The Indian talent landscape is one filled with paradox. While we consider ourselves a country of abundant talent, many organisations find it tough to find the right person, for the right job at the right time. With the talent war looming over companies geared for growth, organisations have realised the importance of building an employer brand to attract, engage and retain the right talent. Employer branding is evolving into the strategic glue that connects and binds the various facets of attracting the best talent, developing a skilled talent pool, facilitating proactive employee engagement, retaining top performers and reducing the total cost of talent ownership.
Randstad’s research through the years on employer branding as a concept has revealed key insights, and through this article I will try and provide some key factors that define highly effective employer branding.
1 – Employer branding helps transcend hygiene talent attraction factors
India is one of the countries with the lowest job loyalty. In such talent ecosystems, hygiene factors like salary and perks typically tops the reasons in what employees look for in a new job. A strong employer brand helps position an organisation both externally and internally, communicates powerful benefits such as career opportunities & growth, learning & development, job satisfaction and work-life balance – all of which carry high weightage with the current and future workforce. Employees are willing to sacrifice their expectations of monetary compensation for a chance to be associated with such successful employer brands. Also, organisational culture, ethics and contribution to society are predominant factors that define the strength of the brand and its capability to attract and retain top talent. Companies with a healthy work culture are known to have greater employee retention rates.
2 – Employer branding begins with a clear and well-defined Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
The first step to building a powerful employer brand is to develop a strong EVP. A compelling, clearly defined EVP that is in sync with the company’s vision throws light on the values of the company as an employer. An effective EVP is not about individual employee experiences alone, but the collective perceptions of the organisation as projected by all employees. It also differentiates the brand from its competition while determining deciding factors such as salary, perks, scope for training and development, flexible work environment, and organisational culture. A powerful EVP elevates the organisation’s brand identity as an attractive place to work. Studies indicate that high performing organisations with a good EVP have 3 to 4 times more employees displaying higher levels of commitment, than organisations that have poor performance.
3 – Employer branding should be continuous, not a one-time activity
Employer branding is not a one-time activity. It is an integral part of the organisational strategy in improving and propagating the brand’s market image. The brand message must continuously evolve and mature over time based on reviews, feedback, and experiences of internal and external stakeholders, for the organisation to stay relevant in the ever-changing talent acquisition landscape. In a poll that we did with over 350 senior HR leaders, close to 70% felt that less than half of the employees in their organisations know and understand the EVP. Hence, it is important to continuously communicate and measure the awareness and the impact of employer branding initiatives to facilitate improvements and achieve sustainability. Candidate perception studies, Employee satisfaction surveys, team building activities and exit interviews are useful tools that provide relevant insights into the changing perceptions of employees. A good employer brand will always have a well-defined learning curve as it is important to regularly monitor and review the brand equity of the organisation in a competitive talent market.
4 – Employer branding helps organisations engage with a multigenerational workforce
Today’s corporate workplaces are a mosaic of individuals from different generations – traditionalists, baby boomers, and millennials – all coexisting in a multidimensional corporate environment. A well defined employer brand strategy becomes imperative to address the needs and aspirations a diverse workforce, be it attracting top talent from outside or inspire employees to outperform themselves. And, strongly influences the human capital of an organisation, irrespective of generation. The employer brand should serve as a buffet offering the right proposition that resonates with each and every employee, while staying consistent to the brand’s identity. Thereby, ensuring that employees themselves turn into strong brand ambassadors for the organisation.
5 – Communicate real-time with your current and future employees
Employees and candidates want to know what the organisation means to them and their professional careers. Good brand visibility and real-time interaction with current and potential employees builds trust, which eventually reflects on the strength of the employer brand. A strong employee engagement strategy backed by a comprehensive communication strategy will accelerate results. Social media has evolved into a powerful brand building channel and needs to be a vital part of the communication strategy. Research indicates that 49 percent of candidates worldwide use social media in their job search – an indispensable tool for recruiters to reach out to the right talent. Job seekers keep themselves updated on career opportunities in companies; they check the online blog posts, videos, and photos posted by companies to learn more about the organisational culture and working patterns.
6 – Tracking the ROI on employer branding leads to long-term success
An important question foremost on every HR leader’s mind is whether it is possible to track the ROI on the employer brand. The employer brand is a critical organisational investment and it is absolutely possible and necessary to measure and track the returns on this investment over a period of time. Several key metrics can be used to track employer branding ROI – Employee satisfaction scores, Attrition trends within the organisation, Time-to-fill ratio, quality of hire, cost per hire, number of employee referrals, employee engagement, brand awareness and attractiveness with prospective employees, number of applications per position, and cost of turnover and onboarding programs. The success of an employer brand also depends on the retention rates and the ease of filling new vacancies – again numbers that can be easily measured and tracked. In fact, studies reveal that retention rate is the most commonly used metric to measure the ROI on employer branding. Organisations need to perform a strategic audit of their employer brand to define key objectives and identify where to focus investments.
7 – Who is the owner of employer branding within an organisation?
The HR function is responsible for the culture and human capital of any organisation. They need to act as the conscience keepers and the bridge between the interests of the management and all employees. The previous section outlined the parameters and metrics to track the ROI for employer branding, and all of them directly impacts the strategic agenda of CHROs. Hence, the HR functions needs to be the primary owner of employer branding in an organization, with support and expertise leverage from the management team, marketing and technology functions.
The ultimate weapon in today’s war for business growth and success is people. Employer branding is an expression of an organisation’s personality and provides a strategic platform to communicate the employee value proposition to attract, retain and engage the people who will make a difference to your business.