Reputation begins within ‑ Building a leading employer brand

By Christine Duffy

With the unemployment rate in Ireland at a post-crash low, the number of open job positions is increasing and the available talent to fill these positions is decreasing. With 42% of Irish people holding a third level qualification, Ireland has amongst the highest rates of third level graduates in Europe. The current environment is certainly a candidate’s job market.

What’s more, millennials now make up a larger share of the workforce, causing attitudes towards work to change. Younger generations are taking a different approach to work and crave careers that offer fulfilment and development opportunities both professionally and personally. 

We are entering a new period of working where reputation is the currency, and the need for companies to have a strong employer brand is gaining momentum and cannot be ignored. 

‘Employer brand’ is the reputation a company has as an employer. 

Every company has an employer brand; whether it is intentionally fostered or not, it exists. It’s an opportunity for a company to differentiate itself from competitors and promote its identity to existing and potential talent. 

“The number one muscle to flex in hiring is culture.”
– Brian Halligan, CEO, HubSpot

Having a strong employer brand speeds up the recruitment process as it attracts a better calibre of candidates, resulting in reduced recruitment costs. If a company has a strong reputation as a good place to work, productivity increases as employees feel happier in their work environment, which in turn increases the rate of staff retention. 

Building a strong employer brand doesn’t happen over night, rather requires a thoughtful strategy and strong, consistent execution. That said, these five steps are a good starting point:

1. Evaluate what you already have
Evaluating what you already have is usually the best place to start. Look at existing performance reviews, exit interviews or employee feedback to see the current status of the work environment. If there’s not enough information there already, conducting employee research is the best way to get an in-depth understanding of current sentiments and perceptions about your business. Another useful resource is online platforms such as Glassdoor and Indeed to see how previous employees are describing your employer brand.

2. Agree your EVP 
Once you understand how people currently view your company as a place to work, it’s time to define your EVP.

An EVP or Employer Value Proposition is a statement that defines how your company identifies as an employer. It comprises of the values and principles you and your people live by, as well as the culture, the work, the rewards, and perks that make up your employment experience.

3. Create a culture of positivity 
Culture is the backbone of a happy workplace. We have entered a time where salary alone is not enough of an incentive to choose one company over another. Millennials need to value their work in order to find satisfaction in their job and having a set of corporate values that everybody believes in helps to build a positive company culture. It’s also important that employees feel valued and recognised for the work they do. 

4. Trust and Communication
Your employees are your business’s strongest asset and it’s important to develop an environment of trust. Open and regular internal communication demonstrates your company’s trust in its personnel, which over time helps build employee loyalty. 

5. Authenticity, consistency, credibility
Building a strong employer brand takes a substantial amount of time and effort, but these three tips can help you get there: 

  • Be authentic in your approach and in your intentions in order to ensure employee buy-in and adaption.  
  • Be consistent in the communication of your EVP and employer brand. It is crucial that these are consistently communicated in every step of the hiring process as well as actively living the values.
  • Gain credibility through strong messaging and employee testimonials.  Candidates respond best to employees and your corporate messaging can only go so far. Social media is an excellent tool to promote your company as a great place to work. 

One size does not fit all 

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to employer branding, every successful employer brand should be consistent and authentic. It will live whether you cultivate it or not, so you have a choice to make. Do you want to actively cultivate your employer brand or are you content letting candidates make up their own mind about your company? 

Sources: 
2016 Census

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