Original article published in International Association of Business Communicator's, "CW Bulletin"
Since its inception in the early 1990’s the concept of Employer Branding has been the domain of the Human Resources department. Today best practice employer branding is involving the input of the internal marketing and communications departments to support the HR function in what can be a complex process to develop an employer brand for competitive advantage in today’s market where talent and skills are in short supply and increasing demand.
International employer brand strategist, author and presenter, Brett Minchington MBA discusses the role of communication in executing your employer brand strategy.
Your employer brand can be defined as “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the minds of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders).”
Defining, creating and nurturing your employer brand requires the input of communication expertise but we are only just starting see the impact of the marketing and communication department’s input into the company’s employer brand strategy....and the results are encouraging!
When internal communications, marketing and HR departments fail to collaborate on the firm’s employer brand strategy you end up with nothing more than a HR project that burns cash and creates employee cynicism.
The major role communication specialists play in the employer branding process can be grouped into four key areas:
- Communicating the Employer Value Propositions (EVP’s) following the completion of rigorous internal and external research and design phases
- Ensuring the delivery of highly targeted messages about the employment experience to the company’s target audience;
- Tracking, reporting and responding to emerging communication trends in recruitment;
- Optimising the role of the company’s career website to attract talent and passive candidates.
1. Communicating the Employer Value Propositions (EVP’s) following the completion of rigorous internal and external research and design phases
In its simplest form an EVP consists of a set of associations and offerings that characterizes an employer or position and differentiates it from its competitors.
The EVP should answer the following questions:
- Why should I join your organisation?
- Why should I stay
- Why should I give my best
- Why should I recommend your organisation as an employer and business
- Why should I re-join
In depth research with employees and the external market (e.g. potential candidates) will provide an insight into the perception of the employment experience at your company and provide the foundation for developing EVP’s which are unique, differentiated and most of all, ‘believable.’ Employer branding is not about spin, it’s about delivering highly targeted messages about the employment experience to the target audience to attract them to the firm or keep them interested for a time when they are actively looking for a new job.
2. Ensuring the delivery of highly targeted messages about the employment experience to the company’s target audience.
The key to building an employer brand that attracts and retains talent is to effectively communicate the key offering employment offering to the target audience. Companies can no longer rely on traditional media such as press advertising to recruit talent. Today’s talent have access to numerous online and offline communication channels and companies need to ensure the communication of their employment offering cuts through the clutter of increasingly fragmented media (see figure 1).
Figure 1 – Examples of employer branding communication channels
- Career website
- Job boards
- HTML emailers
- SMS job alerts
- Company intranet
- Advertising on social networking sites
- Video testimonials
- Company videos on YouTube
- Digital TV
- Press advertising
- Career fairs
- Guerrilla advertising
- Salary stuffers
- On-campus marketing
- Employee referral programs
- Community events
- Company events
- Performance appraisal
- Induction program
- Welcome packs
Encouraging authentic internal communication amongst leaders and staff is critical in creating an open environment which facilitates a culture of openness where ideas and views can be challenged respectfully.
Open communications builds trust amongst employees and on a foundation of trust anything is possible!
3. Tracking, reporting and responding to emerging communication trends in recruitment
The explosion of social networking sites over the past few years provides a wakeup call for recruiters that candidates and employees now had a forum where they can openly express their opinions about their employment experience. Companies such as Ernst & Young realised early the power of social networking sites to provide transparency in an informal medium for talent to connect with the corporate sector. I believe this was a very smart move by E&Y who now have a Facebook ‘fan’ club of over 15,000 members. A graduate looking at job options will find a wealth of information about the company on their site and they can even post questions about how to join E&Y upon graduation.
4. Optimising the role of the company’s career website
Developments in internet technologies have been rapid and are assisting employers to attract the best minds in the talent marketplace. The use of the internet platform for activities central to the employment process has shifted the paradigm of the traditional recruitment process. The recruitment process is now being supported by online RSS feeds, Podcasting, Blogs, rich media and e-recruitment technology platforms.
The careers website must be a communications vehicle and process enabler and the development process should begin with defining the objectives, scope and resources available to build the site. Best practice career sites such as www.pwc.co.uk, www.phillips.com and www.thewarehouse.co.nz rate highly on key attributes such as content, design, functionality and candidate relationship management.
Given the rapid adoption of the employer brand concept worldwide communication professionals should take the initiative to get involved in the company’s employer brand strategy and offer up their support, insights and resources to the HR department rather than wait to be approached.
Just because you haven’t been asked doesn’t mean your help is not required!