Since the early 1990s the term ‘Employer Branding’ has circulated the corporate world. But what is it all about? The DEBA(German Employer Branding Academy) describes Employer Branding as the following: ‘Employer Branding is the identity-based, extremely efficient (internal and external) development and positioning of a company as a credible and attractive employer.
In order to determine the quality of their own Employer Branding, employers should ask themselves the following questions:
- Are the staff or the clients and the suppliers that I want at my company employed by competitors?
- Is my company only a chance for young professionals to take their first steps in a career?Do they only want to gain work experience to have a better chance on the job market after one year?
- Does my business have a good reputation on the market but struggles to find employees?
- Am I the only one who identifies with the company? Are my staff unmotivated and dissatisfied with the working conditions?
In our department we know that ‘Employer Branding’ is closely connected to marketing. But why is this? From now on we call our company’s employees ‘internal clients’ to explain the concept more clearly. It is equally important what we offer external and internal clients to create a good and successful Employer Branding strategy.
First of all the three essential and most important tasks:
- Recruiting talented staff: As an employer you always want to find the most talented employees who are the best for the team. In order to attract this target group, it is necessary to discover what constitutes these people and what are their ideas of a good workplace and employer, just as it is in the field of marketing. The marketing must aim to fulfill these expectations and communicate them to the outside world. Since a potential employee wanting to work for my company is invaluable to Employer Branding. It is really successful if people who are not even searching for a job want to work at my company.
- Retaining talented employees: Once the most talented are recruited for the company, it is a matter of retaining them. You don’t just keep your employees by giving them more money; it is rather a question of business culture and identification with the firm.
- Motivating the staff: This is probably the point of failure for most companies. If employees are motivated and identify with the firm, they will feel like a part of the company. For example, this means that they will stay longer at work, if it is required, without getting annoyed. But this doesn’t mean that you can only search for employees who work 12 hours a day! However it is important that they will stay if it is really necessary and don’t have the impression of being enslaved or exploited.
How do you implement successful Employer Branding?
Analyzing and identifying messages
Firstly, we have to analyze our company’s product and its tangible characteristics. Let’s take a company that produces yoghurt as an example. The tangible part of the yoghurt is the yoghurt itself and the packaging. The next step is to identify all the characteristics that are not tangible like the taste, the quality etc. These properties are also transported to the outside by marketing to ensure that the costumers perceive our product how we want them to – for example, that our yoghurt is healthy.
But we also have to convey this message to our employees – our internal clients. To reach this aim it is possible, for example, to offer further education on the topic of ‘healthy nutrition’ or to organize factory tours for the employees’ families in order to provide a better insight into the development of new recipes. That is where you can see the connection between internal and external clients for the first time.
The management has to exemplify the corporate philosophy through its own behavior
The identified company and product messages have to be personified and lived especially by the management. The management, on the top of the hierarchy, should set an example and pass the corporate philosophy onto the staff. The Employer Branding works perfectly in cases where all the employees on each level identify with the enterprise, its philosophy, and its products.
Coherence of message and reality
The company philosophy must not only exist in the heads of the workforce, it needs to be lived, too. We assume that a company promotes transparency to the public. This transparency also has to be seen internally. However if there is an internal closed-door policy and the employees talk in whispers and exchange secrets, there is no coherence between message and reality. As a result, you risk losing some of your employees. In keeping with the example of yoghurt: Imagine you buy a pot of yoghurt that promotes healthy properties. But if it turns out that the opposite is true as the yoghurt consists mostly of sugar, you probably won’t buy it a second time. The company lost a customer. The same thing can happen internally: An employee who applies for the job as they were led to believe the company was transparent, but then j finds only closed doors and secrets, will be disappointed and soon seek out other employment.
The message has to be lived during the whole employment contract
The company’s messages should be maintained during the whole employer-employee relationship. It is said that the message should be lived ‘from the beginning to the end of the contract’. But good Employer Branding starts before the conclusion of the employment contract. Employer Branding can already be applied during the application process. The corporate philosophy can be exemplified to the potential staff through the phrasing and the design of the job advertisement and the job interview – and at best, the identification with the company already starts at the application stage. To accomplish this, you can show the applicants an image video of the company, offer a tour of the office and provide them with information, advice and assistance. You want your establishment to seem transparent? So represent this aspect in the job interview too: Answer all of the applicant’s questions and provide them with information about the potential employer. The application process is the first and most suitable moment to prove the company’s strength as a good employer.
Even if the applicant doesn’t get the job in the end, he can transport his positive experiences and favorable impression of the company externally and pass them over to other people.
But the strategy should not stop after the job interview. The Employer Branding strategy must be implemented ‘from the beginning until the end of the contract’ in order to guarantee that the staff identifies with the company in a positive manner during the whole employment. After all, today’s employees could be tomorrow’s clients or talk to others about their employer. Staying with the example of yoghurt: Would you recommend a disappointing product to a friend?
Upholding the company’s good reputation
As mentioned just now, good Employer Branding should be implemented during the whole employer-employee relationship. Since new employees are continuously hired and others quit the enterprise, the Employer Branding strategy should always be consistent and the same for every employee. Therefore, it is important that Employer Branding is constantly visible. There are numerous opportunities for this: Surprise your staff with a small present on their birthday, offer incentives or Christmas bonuses, invite them to company celebrations, etc. It is not always necessary to organize a big event: Sometimes just praise form a superior works wonders.
It takes time and money to develop a good Employer Branding strategy. But in the end you receive something much more precious: a motivated employee who takes the company’s brand outwards and is willing to work later at the company for projects and colleagues. Is it worth it? – What do you think?
This article was written in cooperation with Stefan Schmidt.
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