3 Employer Branding Best Practices to Implement Today

Alexandra Levit, People Results
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Ten years ago, employer branding wasn’t even on the radar of organizational psychologists. But after a Society for Human Resource Management study revealed that over 67 percent of organizations view employer branding as a strategic recruiting tool to attract top talent and nearly one-half identified the employer brand as a top five strategic initiative, psychologists such as Born and Kang at Cornell University began to look it more seriously.

In their new paper “What are best practices in the space of employer branding that enable organizations to attract and retain the best talent?” Born and Kang define an employer brand as a set of attributes and qualities that make an organization distinctive, promise a particular kind of employment experience, and appeal to those people who will thrive and perform their best in its culture.

The researchers recommend the following best practices for deliberately and systematically shaping your employer brand.

Assess and Shape an Authentic, Consistent Message of What Your Organization Values

To attract and retain critical talent, organizations must make a concerted effort to ensure that they stand for something meaningful as an employer. An effective employer brand is a long-term strategy that permeates every aspect of the employee lifecycle, including recruitment, onboarding, retention, and engagement.

Born and Kang suggest evaluating and understanding your organization’s current value proposition, and ensuring that your employer brand message is authentic and consistent with company practices. You want to be certain that the employment experience you promise to potential employees is one you are already delivering.  A helpful tip is to appoint an experienced brand strategist or influencer to craft an effective brand message.

For example, Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, found that the investment in hiring a marketing manager to drive employer branding initiatives across the organization was well worth it. These branding initiatives resulted in improved retention and applications, outperforming fast-food industry averages.

Communicate the Message by Leveraging the Right Channels

Candidates want to know how a company describes itself and its goals as compared with other organizations. Building a strong employer brand means developing talent management strategies and communicating them inside and outside the organization. Obviously, leveraging social media channels (including newly popular visual networks like Instagram) to promote your employer brand is smart strategy.  You should also provide realistic, accurate and persuasive descriptions of job openings and let your employees do the talking.

For instance, global consulting firm Deloitte sponsored a film festival that explored how employees feel about the firm. A panel of internal and external judges evaluated the 372 short videos entered in the contest based on how well they communicated “Their Deloitte,” effectiveness in attracting and retaining the best talent, and creativity. A survey revealed that 75 percent of respondents showed videos to friends and colleagues outside of the company.

Develop Employer Branding Metrics and Measure Their Effectiveness Against Talent Goals

Failure to develop metrics to monitor the performance of the employer brand could negatively impact an organization’s ability to attract and hire top talent. But all organizations are different, and there’s no standard of measurements that suits every organization.

Examples of traditional metrics that have been used to measure ROI on employer branding activities include cost per hire, time to fill, time to productivity, and candidate satisfaction rates. A growing number of organizations are also exploring and adopting forward looking measures that include promotion readiness rating, external versus internal hire ratio, quality-hire ratio, performance ratings of newly promoted managers and manager/executive failure rate.

Finally, employers should think holistically about the impact of their brands. At VMware, a cloud solutions company, diversity hiring – especially among women – is a major initiative. The company is comparing correlations between Net Promoter Scores and reviews on Glassdoor. In doing so, they are able to perform root cause analysis to identify areas of candidate experience that need improvement. Not only is this improving performance of advertising campaigns targeting key talent demographics (thus driving more traffic and engagement), but it’s also impacting VMware’s quality of hire.

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