How to attract top talent by strengthening your employer brand

Make sure recruitment doesn't become a bottleneck.

happy employees

Let’s face it, most employers don’t have a strong employer brand, mainly because it’s never been a consideration/priority.

Growing firms tend to put all their efforts into generating sales, and delivering on those sales. If successful, other business functions will be added on to sustain the growth, including marketing. And the marketing and brand work they invest in tends to be solely focused on generating more sales, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, not considering your employer brand may well prove to be a factor that holds back growth.

A company’s main asset and means of production is usually its employees, and to grow you need to find a steady stream of skilled employees to sustain that growth. In a jobs market that’s experiencing a skills shortage, like the construction industry for example, the best employees can usually choose who they want to work for, meaning that they will most often side with the organisations that offer them what they want.

In the past, the main elements that a company used to attract employees were typically the salary, a benefits package and career prospects. Today, younger employees are driven by different reasons. According to research (PWC, Randstad), millennials are looking for flexibility in the work they do and the hours they keep, they want the opportunity to work with talented people and the chance to do meaningful work. The only driver that remained the same was the remuneration, which is still a key consideration.

Another aspect of work that millennials are looking for is culturally driven: they want their coworkers to be their second family. As the borders between work and play are increasingly blurred, to actually enjoy spending time with your colleagues, and they seem to have no time for a job where they don’t fit in. Millennials have three times as many job changes compared to baby-boomers, and the rate of change is increasing.

The take-away from all of this is that you have to make working for you as attractive as possible, which in turn means that you have to:

  • Figure out what prospective employees actually want in a job and what drives their choice of employer.
  • Align your organisation with your findings in the previous point.

As you can imagine, doing the research to find out the needs and wants of prospective employees is hard, and making concrete changes to attract these candidates potentially even harder.

Luckily, there are some quick wins, hacks and shortcuts that can be employed to address some of the issues employers with a weak brand have in attracting the best talent.

1. Invest in your visual identity, both on and off line.

This is a no brainer, and whilst it won’t be free to do, it’s likely to drive business sales just as much as it will drive candidate interest in the company (along with other things). Think of it in terms of how the design of a product drives interest and ‘want’, and influences perception: if your organisation presents itself as a ‘modern, dynamic organisation that is going somewhere and cares about how it presents itself’, then candidates will take an interest.

2. Make sure your website is responsive/mobile optimised.

We’ve established that it’s important to look right, but it’s equally important to be seen to actively invest in other areas, and there is nothing in an organisation that has more signal value than its website experience. More than 50% of all data is consumed on a mobile device, and when you consider that the most popular time to search for a job is on a Monday between 11 am and 2 pm, it’s not unlikely that that figure is even higher when it comes to job seekers.

3. Make sure your company’s social media profiles look good and are active.

According to some, this is one of the quickest and most effective ways of increasing your employer brand equity. Make sure they are consistent in look and feel, and that they reflect your over-all brand. Then pay some attention to the content – does it reflect your brand? Is it interesting? Even if most of it may have been conceived to drive sales, if it’s relevant, interesting and helpful, chances are that you’re also going to attract quality candidates.

4. Define a company elevator pitch, get everyone to learn it.

The first thing people as other people, regardless if it’s in a social setting or a work setting, is ‘What do you do?’. And from that moment, it’s likely that that initial question turns into a conversation about your company and their work there. This moment is an excellent opportunity for that person to communicate the employer brand, and help strengthening it. But don’t rely on the employees to ‘freestyle it’ – give them the proper tools to become your ‘employer brand ambassadors’.

5. Promote the stories of your top employees.

One of the key drivers for people to both take a job and to remain in that job is the opportunity to work with great people, and great managers. If you have great people working in your organisation, find a way for their stories to be told and shared, and you will find that candidates will want to experience the same thing, with those people. It’s simple psychology, really.

6. Encourage employees to develop their own audience through thought leadership opportunities.

This could be speaking opportunities, blogging or guest posts/articles in industry press. In many ways, the employer brand is built on the individual brands of your employees, so rather than looking at these non-core activities as something to clamp down on, the thought is that the benefits outweigh the downside.

7. Focus on retaining current employees.

To replace an employee costs in the region of £30,000, and that’s reason enough to try to minimise people leaving, but there’s a case for being wary of what lurks under the surface too. To have a turnover of staff is healthy, but when those numbers get a little high, it’s often a sign that something is ‘off’ in the organisation. It could a range of things, and I won’t cover them here, but suffice to say that disgruntled employees can do real damage to your employer brand.

8. Treat every candidate as you would a customer.

Whilst you won’t want to hire every candidate you interview, it’s important to remember that every candidate is a potential influencer to their own network. A bad experience can possibly harm you, an average experience leave them indifferent, but a great experience helps building your employer brand.

9. Keep your employees happy.

Perhaps most importantly, keeping employees happy is critical to building and maintaining a strong employee brand. There are of course many ways of doing this, such as aligning what’s on offer with their expectations, but it’s equally important to be tuned into what goes on in the organisation and to identify sources of disgruntlement and dissatisfaction. It may be a cliche, but to have a dialogue with your staff, being transparent, and acting with integrity, will go a long way.

 As always, if you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know via email – we would love to hear your feedback.

// The Programme Recruitment team.