September 09, 2020Read More
“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” -- Socrates
You’ve got to hand it to Socrates; he wasn’t the rockstar CEO of some Wall Street juggernaut, yet his insights were brilliant, universally applicable and he really knew a thing or two about brand recognition. And the best way to brand? Strive to become the image you envision and promote. Work toward embodying the ideals of your brand, not just marketing your enterprise through words and images. Reputation is not only more important than ever, it’s easier to build, assess and shatter than in decades past. With the undeniable relevance and influence of social networks today, an unprecedented visibility infuses everything we do as business operators and employers.
The Internet has given everyone a voice -- a platform for praise and dissent that people take seriously. Consider how many times you may have skipped a restaurant because of unfavorable peer reviews plastered all over Yelp. Your business could be that restaurant.
Many factors contribute to your reputation with talent these days: best practices in hiring processes, robust training programs, a focus on career development initiatives, and maintaining a productive and cohesive business culture. Yet recruiting leaders from companies such as Zappos, Cisco and Glassdoor all draw one overwhelming conclusion -- authenticity is key.
Unemployment concerns occupied a prominent place in the fallout of the Great Recession. In 2009, at the height of the economic downturn, nearly 27 million Americans were laid off or terminated, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2013, despite positive signals of recovery and rebound, close to 20 million people still found themselves being involuntarily discharged from their jobs.As businesses continue restructuring and rightsizing to assure their growth in the improving market, executives realize that they need to look at talent differently. The workforce composition has changed radically between 2008 and 2014. In past articles, we have explored many of these dynamics: the rise of the millennial generation, the substantial number of freelancers choosing contingent work as a career, the impact of social media, and the value of reliable alumni talent to fill gaps caused by ongoing skills shortages. If you want to attract, retain or re-engage workers, and create evangelists for your brand in the process, you must fulfill the promises and expectations made to your new talent.
Traditional marketing efforts have focused on creating evocative advertising campaigns -- slick iconography, catchy songs and visceral imagery -- to connect consumers with a company’s brand: its core products and services and how it proposes to deliver them. For prospective employees, however, this kind of branding holds less value than it does to potential customers.
According to research conducted by LinkedIn: “While there are certainly companies that can easily attract top talent on the basis of powerful overall brands, these companies are in the minority. How do most organizations compete? Our research shows that a company’s employer brand is twice as likely to drive job consideration as its company brand.”
The employer brand sells a company to talent:
● What is it like to work here?
● What is the employee culture?
● How are the benefits, perks and work-life balance?
● How supportive is management?
● What are the career paths and advancement opportunities?
Social media also has a huge impact on perceptions. Where sites such as Yelp guide the decisions of consumers, sites like Glassdoor create lasting impressions -- good and bad -- about your employer brand. The LinkedIn study found that a strong employer brand helped businesses attract twice as many qualified candidates and was three times more effective at piquing the interests of “junior employees, candidates from younger demographics, and those outside the U.S.”
Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify Talent, interviewed several HR leaders across different industries to get their insights on the best practices that drive effective employer branding strategies. Zappos Employer Brand Specialist Stacy Zapar said: “My number one tip is to try to give candidates an insider’s perspective into the company... a peek behind the curtain. Be authentic, transparent and paint an accurate picture of what life at your company is really like. That’s what prospective employees really want to see!”
Will Stanley of Glassdoor told Schmidt: “I think the key to a successful employer brand is to use a multi-channel content marketing approach that is truly authentic and tells the story of what it’s truly like working at your company.”
“To me, authenticity – you can only truly develop value around what is real about your company and what you offer your employees – there’s a way to spin everything positively or negatively, but if it’s not true it’s not going to hold up,” noted Cisco’s Sedef Buyukataman. The prevailing theme here, of course, is authenticity.
It’s equally important to point out that these organizations, at the forefront of employer branding efforts, have all created internal positions devoted to cultivating, promoting and maintaining that brand. For Managed Programs and their staffing platforms and suppliers, the job becomes twofold: they must successfully foster their own employer brands while also marketing the brands of the clients their talent will support. Here are some tips we believe will help build employment brand and attract talent.
● Work closely with your clients, particularly during the initial discovery stages of implementation, to develop a deep understanding of their history, consumer brand and social media campaigns.
● Make sure your talent understands your organization’s history, consumer brand and social media campaigns.
● Create internal and external brand ambassadors. Internally, engage your own talent to share their workplace stories. Externally, develop a community of talent who have served the client before, or even client employees, to talk about their career experiences.
● Clearly articulate goals and objectives for the assignment from the perspective of your organization and the client’s.
● Collaborate with clients on social media efforts as a joint outreach program to talent.
● Finalize program strategy and core goals before engagement, addressing challenges to solve and target outcomes.
● Establish the appropriate communication channels.
● Form strong alliances with internal stakeholders and influencers.
● Develop a realistic and phased roadmap for accomplishing objectives, clearly delineating milestones and steps toward achieving them.
● Host regularly recurring forums with talent to keep them informed and inspired. Listen to what they have to say, take their input to heart and above all, be genuine.
The perception is the reality
Orchestrating thoughtful employer branding programs is a win-win scenario for your talent and your clients. They drive productivity, profitability and a company’s ongoing commitment to invest in its workforce. Moreover, the positive image created by these endeavors ensures that employers, to paraphrase Socrates, “be as they wish to seem.”