Connecting Employer Brand to Exceptional Talent

Finding the right talent and retaining top-performing individuals are key elements of how human resources departments support a company. How that company is perceived plays an important role in this process and that employer’s brand can make all the difference. 

Brand is a buzzword more than anything because it can mean different things to different people. Decades ago a brand was a logo and possibly a tagline, like Nike’s “Just do it.” It evolved into a space where people associated themselves with brands. Some individuals would say “That’s my brand,” about Lululemon Athletica clothing or Happy Planet juice, meaning they believed in it, supported it and bought the products. 

Brand as it applies to hiring and retention

This concept of brand further advanced to a place where companies now regularly go through branding exercises; some even try to influence how people feel about a brand. While not specifically taught in most HR courses online, we now see that brand can also apply to an organization’s internal culture in ways that are specific to hiring and retaining talent. 

It might be things we hear like, “Oh, my brother worked for them, they offer really flexible work hours.” Or it could be a negative point of view seen on social media, “Don’t apply to work there, they don’t care about their employees.” All of this can be considered the “employer brand” also known as an internal perception or reputation. Although it isn’t a main topic in human resources courses online, there will always be a message conveyed in HR education programs that employers must have a solid brand and reputation in order to get and keep the employees that will make their business excel. 

An employer brand is a little bit of a popularity contest. 

Building and employer brand

You can build an employer brand by using elements learned in HR courses online. It starts with understanding that candidates aren’t blindly going to take a job because it is offered. Candidates want to feel good about a company they work for and that means it must be differentiated from others in ways that align with employee values. As is often taught in human resources courses online, you want employees to say, “I want to work there, because I believe in what they do and how they are seen in the marketplace. I feel good about that company.” The employer brand is intrinsically linked to the organization’s external brand and falls out of the company’s mission, vision and value statements.  

Creating a solid employer brand will come from considering the organization’s brand from that internal perspective using many of the things taught in human resources courses online. While salary is one element, what would make an employee choose your company over another that offered the same salary or the same benefits? It’s the extras and values you can offer as an employer that will turn the tide. In a LinkedIn global recruiting trends study in 2017, 44% of employees chose to accept a job offer because of opportunities for career advancement; the same number noted challenging work was a primary reason to take a job. This is the same percentage (45%) of respondents who said compensation and benefits made up an important part of their decision to accept a job offer. Money is far from the only factor in an employee’s mind.

As a company, all of the things an employee will receive in return for their work will go into the employer brand perception. This means the aspects covered in HR courses online like salary and benefits are obviously included, but other elements are flexible work hours, a positive and supportive corporate culture, innovative projects to work on, creative project teams, etc. These pieces can’t just be one-offs offered to an employee to sway them to take the job. They must be part of the overall company offering to all employees. 

Elements in an employer’s brand

Think about the different elements that go into what is offered to employees and consider how they can be structured to tell the most compelling brand story. There’s the salary and benefits aspect (which also includes things like holidays, job reviews, family programs and retirement savings) plus there are also the work and corporate culture aspects. Some of what makes up these elements overlaps. 

The work aspect includes the ability to move up the ladder, enjoyable work environment, education programs, work-life balance, job security and appreciation. Corporate culture is also about environment but focuses more on the intangibles of teams, trust, goals, encouraging working relationships and a company’s belief in environmental and social responsibility. 

Potential employees find out about these things from existing and former employees, so the creation of a beneficial employer brand will come from the elements that exist within the company on a day-to-day basis. There is no opportunity to “fake” a good employer brand. While some companies may say certain things to attract an individual employee, if the organization doesn’t “live” those aspects of their brand, it will eventually show through and create dissatisfaction, not to mention resentment among team members. 

If you’re about to start creating an employer brand package, get to know how employees see the organization now and work to improve any poorly perceived elements before talking about “how great of an employer” the company is. This is definitely a case of being in a glass house. Honesty, transparency and authenticity will go a long way both within the organization and outside it, when it’s time to recruit.

Communicating the employer’s brand

Human resources courses online talk about using recruitment tools, job boards and other HR aspects and these can help to communicate a positive brand to attract candidates while establishing a positive mindset about the company. LinkedIn is one social media channel that is definitely responsible for communicating an employer’s brand. Nowhere else are so many professionals talking about what they do and who they do it for. Even if these individuals don’t speak directly to things that happen within the organization their tone, conversation and engagement will say it for them – and your company. 

Is an employer’s brand necessary? The HR experts think so. Given the costs of recruitment, it’s worth creating a real and genuine employer brand to aid in hiring and retention. 

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