What’s the one thing that can deliver a huge competitive advantage for you?

What’s the one thing that can deliver a huge competitive advantage for you?
What’s the one thing that can deliver a huge competitive advantage for you?

It’s something that you already have in your organisation – your employees.  Attracting, recruiting and developing the very best talent is the most important thing you can do for the continued growth and success of your company.

But what if you are finding it hard to attract the people you need? Is it the skills gap that is to blame? Well, possibly, but more likely it is your employer branding that is causing part of the problem.

A recent report by PWC shows that in 2019, the availability of skills is the top business concern for UK business leaders, at 79%, and that organisations must work harder to identify, nurture and retain the right skills.

Whether you like it or not, your company has a reputation. Put simply, having an effective employer brand is about taking control of and managing that reputation.

Why is your employer brand important?

Employer branding has one objective – to promote your organisation as the employer of choice to a target audience. With so many recruitment tools available, it’s tempting for businesses not to treat employer branding as a priority. 

But research conducted by Betterteam says that companies with a positive employer brand get double the applications of other companies who are not as well positioned. Other studies suggest that a positive employer brand can cut your cost per hire by 50%. 

So, it’s time to get focused on your employer brand, making sure it is reflecting your attributes as an employer effectively.

Defining your employer brand

Your employer brand is determined by everything an applicant has read, heard, or experienced about your organisation, and the perception that those experiences have formed in their minds.

The first step in defining your brand is to do your research. What does your current reputation say about you to potential employees? What type of person do you need to attract? What are their interests and motivations?

A good starting point is, of course, your current employers – particularly those who are the type of person you’d like to have more of. But you also need to look externally, as regulation of the messages sent about your company is to some degree, out of your control. The Betterteam report shows that 70% of people trust what they read on social media about organisations.

So, consider applicant surveys, social media searches, reputation monitoring organisations and other external sources of information.

By thoroughly researching these areas, you can develop your employer value proposition (EVP). Your EVP is a keystone of your employer brand. It embraces everything you are doing to attract and keep staff. 

Of course, it has to include pay, benefits, rewards and other perks. But more than that, it’s about the intangibles. It needs to address how staff are motivated and challenged, what the culture of the company is, the opportunities for progression. And of course, it has to be tied directly to what you know about your target candidates.

You need to demonstrate that your organisation is an environment in which potential candidates can thrive, and that caters to their motivations.

Use the tools that you already have

Your current staff is one of the best tools in helping you build a strong employer brand. Here are a few ideas on how to maximise their impact:

  1. Develop a set of core values that encapsulate the experience of working for you and build these into everyday interactions with staff, and into your recruitment programme. 
  2. Encourage employees to have professional, positive profiles on business social media sites.
  3. Introduce an incentive scheme for employees who introduce new members of staff to you.
  4. Constantly look for ways to develop, train and engage your current workforce.
  5. Ensure your onboarding process is superb. The impression of an organisation will be cemented in the first three months in a job – make sure it’s a positive one.

Deliver on your brand

Finally, you can do all the work and research in the world but if you don’t deliver on it, it will all be for nothing. This can’t be a paper exercise; it has to be a plan that is implemented. If you develop a great employer brand that attracts top talent, you have to deliver the experience you promised. Do that, and you have a good chance of turning your new recruits into loyal, engaged and valued members of staff.

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