Organizations benefit from employer branding in many ways — some of which may surprise you.
Many CHROs already know that employer branding can differentiate their organization from other potential employers. But the practice can also address a number of other important organizational challenges.
In case the term is new to you, your employer brand is simply your firm’s reputation as a place to work. An employer brand gives potential employment candidates a view into a firm’s culture and how it differs from those of competing employers. Your employer brand can be measured in two ways. First, by your reputation as an employer and attractiveness to candidates. Second, by how widely-known that reputation is within your target group of potential employees.
The latest data on employer branding
My firm recently led a study to understand the impact of employer branding in the professional services industry. Our 800 respondents represented a broad cross section of industry sectors, including accounting and financial services, technology, consulting, and others.
More than two-thirds of our respondents were human resources professionals who had roles that involved evaluating job applicants, and the rest were candidates themselves.
Interesting findings from our survey
To understand the extent to which employer branding matters, we asked respondents to identify the top business challenges facing their organizations. Their answers included a variety of strategic and operational challenges.
For HR executives, one of the important takeaways from this study is that, of the top 10 business challenges respondents identified, three of the top five had to do with recruiting and talent retention:
- Attracting top talent/recruiting
- Reducing staff turnover/retaining talent
- Succession planning/grooming leadership
In addition, two other top 10 challenges also related to employer branding:
- Managing multiple generations in the workforce
- Maintaining a positive public image
Why employer branding matters to organizations
Attracting top talent/recruiting
A strong employer brand improves the quality and quantity of applicants. A firm well known for its culture and benefits will naturally attract a larger pool of prospective employees, more of whom will be premium talent. Such firms always hire good people with specialized skills faster, and are more likely to be candidates’ first choice, making acceptance a faster process. For these reasons, employer branding helps to lower the cost of acquiring talent.
Reducing staff turnover/retaining talent
Although offering higher salaries is a time-honored way to retain top professionals, it’s not always about money. A strong employer brand can be a powerful incentive to stay with a firm. In fact, some research that suggests that many employees value a great workplace (and brand) over higher pay. Especially around quality-of-life benefits like culture, leadership style, and growth potential, a strong employer brand reduces the temptation to jump ship.
Succession planning/grooming leadership
Firms that focus on strengthening their employer brand are able to position themselves not only to attract talent in general, but also the right types of future leaders, at many levels. Candidates themselves benefit from joining an organization with a strong employer brand, because they start out knowing that the firm has already taken a major step by strategically positioning itself in the local job market.
Managing multiple generations in the workforce
A strong employer brand can also include messages that resonate with diverse generations of job seekers, improving the organization’s ability to attract and retain each. For example, we asked employee candidates to rank several scenarios for career opportunities in terms of their importance. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials have clearly different priorities in how they evaluate potential employers. Baby Boomers value working with the most respected firm in their niche. Gen-X employees value being recognized in front of their peers for their contributions. Millennials most appreciate building a personal brand in their industry.
Maintaining a positive public image
Finally, employer branding can provide significant impact on an organization’s public image. Ideally, the employer brand is developed in tandem with the organization’s broader, client-facing brand — or at least developed to complement and support it. From more positive rankings in “best place to work” surveys, to more frequent mentions in articles about the local job market, employer branding can have a broad and valuable overall impact on the firm’s image.
The next step is up to you
If you’re thinking about strengthening or clarifying your employer brand, a good place to start is by considering your overall growth strategy. Doing so will determine your need for talent and priority in having the right talent.
For more information on this topic, I invite you to download a free copy of our Employer Brand Study. You’ll find additional insights into how the practice of employer branding can produce results in many parts of your operations, including recruitment, retention, and other critical processes.