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Recovery Playbook

your talent challenges have changed

2020 has forced every business to rethink Talent. Talencity’s Talent Recovery Playbook is a resource guide to you in pivoting, shifting or re-inventing your talent strategy.

Each week for 12-weeks, a new resource will be launched.

Employer Talent Brand

Employer branding allows you to focus your energies into attracting and retaining the talent that will adopt and advocate for your company, much like product branding on attracting consumers.

Employer branding is certainly not a new concept; however, it has become an increasingly important – if not vital – component of the recruiting and retention strategy for the modern employer. As candidates become much savvier in how they search for positions and who they ultimately choose to work for, how an employer is positioned within the talent market will decide not just the volume of potential hires, but the quality of applicant as well.

What exactly is Employer Branding?

Simply put, employer branding is not what you “will” it to be. It is a combination of forces working together that define who you are as an employer. It is the authentic representation of your overall candidate and employee experience, and the employee value proposition (EVP) you offer as an employer. That doesn’t mean you can’t develop a strategy to influence how you are viewed as an organization, it just means understanding who you are and where you want to go.

Ultimately, employer branding seeks to satisfy two primary ideas:

  • communicate to potential employees promoting the idea that the organization is an attractive place to work (talent attraction)
  • communicate to existing employees promoting the idea that they work for an attractive employer (retention)

The key to getting these messages right is to ensure authenticity is rooted in actual candidate and employee experiences and not what we wish them to be.

All too often we see job postings which cleverly review all the “stuff” the organization has in terms of ping pong tables, employee BBQs, staff appreciation days, and the like. While these attributes may on the surface seem great, it is what lies beneath that will resonate with the candidates of today. We affectionately refer to these things as “window dressing” or “bling”. In and of themselves, they are not enough. Employees may like the “bling”, but they won’t stay for “bling” alone.

Getting Real About Your Employer Brand

Whether we like it or not, whether we have invested in our branding strategy or not, every company has a reputation as an employer. How people think, what they say, and how they experience applying to and working for a company will become the employer brand. Sometimes, we can influence how we are seen in the employee market, but very rarely can we fully control it.

One fatal mistake employers make is overstating and under-delivering. The message they put out there is one that they think candidates want, or how they think the employee experience is, versus how it is. They are not clear in their EVP or they have not properly captured it within the recruiting process and strategy.

As we stated, today’s candidates are savvy in how they choose their next employer. Candidates do their research and seek out social media platforms as well as websites such as Indeed and Glassdoor to provide feedback on candidate/employee experiences. These have quickly become part of the candidate’s selection process in determining if they will apply to you or not. To underestimate this is a big mistake which is why we need to focus on authentic messaging.

How can you get real?

  • Audit your current recruiting process from application to onboarding. How do candidates interact with your company? Cumbersome application processes within your Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? Communication style (if any) with candidates not chosen to move forward at all stages of the recruit (automated vs personal contact)?

  • Review recruiting metrics to include not just time to hire, but the quality of talent applying. You may have volume, but volume alone will not tell you if you are hitting the mark. If you cannot attract the right level of talent, that is an indicator something is wrong.

  • Look at your existing EVP (Employee Value Proposition). Do you have one? If you do, when was the last time you reviewed it for accuracy? Is it resonating with your existing employees? Is it being properly captured in your recruiting marketing material?

  • Retention of your current employee compliment. Whether you have high turnover or relatively low turnover, what are the motivating factors precipitating the decision to leave your organization? If you are not collecting this data, you are missing important information on the alignment of employee experiences and EVP.

  • Regular and meaningful communication and feedback from your employees is integral in ensuring you are living your branding as an attractive employer to work for. Not just collecting this information, but actively seeking improvement.

How to Outline Your Employer Brand

As we stated, having complete control over your employer brand is hard to do. But there are things you can do right now to positively impact the right messaging:

Develop a career page on your website that highlights your EVP. Include employee testimonials (we love videos whenever possible to highlight employee experience!) to showcase relatability to your EVP and overall employee experience. Please keep in mind that your career page should always be up to date! Remove old job postings to keep the information fresh and in real-time.

Your career page should include a FAQ section! Answer questions that are consistently asked such as location, benefits info, wage expectations, public transportation, or parking availability, how you calculate raises, and where your staff typically eats (lunchroom or are there some restaurants nearby?). Then do one step more and allow for people to submit questions directly to you to further that list of FAQs.

Make sure your application process matches who you are as an employer. For example, if you are a company that prides itself on quality control and speed of processing, matching this in your recruitment process will further cement your message.

On that note, ensure the ability to apply to the job role is user friendly. Cumbersome, clunky, information collection overload will frustrate candidates and top talent may not spend hours trying to navigate an overly complex application. We love ATS systems, but only when they enhance the candidate experience not deter from it.

Utilize social media, including your career website, to provide relevant content and awareness of who you are as an employer. Interaction with potential candidates is key in the new recruiting horizon. For example, do you have a social responsibility mandate? Highlight how you support this in your community. Social media also allows for your current employees (your brand ambassadors) to reinforce your messaging. Never underestimate the power and value of what your employees can add in terms of content.

Always treat your employer brand as an active and dynamic piece of your recruiting and retention strategies. Regular review of how and what you are doing will ensure consistency in messaging. Having a “one and done” philosophy can quickly turn negative. As we say, putting recruiting and retention on a shelf to only be dusted off and reviewed when you have a problem is too late.

Employer Branding in the time of COVID-19

Many companies have been thrown into the spotlight through their employer branding throughout the pandemic. Consider the impact Loblaws had on their employer branding and company branding when they announced they are paying a “pandemic premium” for their employees? HUGE positive impact. This created the surge in applicants they needed to get them through the new level of service needed for online purchase and pick up.

Announcing what you are doing to assist your employees and future employees to navigate these trepid waters in the time of COVID-19 could be the difference between receiving a quality application or not.

Are you considered an essential business? Did your company continue and not stop throughout the shelter in place order? This is part of who you are, part of your brand, and you need to use this. This is what applicants are seeking the most during a time of crisis – stability. If you can offer it to them, say it.

When advertising for a new job opportunity in the time of COVID-19, you can showcase your internal operations in response to today’s realities. Make note of additional PPE, procedures, and accommodations that your company has done to protect employees.

Employer Branding is the “hype” that is created about a company’s work environment. So, consider what your employees are saying about working there, really listen to them, because not only are these your employees but they are your brand ambassadors.

When we look for the elusive “fit” in our company, our employer branding can not only draw out that person but also build that individual from within.

Employer branding should complement your company branding.

This is the “putting your money where your mouth is” aspect. Because a company’s employer brand is real and alive and happening whether you have decided to participate in this or not.

For example, if you are a coffee shop and your brand is all about speed, it should go without saying that your employer branding should reflect this. Recruit with a timeline, be speedy with annual reviews, have a distinct process for how you train. All these aspects are areas that can strengthen your employer branding, which will compliment your company brand as a whole.