In recent years, the management of talent and the value of the human capital held at an organization have become priorities for HR management and the achievement of the enterprise’s goals. Failure to focus on the employee experience and employer branding may lead to a decline in competitiveness within the marketplace, with an adverse effect on levels of corporate attractiveness to potential employees.
The employer brand is the value proposition that an organization conveys to both employees and the wider labor market. Great organizations build a strong brand that attracts talent to them rather than having to invest significant time and money to sell the organization to potential applicants. It’s about promoting a better understanding of the firm and its culture, alongside a clear employer value proposition.
Employer branding is increasingly important in light of the shortage of skilled workers in the new economy which offers a challenging environment for knowledge-based organizations in particular, who must differentiate themselves in order to successfully attract talented employees. Professional services firms are acutely aware that their competitive advantage lies in their ability to attract top talent, they work hard to develop and retain the best and they keep in touch with leavers. Management consultants, in particular, leverage the unique opportunities afforded by their alumni contacts – all your leavers are potential future customers.
We talked to Steve Keith, Marketing and Communications Lead for Apprenticeships at EY, about their award-winning approach to attracting trainees, he offered three tips for employer brand managers:
- Know your audience: Never presume things, learn about your audience through research.
- Take a long-term approach: Even when you’re being pushed to deliver something, there is a lot of value in taking a step back and mapping out the stages.
- Dealing with ambiguity: Anticipating the changes that are happening in the wider world.
We also spoke to Tarek Dawas who is the Global Head of Resourcing at Allen & Overy in London which he says has a collaborative, stimulating, high-quality culture with a great appetite for innovation. They aim to build a globally relevant brand that works for them in all their markets making Allen & Overy a target for legal talent and other professionals such as tech talent and marketing specialists. Internally they spend a lot of time on the employer brand project, with a focus on indicators that they expect offices to meet, finding this approach helps them with building engagement.
Behavior, not collateral
The best employer brands are consistent across all communication channels – social media, advocacy, corporate website, and job specifications which allows them to focus the internal narrative of engaged employees and harness it to drive the narrative that attracts candidates. Potential employees need to be able to evaluate the strengths of a company as an employer. Professional service firms that are effective in achieving this are able to engage talent and build loyalty and commitment to their brand identity. Communication is key to ensuring every function in the organization sees the value and need to build a strong employer brand and how they can contribute.
Professional service firms cannot rely exclusively on reputation in the marketplace to build their employer brand image but need also to focus on the engagement of existing employees and the advocacy they promulgate across their online networks to the benefit of the brand.
Tarek Dawas was particularly keen on the value of employee advocacy. Employees are essential advocates in communicating the employer brand and it is smart for companies to encourage them to communicate using their personal networks to relay positive messages about the company and the brand. Every communication and interaction needs to live up the employer brand.