In the recruitment world right now the candidates hold all the cards. There aren’t enough of them in the market to fill all the vacancies out there, so employers need to think carefully about why a candidate might want to come and work for them. They need to sell not only the role but the company as a whole.
This is where their employer brand comes in.
Employer brand is all about how those outside of a company perceive the employee experience and culture at an organisation. Improving your employer brand can lead to 50% more qualified applicants, a reduction in turnover and a more successful recruitment process*. It can also significantly reduce your cost per hire.
So what can a company do to strengthen its employer brand and ensure it’s as attractive as possible to potential candidates?
Think outside the box when it comes to your benefits offering, and don’t neglect your culture
Whilst salary should be competitive as standard, nowadays it’s not always the main deciding factor for a candidate, who will look at the overall package as well as the culture of an organisation. People will walk away from large salaries if the culture’s not right for them, so don’t underestimate this.
With this being said though, your compensation and benefits package is a pretty fundamental factor when it comes to hiring, and if it’s not up to scratch many candidates will instantly rule you out. Consider whether yours is going to be attractive to today’s candidates. Ideally you want to be known for offering competitive rates of pay, a strong benefits package and – very importantly – flexibility to your people (more on this below).
A 2019 survey found that 69% of people would choose one job over another if it offered better benefits. Additionally, the survey found that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer because of their employee benefits package. These days, things such as health insurance have become quite standard, so think about what you can offer over and above this.
Flexibility is a broad term, but ultimately you want potential candidates to know that you trust your employees to get the job done regardless of where and when they’re doing it. So for example think remote and hybrid working, compressed working hours, part-time working patterns, and an environment where people aren’t necessarily expected to be at their desks from 9 until 5. Acknowledge the importance of people’s family and life commitments and actively encourage a good work-life balance.
Have a strong corporate brand
Although you probably consider your corporate brand to be geared towards winning and retaining clients, it’s an equally important tool for attracting candidates into the business. Make sure it’s as slick and impressive as it can be, and keep it consistent. So think brand identity, website, the people who answer your phones, and generally just the way you present yourself publicly.
Don’t forget your Corporate Social Responsibility
Many of today’s candidates are interested to know what an organisation does for others and for the planet, so ensure CSR is part of your employer brand by publishing details of what you’re doing. For instance – is your organisation committed to sustainability and Net Zero? Does it have a chosen charity it supports? Do you give staff paid time off to volunteer? Do you help out in your local community? These are all great things which will resonate with many candidates.
Demonstrate your commitment to D&I
Many candidates will look favourably upon employers who are truly committed to equal opportunities and employ a diverse team of individuals. After all, the UK is a multicultural, multi-abled and neurodiverse place. People want to know that ‘people like them’ can be accepted and enabled to thrive in your organisation. They want to find a place where they feel they belong and feel safe. Consider putting your leaders through psychological safety training.
Redefine your values
Things have changed in recent years, and accordingly, so have people’s priorities. It might be worthwhile taking a look at your values and making sure these are still fit for purpose and relevant in a post-pandemic world. You should involve your team in this process for added authenticity. Once you have them nailed down, imbed them and live by them, from the top down. Your values shouldn’t be something bolted onto the end of your staff handbook as an afterthought – they should spell out what you stand for and underpin everything you do.
And finally… harness the immense power of social media
Make sure you are consistently posting about your culture, internal initiatives and people on your official social media channels. A recent study found that 73% of millennials found their last role on social media, so this should be a major tool in your candidate marketing strategy.
Be clear about what you stand for and what your values are, and ensure these values are lived daily.
It goes without saying though that before you start telling the outside world about all this good stuff you need to make sure it’s communicated clearly internally too, otherwise you’re talking the talk without walking the walk, and your team won’t like it.
And what’s even more powerful than just the official accounts posting all about the company culture is when employees post about their own personal experiences. Potential candidates are likely to trust employees more than the company itself to speak honestly about their experience of working there. This is called employee advocacy and through your internal communications you should encourage this among your team. Encourage them to interact with your company in a way that is visible to their networks (ie. like, comment, share) – LinkedIn is particularly powerful for this.
Your employees can be organic storytellers for your company — they can share recent successes, stories of team comradery, or even photos with co-workers from company events or meetings.
Doing this will give future candidates a fuller picture of your organisation and an inside look at your culture.
So there’s certainly lots to think about when honing your employer brand, but if there’s one piece of advice I would give it would be to focus on your culture and don’t forget it forms part of your employer brand. If you truly care about this and work at it, lots of the other good things will follow and you’ll create something that people want to be part of.
This article was written by Lesley Redley, Senior Marketing Executive at Hunter Adams.