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Employer brand helps match talent

Despite economic uncertainty companies still invest in their employer brand to attract the best talent.

New research by Employer Brand International of more than 3,000 organisations shows that, whilst the economic outlook remains uncertain in many countries, the smart companies continue to invest in their employer brand strategy with 39% of companies planning to increase their investment in the coming year.

Interestingly, 57% of survey respondents said their companies are planning for a growth phase and only seven percent said business is declining.

The global study on a range of key employment variables was undertaken to assist leaders to better understand the regional variances in employment around the world and the key areas impacting on the success of the employer brand strategy in national and global companies.

It is no surprise respondents choose economic issues (41%) as the factor they believe will impact most on their business over the next two years. However, employee capability (18%) ranks second along with shortage of talent (15%) as major issues their companies are facing.

The science and practice of employer branding continues to evolve and, with industry powerhouses such as Linkedin and Randstad also conducting global research in employer branding, there has been a rise in interest in not only developed markets, but in emerging markets where growth forecasts look more positive in the coming years. We also continue to see companies such as Adidas, HSBC, Google, Siemens and Unilever create dedicated employer branding functions inside their companies, recognising the need for an increased focus on the employer brand in a talent short market.

The research findings in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Belarus suggests companies planning to grow their brands in these markets would benefit from an understanding of the key differences employees in these regions seek in their employment offer compared to colleagues in countries such as USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

On the question of who owns the employer brand strategy, the research shows there is a diversity of functions responsible for the employer brand strategy. Thirty-seven percent of employer brand strategies are driven by the human resource department, 18% by the CEO, 14% by marketing, 12% by the executive team and 11% by teams of human resource, marketing and communications professionals.

The level of senior support for the employer brand strategy is improving, with 46% of respondents reporting their CEO supports their strategy.

Living the company values should not be based on rhetoric. This is supported by the survey findings with 60% of respondents reporting their employer brand strategy is aligned with their values and 59% with their mission and vision. Forty-seven percent are also aligning their employer brand strategy with their organisational strategy.

The rapid uptake of social media over the past few years has had a significant impact on the workplace.

Companies who block access to social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter do so at their peril. Sixty-nine percent of companies now allow employees to use social media during working hours. However, 14% of companies continue to block access and 13% allow it during specific times.

The employer brand strategy is having most impact in companies on communications (63%), recruitment and induction (53%), developing people (43%) and talent management (30%).

Companies now have a plethora of channels to communicate their employer brand and to recruit from. However, employees believe the most effective recruiting channels in 2013 will be internal referrals (26%), social media (24%) and the career website (20%). Job boards rank fourth at 11%.

The survey found the most important traits companies look for in employees include a customer focus (63%), good communication skills (59%), collaborative skills (51%) and creative skills (39%). The skills they seek least include risk tolerance skills (8%) and diversity driven skills (9%).

Not optimising talent is one of the major issues impacting on the ability of companies to exploit growth opportunities. The attributes which rate the highest in bringing out the best in employees include a collaborative environment (48%), commitment to employee development (36%), an innovative culture (36%) and a growing company (35%).

There are many obstacles faced by companies in recruiting talent. The survey findings show the biggest obstacles include, being hard to locate the best candidates (29%), not being able to afford the salaries requested by the best talent (28%), the career site not being optimised and not being effective in using social media to recruit (26% each).

It's not so much we are in a talent crisis. I would call it more of a matching crisis. There are seven billion people on the planet and if you can't find the talent to complete the tasks required then maybe it's time to think about changing your business model.

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