What does your employment brand look like? Who’s it attracting and why?
At a time when labour markets are tight and skills shortages rife, the power of brand to both attract and keep top people is increasingly vital. But, as Australian employment branding consultant and author Brett Minchington warned a recent Masterclass series in New Zealand, it’s not just about how you word your ads. It is, he says, a whole-of-business concept.
“It starts inside the business, so when we look at what people we want to attract, you look at your best performers and ask, through surveys or workshops, what they are saying about the employment experience. What’s being done well, what could be done better?”
Leaders need to know where they want to take the company and then create some compelling messages to put to target audiences. Consistent delivery is vital.
“If you look at a company like Virgin, their services brand aligns very closely with their employer brand. When you’re on a Virgin plane, you know you’re on a Virgin plane and that consistency is across a lot of the [Richard] Branson brands. The same with Google. A lot of organisations do what these organisations do – they package the brand well and are good at communicating it out.”
In his book, Your Employer Brand: attract, engage, retain (Collective Learning Australia, 2006), Minchington explores the rise in employer branding worldwide and the factors driving it. These include a more mobile workforce, decreasing birthrates, an ageing population, emigration, an increasing focus on corporate social responsibility and the decreased loyalty of younger workers.
Since then, he’s been focused on developing metrics and tools to measure and benchmark employer brands. The Minchington-Thorne Employer Brand Global Index (MTEBGI) measures employee perceptions of brand effectiveness across 14 constructs seen as making a fundamental contribution to employer brand development – from strategic intent, recruitment and communications to leadership, corporate social responsibility, people development and customer relationships.
“Measures are both quantitative and qualitative – what are current employer values, key drivers. Talk to employees, leaders to discover what are the key attributes that attract and engage. Do a communications audit to look at how they communicate the employment experience across all the different portals.”
Whether they specifically identify it or not, every company has an employment brand – and it is daily being either boosted or trashed by what is communicated both internally or externally. The trick is to own it. Companies that live by their employer brand, notes Minchington, are those that consistently deliver through their people, products, premises and processes a consistent level of service excellence.
And while gaining an ‘employer of choice’ tick helps, he notes that brands are dynamic constructs.
“You can’t freeze an employer brand in time or shout it to the marketplace as a concept. It’s something you constantly work at and can enhance in a range of ways – from how you manage talent, exit people out, internal culture ... People ask which is the best employer brand in the world and I say there isn’t one – there is no index for that and it’s not frozen in time.”
However, he and work colleague Kay Thorne have undertaken a benchmark study for the MTEBGI in Australia which revealed that while employers were seen as effectively delivering their brands through measures like corporate social responsibility, they fall short on people development, leadership and global perspective. A similar study will be undertaken in New Zealand, says Minchington.
Companies are becoming more receptive to the message that employment brands matter, he says.
“Those companies that are adopting this philosophy are getting the benefits. That can be measured through HR metrics – how long does it take to employ someone, what sort of fit are they to what we want, how much is it costing to recruit that person, what are turnover rates. Or you could look at measures of employee engagement through staff surveys. Or look at the number of hits on your website.”
How and where brands are communicated is also a dynamic area – should companies have a presence in Second Life or on Facebook? Then there’s destination marketing, adds Minchington looking out over Auckland harbour.
“I had no idea how beautiful this city is. As a value proposition, this country, this city should sell itself better as a lifestyle choice. As a place to come and work, it’s sensational.”