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Why CEO’s Need to Make Employer Branding a Priority
Attracting and retaining top talent is one of the main challenges facing growing companies and lack of talent often limits growth. As the Irish economy nears full employment with talent shortages prevalent across most industries and sectors, there is growing concern among CEO’s in relation to finding and keeping the best talent to achieve their growth ambitions. PwC’s annual CEO survey has found year after year that CEOs worry about talent gaps and the affect it has on their organisations’ competitiveness.
More recently, there is also a major shift in priorities for organisations. We are seeing a shift in focus whereby it is no longer just solely revenue and the public image of the brand, but on the internal perception of the company by current employees and prospective candidates.
So how can companies compete effectively in this new war for talent? First and foremost, it’s time for leaders to pay attention to strengthening their organisations’ employer brand.
What is employer branding?
The term “employer brand” was first coined in the mid-1990s: it denoted an organisation’s reputation as an employer, as opposed to its more general corporate brand reputation. Your employer brand is your company’s identity, it’s your unique stamp. It’s everything that makes you different, everything that makes you stand out. The process of building a strong employer brand first became a major focus of activity between 2004 and 2008, in response to the growing competition for talent. This led to the development of an Employee Value Proposition, which defined the key benefits offered by the company as an employer, and the production of employer brand guidelines, which aimed to bring greater consistency to the company’s recruitment advertising.
So, who owns Employer Branding?
Sitting between the traditional HR and/or marketing function, the Employer Branding function, takes on the task of positioning the company as a great place to work and attracting potential hires. This function should act as the link between both HR and marketing and work together linking the skills and capabilities that each team deliver to optimise the employer brand. That said, there is a growing understanding among leadership that it is also a function that should be a focal point for CEO’s.
In a survey of CEO’s conducted in Universum’s “2020 Outlook, the Future of Employer Branding.” One of the main findings was that many leaders now place primary responsibility for the employer brand with the CEO or marketing function, rather than with recruiters and HR. In fact, 60% of the CEOs surveyed said this responsibility lies with the CEO (40% of marketing leaders agreed) — which is a strong indication that employer branding is gaining greater strategic importance year over year.
It’s on the CEO
Employer Branding really is the domain of the entire company, but with the CEO acting as custodian. The whole organisation (from Sales to Marketing and Finance) has to take equal responsibility in assisting building the Employer Brand so it can reach employees across all functions, current and prospective, effectively. So, why does it matter?
The statistics speak for themselves:
- When making a decision on where to apply for a job, 75% of job seekers consider an employers brand before even applying for a job (Source, Linkedin.)
- 52% of candidates first seek out 1) the company’s sites and 2) social media to learn more about an employer. (Source Linkedin.)
- Impacts of a great employer brand include 28% reduction in turnover, 50% reduction in cost-per-hire, 50% more qualified applicants, ¼ to ½ as long to hire. (Source, LinkedIn.)
- 84% of employees would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. 69% would reject job offers from brands with poor employer branding – even if they were unemployed. (Source: Glassdoor)
Putting it all together
With clear signs that the competition for talent is becoming more challenging, many organisations are duly turning their attention to strengthening their employer brands. Based on these insights, we believe these steps will help leaders attract and retain the talent they need to:
- Evaluate your current employer brand awareness and reputation, through survey research among your key external target audiences
- Define how you’d like to be seen as an employer based on a realistic assessment of your strengths, and translate this into a clear and compelling Employee Value Proposition
- Ensure that every function (from Sales, to Finance HR and Marketing) within the organisation understands the value of a strong employer brand to the success of the business and the role they all play in sustaining a consistent brand experience and reputation.
- Be proactive in using social media to share inside stories that highlight your strengths and build a more authentic and engaging employer brand reputation.
Given our new world of social transparency, organisations can no longer afford to rely on recruitment advertising to build a positive employer brand image. With employee advocacy growing more important, employer reputations will ultimately depend on the consistent values and vitality of their organisational cultures. And whether its HR or marketing that takes the lead in communicating the employer brand, a growing number of firms are starting to realise that accountability for the employer brand experience must ultimately fall on the shoulders of the CEO.
Choose a recruitment agency who understands your brand
After all your hard work on your employer brand, the last thing you need is to work with a recruitment agency that doesn’t do it justice by, for example, simply blasting your job descriptions out to job boards with no consideration to your core message and values. Your employer brand needs to be evident from the very first interaction with potential candidates, so when you choose a recruitment partner, it’s important to choose a firm that appreciates the importance of employer branding and takes the time to understand yours.
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