Pay attention to Employer Branding!

September 7, 2015 Geoffroy De Lestrange


Since I’ve been working in marketing for more than 15 years, I know my profession is sometimes considered as nonsense, hot air, or even “a lot of rubbish”… This usually comes from people who only see this work as related to B2C advertising, which we all most of the time really don’t like: who has ever found a washing powder add thrilling?

This is exactly the same problem with employer branding. When we look at career sites (when they exist), they all look alike, with (fake) pictures of smiling employees explaining how wonderful their job is, and with a company mission statement which consists very often of buzzwords.

Glassdoor, pioneer in employee reviews, published a free “employer branding for dummies” ebook where it explains that employer branding is a mix of company culture, employee opinion, candidate experience and corporate brand. 

So what are the issues?

·       Potential candidates need to be motivated to join the company and apply

·       My company must be the preferred one compared to competitors

·       The values publicly displayed have to be in accordance to those truly practised within the company

·       My company employer branding must be the same inside and outside

Employee opinion really fuels employer branding, as it is the most efficient way to acquire candidates (via referral), motivate them and hopefully hire them. This is why employee satisfaction is a very important factor for gaining a strong employer brand. It’s what is at the core of notation websites such as Glassdoor. It is interesting to note that the French social network Viadeo, and the German Xing, both offer employer notation features and we can only expect LinkedIn to come with something equivalent at some point.

Employee satisfaction includes all aspects of the working life, from professional elements (interest of the job, evolution, development) to private sides (compensation, other non-financial benefits, work/life balance…). It would be too long to focus on this topic in this blog post, but what needs to be done is to ask employees for their opinion. The simple fact of doing this is a very powerful element of internal communication in itself. Of course, you can’t ask someone about his/her opinion and do nothing about it. Knowing the level of employee satisfaction must lead to actions to make it better, which implies that you perform such a survey on a regular basis and you give feedback to employees on how those data have been used.

When you have started to measure your employee satisfaction rate, you can ask them to promote your company into evaluation websites such as Glassdoor. This implies a high level of trust and confidence, but note that your employees can do it anyway, whether you ask it or not! If you do this properly, which means after showing that you take their interest at heart, you can expect some good results and return on investment.

The same way you show respect and trust towards your employees, you need to do the same with your candidates. During the entire recruiting process, candidates must feel they are respected and that the company has a professional and human attitude. In short: When it’s no, say it! Don’t be ghost recruiters! The hiring process must be transparent, the job description has to be detailed and clear: no hidden information! A good example of this concerns call centres: it might be a good idea to display on the recruiting page some recording of standard and difficult conversations, to enable candidates to picture their future work. In summary: don’t oversell, don’t be vague either.

Last but not least: for those who went to final but didn't make it: a relationship has been established. Be honest and positive when you explain why they were turned down. They will feel respected and accept your decision. They might even get useful feedback for their future job search.

The final element to take into account is new employee engagement. Onboarding starts when the contract is signed! It’s not only about administrative forms, but also getting to know the future colleagues and start learning about the company. It is important not only to manage efficiently the administrative aspect of the new hire (working contract, various forms, office and IT supplies…), but also to include your new employee in your corporate social network as early as possible. You can also plan for new hire training online to be done before the starting date for a seamless and quick onboarding.

One last thing: it seems that the question of who owns employer branding: HR or Marketing/Communication still remains unclear. This is relevant as corporate brand does belong to Marketing/Communication. My opinion is that, even if I work in a Marketing department, Employer Branding absolutely comes under the hood of HR, but HR would definitely need to rely on Marketing/Communication expertise when it comes to community management and public relations. Therefore, Marketing/Communication has to be a regular supplier for HR. As British HR association CIPD puts it:  “It is important that HR works collaboratively, for example with colleagues in marketing, public relations, internal communications and corporate responsibility, to share expertise and reap maximum benefits from developing an employer brand.”

Any other idea you want to share for a successful employer branding strategy?

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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