Employer Branding – Building a Sustainable Workforce

Over the last five years, the concept of Employer Branding has gained traction as a necessary requirement for the attraction, engagement and retention of talented employees.
By: The Right Group
Aug. 12, 2009 - PRLog -- Over the last five years, the concept of Employer Branding has gained traction as a necessary requirement for the attraction, engagement and retention of talented employees. Although the current environment is overshadowed by the realities of the global downtown, public and private organisations must look beyond this to address longer term issues that will affect the sustainability of their workforce in the future.

With an aging population exiting the workforce and taking with it a breadth of skills and years of experience, a skills shortage is an inevitable reality. In addition, less people are also entering the workforce than those retiring which is compounding this future talent issue.

A common trap for many organisations, public or private, is to associate employer branding with recruitment marketing. This is only part of the process for building a competitive and sustainable employer brand. The primary issue is that many organisations fail to link their external employer brand communication messages with their internal employment experience, rendering their employer brand ‘inauthentic’.
So what is an employer brand?

An employer brand is a collection of ideas and beliefs that influence the way current and potential employees view an organisation and the employment experience that the organisation is offering. In its true sense, employer branding is about the packaging of the functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment with an organisation. How these benefits are packaged and the reality of the ‘employment experience’ then determines the organisation’s employer branding positioning and competitive advantage.
What are the benefits of employer branding?

For most organisations the key benefits of employer branding are:

   * Lower overhead costs
     – increased candidate attraction and lower recruitment costs
     – reduced turnover and replacement costs
     – reduced absenteeism or sick leave
   * Improved employee engagement and commitment
     – engaged employees that are more productive
     – employees that are strong advocates for the organisation
     – higher return on talent investment
   * Improved customer and stakeholder satisfaction
   * Improved internal communication and synchronicity between Human Resources, Marketing and Internal Communications.

In today’s business climate, employer branding is no longer a short term project initiated by HR to aid attraction and recruitment; it is now a way of life for successful organisations.
The basics of employer branding theory

The role of employer branding is to provide a coherent framework and focus the priorities of an organisation’s people strategy.

A key component of employer branding is the development of an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that communicates the central value message conveyed by the brand. The brand process builds an identifiable, unique employer identity and a value concept of the organisation that differentiates it from competitors. A strong employer brand is employment specific but reflects the essence of the organisation’s brand. It is a powerful tool for attracting, engaging and retaining the right ‘talent’ necessary for building a sustainable organisation.
Successful employer brands

Companies like Google, Southwest Airlines, Microsoft, SEEK and Woolworths invest considerably in their employer brands and reap the benefits. What separates these organisations is their ability to deliver on stated promises by aligning internal ‘touchpoints’ with their brand.

For example, Southwest Airlines’ brand promise ‘symbol of freedom’ is fully internalised. At the core of their EVP is the theme ‘freedom begins with me’ which is underpinned by two key behaviours - empowerment and accountability. The organisation takes a whole systems approach to communicating its EVP ranging from people processes and organisational systems, to performance management and rewards. As a result, Southwest Airlines is one of the world’s top performing airlines and is continually voted as one of the best companies to work for in the US.

Even the public sector has some outstanding examples - the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare won the 2008 “Best Companies to work for” award through creating a positive brand experience for their employees. See how they have brought this to life in their video “Life at the AIHW“.
The employer brand acid test

Gauge the health of your employer brand by answering these quick questions:

   * Are you aware of the main factors driving employee engagement and commitment in your organisation?
   * Have you clearly defined your unique ‘employment experience’ – the value proposition that your organisation offers to candidates and employees?
   * Do your employees have a strong understanding of the organisation’s purpose and values?
   * Are you aware of what kind of employees your organisation needs now and in the future?
   * Is your employee turnover rate high relative to other organisations in your industry?
   * Do you have high levels of absenteeism or sick leave?
   * Do your employees speak highly of your organisation? How do you know this?
   * Would your employees recommend your organisation as a great place to work?
   * How willing are your employees to go the extra mile to get a job done?
   * Are you aware of all of your ‘organisational touchpoints’ that communicate your employer brand?

If you answered no and/or unsure to any of the above questions then you have work to do on creating a compelling employer brand!

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Brand management and market research experts – The Right Group. Services include brand strategy & identity, marketing strategies, corporate branding & management training. We especially focus on the alignment between brand strategy and business strategy.

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