What is your employer brand right now? Don’t know? Think you don’t really have one? On that, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. Every single recruitment company (and every company with staff, full stop) has an employer brand.
An employer brand is what every past, current, and prospective employee think about your business as a place to work. What kind of employer you are or might be, what kind of salary and benefits you offer, what the workplace culture and training opportunities are.
In a market with a shortage of high-performing recruiters, the employer brand has an exceptional power to attract or repel top candidates. And the telltale sign of a weak employer brand is struggling to recruit top billers.
Many recruitment firms don’t have a good understanding of their company brand, often choosing to blame external factors for their ongoing recruitment woes- ‘the quality of candidates these days, a downturn in the sector, Brexit uncertainty’-, etc., etc., etc.
There are certainly external factors at play, but consider this: are your biggest competitors struggling in the same way…or are they the ones scooping up those top billers that could make a huge difference to your company’s fortunes?
The problem is that if you don’t know what your employer brand is, you have no control over it. And when you don’t have control over it, it could be anything- good or downright bad. You could be a manager or CEO of a company with a terrible employer brand, but you wouldn’t know how or why you have it—and more importantly—you wouldn’t have any idea how to fix it.
So, if you’re unsure what your employer brand is, or know that it needs some improvement, here are some tips on how to assess it and create a ‘battle plan’ to make it better.
Step One: Find out what your employer brand is now.
Exit interviews are vital.
A cursory ‘why are you leaving’ approach will not do. This is your opportunity to get honest feedback about why they’ve chosen to move on. (You may want to offer good employees a written reference before the interview takes place to let them know they will suffer no adverse consequences for their honesty.)
Just as importantly, the exit interview is an opportunity to gauge how the employee might talk about your company after leaving the organisation, and therefore an opportunity to ‘manage’ their feelings about the company. A great exit interview can turn a very resentful employee into one who feels their opinion has been heard, and that their contribution as an employee will be missed.
Find out what your current employees think.
In an ideal world, this could be done through a series of one-on-one meetings. However, if you’re reading this, your employer brand probably needs some work, so it’s possible that your employees won’t be upfront and open about their resentments. As such, an anonymous survey will probably field much better results. You may also want to call ex-employees to find out what their reasons were for leaving to get a better picture.
Find out what your non-employees think.
Another option is to ask candidates who have turned your offer down for feedback on why they did so- what made the other company’s offer more attractive than your own? Don’t forget to ask how they found the recruitment process, from the application right through to interview.
Step 2: Create a strategy
Collate everything you’ve heard and notice the trends.
Was management-team conflict a repeated complaint? Do people feel they have opportunities for promotion? Did work-life balance drive people out the door? Are commissions and targets set fairly? Do other companies offer more? It can be hard to hear and knowing what isn’t working is important. change.
Share the results of the employee surveys you’ve done.
Yep, no matter how bad they seem. In fact, the worse they are, the more dramatic the effect: your team will know that you’re committed to making changes rather than hiding damning evidence. In showing vulnerability, lies power.
Create a strategy, together, for improving the employer brand.
People are always more willing to invest in change if they came up with ideas towards it! The team is going to sit up and take notice if you say ‘I want to make this a better place for you to work, and I want your ideas to help do that. How could they not be pleased with this turn of events?
Make the plan abundantly clear.
Once you’re happy with your practical plan for improvement, break it down into small, actionable steps that have clear accountability and measurable goals. Share it with everyone, and make sure you and the other management team lead by example in making the changes.
Step 3: Revolutionise your online presence.
The first place a promising candidate will go to get an idea of your employer brand is online. Your website should have a great About Us page, engaging blogs, testimonials from clients and employees, and an attractive, user-friendly layout. The excellent idea is to find success stories in the organisation and feature them on your website, for example, the senior consultant that started in the company as a reception temp, a recruiter that successfully managed a change in sectors or a recruiter who was supported to do further study and now presents at conferences.
The next step will be social media- recruitment candidates will naturally always check LinkedIn, but they’ll also visit your Facebook and Twitter pages to get a sense of what kind of company you are, and what you’ll be like to work for. Your job postings on social media should be very active, but make sure there are engaging, share-worthy articles about your sector on there too, as well as occasional staff pictures (for example, photos of staff days, the office, team meetings in a funky cafe, or a picture of a bunch of flowers from a happy client.) A quirky daily quote or similar can be a nice way to project the human side of your organisation. All of these things help the candidate imagine good things about what it’s like to work there.
After you’re happy with how your employer brand is shaping up, it can be an excellent idea to enter your company in ‘best employer’ competitions. Even if you don’t place, the fact you are trying to be known as a top employer speaks volumes, and don’t forget that a little mention that ‘We participated in the Best Employers award’ is a nice little touch for your website and social media.
Assessing and improving your employer brand will pay high dividends, not only in attracting top billers but in motivating the team you already have.
Until next time,