By Michele Lerner
Finding the most talented employee for every job can be as tough as finding children’s book character Waldo, something many people, and not just children, wasted hours on back in the 1990s. According to ManpowerGroup’s 11th-annual Talent Shortage Survey, about 40 percent of employers worldwide report having trouble filling jobs — the highest percentage since 2007.
To attract the best talent, organizations must stand out. And that starts with having a strong brand.
These days, every organization needs to brand itself in order “to be competitive and to attract talent,” said Liz Gelb-O’Connor, vice president of global employer brand and marketing at ADP®. “This is especially important in tech, since now nontraditional tech companies are competing for the same talent.”
Organizations should have both an employer brand and a corporate brand, said Jeremy Tolley, chief people officer for CareHere, an employer-sponsored healthcare company in Nashville, Tennessee. Not enough do, especially smaller companies.
What’s the difference?
“Employer branding demonstrates what it’s like to work for a company; it’s rooted in personal experience,” Gelb-O’Connor said. “Your employer brand should express your employee value proposition so future and current employees can understand how working for you could grow their career and have a positive impact on their life.”
Corporate branding, on the other hand, is designed to express what customers can expect from an organization and its products, rather than what employees should expect.
“Your employer brand and your corporate brand should look like incredibly close siblings,” Gelb-O’Connor said.
According to The Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Research Report, job candidates want to understand an organization’s culture and employee experience and to feel connected to the employer brand.
The research shows that Millennials in particular want to identify with an organization’s values, and consider that identification more important than salary and benefits.
“Millennials are estimated to be 75 percent of the workforce by 2030, so we need to know what attributes are important to them to attract top talent,” Gelb-O’Connor said.
According to a 2016 Gallup survey, Millennials’ top priorities when looking for a new job are the opportunity to learn and grow, the quality of the manager and management, the interest they take in the type of work in question and the opportunity for advancement. They rank all of these things higher than compensation.
“Twenty years ago it was unusual to have someone ask in an interview about company values, but now I hear it all the time,” Tolley said.
He says it’s important to recognize that top candidates have choices about where to work, so they’re even more likely than other applicants to base their decisions on factors such as values.
“Your brand should include your mission, your vision and your values so potential employees can see if their values are in alignment,” Tolley said.
Developing An Employer Brand
Organizations need to be authentic when establishing their employer brands, because people see through false advertising, Tolley said. Organizations also need to be unique.
“If you look at sites like CareerBuilder, you’ll see lots of companies that say they offer competitive pay and great benefits,” Tolley said. “Job seekers hear that over and over, so you need to do something to distinguish your company.”
To build your employer brand, Gelb-O’Connor recommends looking ahead to the type of talent you’ll need within the next five years.
“Consult current employees and executives about what they perceive are the best qualities of the company that would attract the people you need to hire,” she said.
Tolley suggests starting by asking front-line managers to describe what they perceive the organization’s values are, and then surveying employees for feedback.
“You start to find commonalities,” Tolley said.
He recommends that organizations then train employees in the values that fit the brand. The organization can use that framework when recruiting new employees.
“Many companies already have values, but they neglect the link between their values and employment practices,” Tolley said.
5 Tips For Brand Leverage
Once an organization establishes its employer brand, it can use the brand as a recruiting tool. Here are five suggestions on how to do that:
- Explain it:Corporate leaders must be able to speak to the brand, understanding the employee value proposition and why it’s important to employees, according to Gelb-O’Connor. She says organizations need to use their employees as brand advocates and invite them to use their personal brands to represent their places of work on sites like Glassdoor.
- Collaborate: Gelb-O’Connor reports to Talent Acquisition within HR, but also collaborates closely with the chief marketing officer at ADP. “Employer branding is as much about marketing as it is about human resources,” she said.
- Embed it:Employer branding should have management buy-in and be weaved into every program, Tolley says. For example, employee-of-the-month honors could go to people who demonstrate an organization’s values.
- Use it inside and out: Your brand can attract external talent and inspire internal talent, Gelb-O’Connor says. Tolley also recommends letting other people and organizations in your community know about your employer brand, and how it may align with theirs. Although certain values are universal, Gelb-O’Connor says branding should also focus on what resonates with particular groups of people you want to attract.
- Build brand ambassadors:“Telling employees what’s going on in other parts of the company can get people into the mindset where they can connect to the emotional story of the company,” Gelb-O’Connor said. Those employees can then be developed organically into “brand ambassadors for your company.”
Identifying and promoting your employer value proposition takes time, but it pays off.
Employer branding isn’t a one-and-done proposition, according to Gelb-O’Connor. She says it can take even impressive companies years, and it’s something that continues to involve, requiring an ongoing investment.
For more information and for more articles like this, visit adp.com/spark.
Michele Lerner, a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer, has been covering personal finance and real estate for more than 25 years. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post, Bankrate.com, The Motley Fool, REIT magazine, Fox Business News, National Real Estate Investor magazine, DailyFinance.com and NewHomeSource.com.