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Is Employer Branding a Key Strategy for Companies Winning Talent?

Recruitment Reports

April 11, 2023

HomeRecruitment ReportsIs Employer Branding a Key Strategy for Companies Winning Talent?
Is Employer Branding a Key Strategy for Companies Winning Talent?

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Is employer branding a key strategy for companies winning talent?

In order for a company to sell its products or services efficiently to the correct audience, it will need to create a compelling brand story to convey its brand mission so that the consumers could better relate to the company. The same principle should be applied to human resources (HR) in terms of recruitment. But how exactly does one build a strong employer brand that attracts top talents? Is it an indispensable strategy for talent acquisition? This report will explore the meaning of employer branding, its importance, some new methods of implementation, and examples of good employer branding.

What is employer branding?

Employer branding is the reputation of a company as an employer amongst its employees or target candidate market (HubSpot). Instead of publicly displaying the benefits and perks of working for a company, the company should strive to showcase the values and work culture of the organisation. The company should convey solid reasons why candidates would want to work for them.

To create a convincing employer brand, organisations cannot simply advertise the top-tier equipment they own, the world-famous chefs they hired for the company food court, or how relaxing their yoga retreats are. Employers have to dig deep and ensure that their values and work culture are reflected in every way possible to make it work.

What is the importance of employer branding for companies winning talent?

An interesting piece from the Guardian mentioned that a company with strong and well-defined employer branding is 93% more inclined to outperform its competition in the same industry, and candidates are more likely to consider a company with a clear employer brand when searching for jobs.

Some fascinating insights were provided by a report from Glassdoor that serves as evidence of the importance of employer branding and why companies should invest in it. Glassdoor surveyed that 86% of candidates and employees value company reviews and ratings before deciding to apply. 75% of job seekers will apply to a company if its employer brand is actively managed. Half of the candidates indicated they would not apply to a company with a bad reputation, even if a pay increase is on the table. Up to 92% of individuals surveyed would contemplate switching jobs if an offer is made from a company with an excellent employer brand. In addition, a company can save up to 50% of cost per hire with a strong corporate reputation and have a 10% increase in cost per hire with negative employer branding. Moreover, organisations can cut down on employee turnover by 28% if they actively invest in employer branding.

employer brand importance

Figure 1: Glassdoor Survey on Employer Branding Source: Glassdoor

New ways of employer branding

  1. Capturing the Attention

According to a Gartner research, catching the attention of prospective talents is not as simple as posting a large quantity of content and being present on as many online channels as possible. Candidates would tune out undesirable and unwanted employer brands. Therefore, companies should create a candidate-value-driven employer brand by following the 5Ws rule.

  • What motivates prospective talents?
  • Where are they present?
  • When will they be receptive to the message?
  • How to create content tailored to the selected channels?
  • Who do they trust more and relate to?

Cisco successfully captured prospects’ attention by following the rule of 5Ws. The company was able to reach out to its target talent by showcasing what it’s actually like to work there with employee-generated content on social media, where target talents were expected to be present based on its private research. With an aim to showcase its strength in diversity hiring, Cisco created a Talent Brand video, ‘Don’t Follow The Herd’, to highlight its unique qualities as a tech company and the specific jobs they are hiring. The video followed 4 employees who discussed their personal stories with Cisco and why they love working there, along with 112 extras from the company.

  1. Fostering the Connection

When a company has captured the attention of target talents, fostering that connection is important. Candidates that have a strong brand connection to a company, are three times more likely to switch jobs even with no salary increase. Organisations with low brand connections are therefore more likely to lose their talents to more engaging companies.


Employer branding candidate decision journey

Figure 2: Recruits’ Willingness to Switch Employers for a Flat Salary (Source: Gartner)

In order to foster those connections, employers should focus on the messages and campaigns delivered. They will not be well perceived if the wording or editing is too formal. The people delivering the messages need to look and feel like the target candidates. A message from the CEO or high-level management is considered three times less credible compared to an employee’s voice (Glassdoor). Furthermore, the type of messages delivered should be relatable to the target talents. Employee experience will help evoke an emotional connection, as candidates will be able to envision themselves working with the company.

Starbucks successfully cultivated a strong community among its employees through its Instagram and Twitter accounts. It refers to the employees as partners, making them feel proud to work there, and it regularly expresses appreciation for them. By doing so, not only did Starbucks increase its employee retention rate, but it also managed to evoke emotional connections with current employees and create desires for job seekers to work there.

  1. Removing the Friction

To ensure an excellent employer brand is to remove any friction that a candidate might face during application, interviews, and onboarding. Gartner proposed that HR professionals should consider a candidate’s decision journey as a typical consumer’s purchasing journey. The recruitment process is evidently another instance where prospects can decide whether or not they wish to continue the application. A Gartner survey showed that 65% of candidates were frustrated with their latest application process, and up to 30% of them even decided not to proceed to interviews. Consequently, HR professionals must consider any friction, such as complicated and lengthy application processes and fear of rejection due to automation, talents might encounter during the decision journey and come up with solutions to manage them. The candidate experience is therefore key to solidifying the organisation’s reputation.

The impact of employer branding visual aid

Figure 3: Example Candidate Decision Journey (Source: Gartner)

  1. Building the Reputation

Based on a piece published in Harvard Business Review, the author believes that to maintain a good brand reputation, organisations should adhere to at least one of the 3Cs in terms of talent acquisition and retention: Career, Culture and Citizenship.

Top talents would flock to places where promotions are offered and there is a chance for professional development, instead of staying stagnant. Secondly, the company’s values should be embedded in all its practices seamlessly, including its recruitment strategy. Prospects want to feel like the company culture and working environment are created with their specific profiles in mind. Lastly, the corporate’s societal commitments are other tell-tale signs candidates observe closely when making decisions on whom to work for.

For example, MassMutual, a life insurance and financial services company, has a strong focus on diversity in the citizenship aspect. It offered antiracism training, increased diversity in high-level management, invested more with diverse suppliers, and engaged actively with LGBTQ+, disability and veteran communities to create an equitable workplace. It is transparent about its understanding of diversity inclusion and where efforts are still lacking. The acknowledgement of its weaknesses reflects well within its community and can therefore be perceived as a strength.

  1. Establishing the Employer Value Proposition

In the same HBR article, the author specified the importance of a well-established employer value proposition (EVP) to a positive employer brand. An EVP articulates the expectations for performance and how employers compensate for well-performing employees. Having a clearly established EVP allows organisations to build a strong reputation in the talent marketplace. Moreover, the rewards should be proportionate to the expectations in order to ensure the fairness of the EVP. Most importantly, failure to deliver on the promises will damage the employer brand as well as lose faithful employees.

Our final thoughts

There are other opportunities for organisations to improve and strengthen their employer brand image. But we recommend you start by understanding the type of candidates you wish to recruit and make sure their application process is as smooth as possible. It is also vital to provide concrete plans and implement actions commensurate with your company’s reputation, which can be career-driven, culture-focused, or social commitments. Moreover, it is a plus to establish an attractive EVP and follow through on those promises.

Building an employer brand strong enough to be a key talent acquisition strategy does not happen overnight. It requires broad research, time, and creativity to stand out from the competition. But it is never too late to start building your employer brand. Even executing just one of the aforementioned strategies can make a big difference for your company.

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