A successful employer brand reaches beyond the boardroom to establish confidence, loyalty, and enthusiasm throughout the whole organisation. We advocate a strategic approach to managing the employer brand by devising relevant metrics to monitor progress and evaluate the impact of branding efforts in terms of tangible factors around recruitment and retention and intangibles such as culture, values, and engagement.
In essence, we think it is crucial to use robust metrics as to the impact the brand has and the value it adds to the enterprise. The CIPD point up two key metrics:
- How much you spend on recruitment consultants,
- The proportion of candidates who fade away during the application process – particularly those who, after several interviews and having shown enthusiasm, then decline your offer of a job.
Measure what matters
Avoid vanity metrics and concentrate on the branding objectives that will make a real difference:
- Who do you want to reach, what is your target audience?
- Are you aiming to reach your existing demographic, or to reach out to a different demographic?
- Do you need to increase brand awareness and positive perception of the brand?
- Do you want to drive more traffic to your recruitment site and target talent?
It’s obvious that you need to consider a wide range of factors including vacancies, staff turnover, and quality of applicants alongside staff surveys/exit questionnaires and information from induction feedback. The aim is to improve the quality and quantity of applications, harnessing a respected brand when placing advertisements but also to retain staff on the basis that the organisation delivers the expectations of employees. Think in terms of marketing, an employer branding strategy needs a big picture perspective around how the organisation attracts, engages, and retains talent.
Tara Murphy of Cornell cites the example of Rolls-Royce – who track the kinds of people who are applying and whether they are creating a more diverse workforce. Their strategy takes into account that however famous the name, you can’t trade on it indefinitely but an active brand showcases the changes and innovations that are going on inside the business. Building a talent pipeline is key for Rolls-Royce and so employer branding activity is closely linked with employee engagement.
Look at the bigger picture
Employer brand is more than the product or service and more than HR strategy. Think big. Starbucks, for instance, are not just about coffee – “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.” That bold statement is reflected in their values and is common to the approach of other great employment brands such as Apple, Disney, John Lewis and Virgin.
When you think about the organisations that don’t nurture the human spirit, say some budget airlines and sportswear retailers you see the value of the big picture approach. Employment brand image is not just about recruitment, what employees say about the organisation resonates with customers, suppliers, investors and the press. It’s easier to lose traction than to build a great employer brand.
One our favourites is L’Oréal, which uses a global careers website to outline the characteristics the brand seeks in ideal candidates and shows them what an environment that will inspire looks like; this is aligned with a mission statement is a model of a clarity. The company listened to its employees and let them decide what’s great about working for L’Oréal, which means the employer brand is based on healthy discourse involving all stakeholders, and it makes a real impact.
Become an employer of choice
There is no quick fix here, it takes time to build the brand, to tweak the messaging, to see hoped-for improvements. Analysis by LinkedIn found that employer brand has a significant impact on the ability to hire talent and also has broader company benefits; it lowers cost-per-hire by up to 50%, reduced staff turnover by up to 28% and is twice as likely to drive job consideration as the company brand. Building a great employment brand is a commitment, integral to the business model, predicated on employees who embrace and share organisational goals and take pride in the organisation that employs them.
So, assessment and evaluation of the impact of branding initiatives needs to be data-driven, drawing on interviews and feedback, and informed by the organisation’s employees and stakeholders with reference to the culture the enterprise wants to promote. If it is good for staff it is a good investment, employees are the powerhouse driving innovation, performance and productivity. The organisation with a great employer brand and strong corporate culture attracts top talent, achieves greater employee engagement and becomes an employer of choice.
We developed The Employer Brand Index to help practitioners like yourself understand and measure your company’s reputation as an employer.