The recruitment market in the built environment sector is currently as competitive as it has been in my 30 years’ recruiting. Candidates are receiving multiple offers and wage inflation is rife. In times like these some employers are noticeably better than their competitors both at retaining employees and attracting new staff. Their success generally reflects the effort they invest in nurturing their ‘employer brand’ and in particular the clarity they provide around career development possibilities.
What is ‘employer brand’ and how is it different to ‘employee value proposition’?
The ‘employee value proposition’ refers to the full range of benefits that a company offers its employees from salary to career progression, work life balance to company culture. Essentially, it is the company’s marketing brochure on “why you should work for us”.
The “employer brand” reflects how the company is perceived as a place to work. It is a melting pot of the company’s reputation for all the factors that might influence an individual’s desire to work there (or not) - the organisational culture, benefits packages, the employee value proposition (i.e. what the company wants to be known for as an employer) and career prospects etc. While the headline employer brand will typically constitute a handful of factors (potentially positive and/or negative) that set the company apart from the competition as an employer, each individual will likely also zone in on the company’s reputation for the specific factors that they value.
The growing importance of non-financial drivers
Although money remains the primary driver for most employees, over the last ten years there has been a marked increase in the importance afforded to factors beyond salary when individuals decide where they want to work. The social purpose of the organisation, company culture, opportunities for professional and personal growth, work-life balance and dozens of other factors are now material considerations rather than after thoughts for many candidates and employees. However, the variability as to which factors each individual prioritises and how much they matter mean there is no magic formula for creating a successful employer brand.
The importance of career progression
Almost without exception, the companies with the strongest employer brands are excellent both at articulating clear career paths and delivering against them. There is now an expectation that the promise of “excellent career progression opportunities” will have substance behind it and candidates will expect to discuss opportunities in some detail during the interview process, while existing employees will expect the training and development they need to achieve their potential.
How to create a positive employer brand
- Audit your current employer brand: an employer brand audit need not be time consuming or complex. Employers can quickly get a feel for how they are perceived by reviewing employee satisfaction surveys; looking at Glassdoor; consolidating feedback from exit and onboarding interviews; and talking with recruitment consultants and former employees. Bear in mind both that answers will often be watered down to be tactful and that the employer brand may vary between stakeholder groups – for example, a company’s employer brand may vary between current, former and prospective employees; and between IT, management, technical specialists etc.
- Decide what you want to be known for: having understood the current employer brand, employers should decide which aspects of their employee value proposition they want to differentiate their employer brand from.
- Communicate your intended employer brand internally and externally: with changes to the employee value proposition implemented in the day to day running of the company, the company should proactively communicate both how it wants to be perceived as an employer and what it is doing to earn that reputation. Ensuring that there are visible, short term ‘wins’ can help generate momentum and minimise the lag between implementing changes and shifts in perception of the brand.
- Measure success: there are often gaps between how companies want to be perceived, how they think they are perceived and their actual reputations. This is as much true of employer brand as any other aspect of the business. Regular measurement will help minimise those discrepancies and ensure a continued focus on investment in the employer brand, helping the company to attract and retain the talent they want both short and long term.
Although reputations are hard earned and easily lost, companies can quickly move their employer brand in a positive direction by developing 1) a clear vision of how they want to be perceived; 2) embedding that vision into practice; and 3) communicating internally and externally what the company is doing and why. And the longer the focus on nurturing the employer brand continues, the easier the company will find it to attract and retain the people it wants.
If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 174 6801.
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