An IT professional once told me that a certain organization (say, company A) is good for beginners as they provide a rigorous initial training whereas another organization (say, company B) is good for professionals with two or thress years of experience as they provide good growth opportunities for experienced professionals. Curious to verify this, over the next year, I asked many IT professionals their views on these two organizations. To my utter surprise, they all not only carried the same impression, but many had actually taken crucial career decisions based on this perception. If the employer branding publicity of neither of these companies talks about this aspect, then how did such a strong perception come to be?
Since its inception in the 1990s, the concept of employer branding has gained momentum, reaching an all time high in last two years. But while many organizations have taken to building a distinctive employer brand, only a few have succeeded in creating that illusive lure. Here is a quick guide to building an employer brand (if there ever can be such a thing!) that is not just skin deep.
No employer branding initiative can ever succeed without being closely integrated with the greater organizational values, missions, and strategies. Employer branding initiatives are usually taken up to attract the talent pool and hence become an initiative driven by the Talent Acquisition group. However this short sighted approach does more harm than good. Organizations need to understand why they need to undertake an employer branding initiatives, define what results are expected from the initiative and how these results help in furthering the overall goals of the organization in short and long term.
Top-down, focused, and collaborative effort:
Employer branding, being a part of the overall organizational strategy, needs to be a thought that has strong leadership buy in. Organizations should also build an “employer branding” task force which would be accountable for the overall brand building exercise. This team should have representatives from all internal stakeholders like talent acquisition, talent engagement, line managers, corporate strategy and corporate communication groups. The team would be responsible for ensuring synergy among all branding initiative and removing road blocks in implementation.
Articulate brand attributes:
Once the basic thought and mechanism is in place, it would be important to articulate “what” exactly the brand should represent. The brand attributes should be thoughtfully decided through series of brainstorming sessions and focus groups. It might also be a good idea to reach out to existing employees and understand how they perceive the organization. Building on the strengths identified thereby would provide a more realistic and sustainable base to work with than creating a brand image totally from the scratch.
Existing employees - brand ambassadors:
While organizations have huge budgets for ads and publicity campaigns, the strongest influencers of the brand image- existing employees- get overlooked. Anyone who has come across an employee speaking passionately about his/her current/ex- organization would easily relate to my point here. The reverse also holds equally true. Word-of-mouth has always been a strong influence, but the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and GenY’s addiction to social media has changed the rules of the game altogether.
Although everything in the talent management and engagement domain influences the employer brand image, it would be a much more systematic approach to define processes, policies and employee interaction points that directly correlate to the brand attributes. The performance on these areas can be monitored by the employer branding taskforce and/or be integrated into the performance reporting metrics of respective stakeholders.
Awareness among internal stakeholders:
Line managers, HR teams, and other support groups directly affect the employer brand image as they interact regularly with employees. It is extremely important that each member of these groups understands the employer brand values of the organizations and is conscious of the impact of his/her actions on the same.
Measuring brand equity:
As they say – “what gets measured is what gets done”. Measuring brand equity for an employer brand is difficult. However increase in retention rates, applications received for job openings from desired talent groups, internal employee engagement survey scores, employee referrals and ex-employees willing to join back could all be an indicator of increasing brand equity.
Building a strong employer brand is a complex and continuous process that needs concentrated efforts. Only those organizations that build their employer brands around their DNA with a well planned and structured approach ultimately succeed.
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