In a competitive labor market, the challenge for organizations is to differentiate themselves so as to attract and retain talented staff. The concept of branding the firm for potential and existing employees is a strategic tool for HR professionals. The terms ‘employment brand’ and ‘employer brand’ characterize the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing firm.
It’s important to devise an integrated approach to internal and external marketing for the recruitment market in terms of communications; the messages that organizations send out to potential applicants must be reinforced by employees and recruiters. You need to be vigilant in monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of employer brand initiatives. In a fast-moving and volatile environment, you need to be able to adapt quickly. Markets change and develop, so evaluating the success of branding efforts involves monitoring and analyzing data around all the effort and investment made in building the brand over time.
To monitor and measure you need to have clarity around your goals and to have developed the appropriate metrics that track progress. Choose metrics that you know you can have an impact on, but that also move the needle on overall goals. Metrics vary depending on the size of enterprise, field, and industry and one size does not fit all, it’s important to see branding as an ongoing project.
What matters is the brand’s trajectory over time. Link Humans has developed the Employer Brand Index to help companies measure their reputation as employers over time, sometimes a third party evaluation can have more gravitas than one undertaken in-house.
Key success indicators are around recruitment KPI’s – quality of hire is most significant (and difficult to measure), but other tactical indicators like the cost of hire, time to hire, cost of vacancy, number of quality applicants, may be relevant to your goals. Universum say that the top three KPIs today are all inward-facing: average retention rate (used by 46 percent), new hire quality (45 percent) and employee engagement level (45 percent).
This is what Shaunda Zilich, Global Employment Brand leader at GE told us: ”Reach, engagement, and action are the simple ones to measure. I think we have greater things to measure in sentiment analysis but also beyond that in behavior analysis of those that promote our brand (brand ambassadors – not just those we hire or even just employees). This measurement will show deeper areas of strengths and weaknesses.”
Brand and engagement
The value of something as intangible as branding can be quite subjective – we are talking about the ability to get the right people in the right place at the right time in a volatile marketplace. If you can impute some measure of engagement and advocacy and how that data compares with that of competitors, then that provides a real indicator as to how employer branding efforts are playing out. Success in building engagement with potential employees facilitates an enhanced talent pipeline which aids recruitment efforts. The best candidates want to work with and for organizations that align with their values.
A positive correlation between employer brand and employee engagement has been recognized by a number of studies. Heger conducted an empirical study which identified a relationship between a strong Employment Value Proposition (EVP), the core component of the employer brand, and respondents’ level of engagement.
Employer branding activities need to focus on more than talent attraction and retention if they are to deliver enhanced performance. A well-defined brand unites employees and creates a feeling of shared purpose and pride in the organization that is a powerful advantage in a competitive marketplace.