Employer Branding Ideas
London, UK
Employer Branding Ideas
London, UK
Why Employer Branding Matters for Start-ups
Written by: Jörgen Sundberg

scale up brand

When you are busy building your business, growing fast and dealing with all the ramifications of expansion it can be hard to find time to think about HR and recruitment processes. Branding is crucial for the successful establishment of a new company, in customer acquisition, retention and the creation of a favourable reputation.

If your new business is scaling up quickly you need to anticipate the demands growth will make on founders and their resources. Entrepreneurs typically spend up to 40% of their day on non-revenue related activities.

The problem is that sourcing talent is a big issue for small organisations. After all a small, new organisation is competing against big names, the brand names and cool companies, and can’t rely on visibility and word of mouth recruitment. In order to attract top quality candidates it’s important to build a strong employer brand and robust employee value proposition. A favourable employer brand image positively influences applicant attraction (Backhaus & Tikoo 2004; Ployhart 2006).

According to LinkedIn’s Winning Talent report from 2015, 53 per cent of UK workers would not be tempted by role with a high salary if the company offering it had a poor employer brand. It pays to use social media, such as networking sites, blogs, wikis, chatrooms, video sites to build a positive presence online to target and attract potential employees. Marketing the employer brand via social networks effectively communicates your unique features and employer values affords opportunities to identify and directly target individuals matching your required profile.

Values and versatility

If you don’t have a dedicated HR team and are relying on hiring managers to fill vacancies then being able to demonstrate an attractive organisational culture and employee experience helps. This isn’t about benefits and job titles but puts what workers care about and value at the centre of your culture; bolstered by a leadership style that is collaborative and versatile with a focus on collective knowledge sharing and accountability.

Your overall brand offering and employer brand should be coherent, you need a good ‘sales pitch’ when you are talking to candidates. Small organisations have a great advantage over the big players in that they can usually be rather more agile in moving the interview process forward. Having gone to the expense of finding and hiring them the smart organisation aims to build employee engagement by communicating what the organisation stands for.

The small organisation needs to build collaborative teams and is likely to be well placed to deliver the regular feedback that younger workers value. In 2015 The Guardian suggested that “there is an intrinsic culture fit between young graduates and entrepreneurial companies”. Flatter corporate structure and hands-on management should mean leadership finds it relatively simple to stay in touch with employees, thereby fostering good working relationships and offering enhanced levels of responsibility and flexibility.

Assess your employer branding

  • Develop a hiring plan that aligns with business strategy
  • Ensure staffing structure and technology are right for the next stage of growth
  • Evaluate the competitive landscape
  • Evaluate current talent capability
  • Ensure lines of accountability and responsibility, job descriptions and KPIs align with business strategy
  • Assess whether you have the right blend of high potential staff for the future and key performers for present purposes

It is all too easy to acquire a poor reputation so it is worth making some effort to build the right image from the beginning. A collective vision as the organisation begins to grow is what engenders a robust corporate culture. Candidates need to recognise that vision and buy into it, so that those values become part of the warp and weft of organisational life.

Leaders in small businesses need to be aware of the potential value of employer branding for enhancing the prospect of attracting high quality job seekers, and should try to identify the unique attributes their start-up can offer to prospective employees.

A final word – don’t be afraid to be flexible with regards to recruitment, when the business is growing so needs and requirements change quickly. Employees in a start-up may shoulder a broad range of tasks and responsibilities, often with few clear boundaries regarding their roles. Hire for diversity, varied skillsets and the adaptability that will position you for future growth; cultural fit and personality are more important than experience when you need creativity and innovative thinking.