impressions count. Make sure the people doing the recruitment are fully briefed and not only understand your Employer Value Proposition but also the key areas of strength. Think through the candidate experience and make sure it aligns with the brand values you promote. For example, candidates will come away with a negative view of your Employer Brand if they aren’t told timescales for the next steps in the selection process or are unclear about aspects of the role.

The development of an Employer Brand is an exercise in continuous improvement – but one that can be well worth the investment put into it.

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