The Importance of Employer Branding

Very often companies spend a great deal of effort and money in promoting their brand to their customers. This is due to the competition that such companies face. The local employment situation is such that it is now becoming increasingly important for companies not only to promote their corporate brand but also to focus on having a stronger employer brand.

Employers are recognising that talent is becoming harder to find and even harder to retain. Research conducted by MISCO shows that the major challenges being faced by employers today when seeking to recruit people are not finding suitable candidates for the role or receiving no applications in response to adverts for vacancies. The days of posting a job advert and waiting for applications to come in are over. This reality is becoming even harsher in highly competitive sectors where niche skill sets are in high demand.

As the job has increasingly become the means to a lifestyle rather than being viewed as a career, employers need to ask themselves some fundamental questions. Why would someone want to work for them? What perceptions do current and potential employees have about the company as an employer? What percentage of employees would actually recommend their employer to prospective employees? How can an employer become an employer of choice? What should be the leading edge of a company as an employer? Unless an employer can answer such questions, how can one expect prospective employees to answer them and be motivated to join the company?

It is too simplistic to reduce it all to a question of remuneration. I strongly believe that a recruitment strategy which is solely based on compensation will not prove to be a long-term viable option for a company. My own experience as a recruitment consultant shows that people who are seeking jobs consider moving to an organisation with a strong employer brand even if it means that they may move for the same salary they are currently earning.

So what is employer branding? It essentially has three elements to it. First, it involves having a comprehensive recruiting strategy in place that positions the company in an attractive way and makes it top of mind for potential candidates. In this regard, although the traditional forms of promotion are still relevant, the impact of social media cannot be ignored. Moreover such a recruitment strategy should also encompass aspects such as employee development and career progression.

Second, the employer needs to have a focussed message that conveys effectively the company’s values, culture, and identity in a truthful but in a very compelling manner. We speak of motivation at work and the need to motivate employees. We need to appreciate that candidates have also got to be motivated to apply for a job and this motivation comes from the perceptions that candidates have of the employer. Such a focussed message helps to build such perceptions.

Third, the employer needs to project a long term vision of the company that demonstrates the direction the company is taking. The job market in Malta is such that prospective employees will shy away from dead-end jobs. They need to know where their future employer is going and how their job fits into this strategy. During recruitment interviews I often get asked whether the vacancy arose because of the need for more people or because of the need to replace an employee. Candidates tend to prefer hearing the first answer rather than the second, however as long as the employer is honest and communicates this with the candidates, this should not have a negative effect on the recruitment process.

The moral of the story is that an employer needs to position oneself in a distinctive but realistic way in order to be able to attract, retain and engage the right employees. Nowadays it can only do this through an appropriate employer branding strategy.

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