Employer Branding – Are Your Employees Your Advocates? 1241

Q + A 1

The employment space is experiencing head-spinning change – whether it’s about technology taking the centre stage or the candidates taking the lead when it comes to choosing employer of choice – it is almost a 360-degree overhaul. Talking of choosing the employer of choice, candidates aren’t settling for a good pay grade anymore. They are considering other factors like perks, work-life balance, and above all – the reputation of the organisation. In fact, 75% of candidates consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. And where do look first – current employees at the organisation?

This tells us that building a positive brand identity and a healthy work environment is not only important to attract new talent but also retain existing employees. It is a cycle – if your current workforce is happy working with you and thinks you care for them, they will become your advocates and promote your brand.

In turn, when prospects seek their opinion or research about your company otherwise, they will find positive reviews and recommendations. However,  a great employer brand isn’t chalked out overnight.

While employer branding has moved from being a marketing or communication buzzword to being one of the top strategic priorities, a gap still prevails between what employees seek and what they perceive employers have to offer. To understand how we can fill this gap and build an employer brand that candidates vouch for, we got candid with Ms Sweta Bidwai from Saltside Technology. She talks to us about why having a strong employer brand is the need of the hour and how your current employees can be instrumental in building your brand ground up.

Q. Having a reputable employer brand has become a must for an organisation’s strategy. Can you explain why do we need employer branding? Also, is there any difference between the company brand and employer brand?

A. A company’s brand is significantly different from employer branding. We are talking about a different audience and a completely different engagement on communication. A company or corporate brand is the public face of the organisation which talks to the consumers of the products or services that the company sells. The company’s brand or reputation can go even beyond what they sell.

However, employer branding, on the other hand, is the perception in the minds of your past, current and future employees. This brand isn’t built through the conventional channels of mass media and is best propagated through your employees and your marketing efforts.

In today’s world, employer branding is critical — for both small and big organisations. On one hand, where small organisations would make efforts to attract good talent towards their organisations, big companies need to make efforts to get perceived as approachable and not a distant dream for potential candidates.

Employer branding will communicate the company culture to future employees — promising an environment that nurtures and shapes their dreams. It helps a company cut through the competitive landscape in recruitment and stand out as ‘the place to be’ for any aspirant.

A company’s abilities are the compounded sum of the talent it’s people have. And to excel, any company needs the best of the talent that’s out there. As an employer, you need to make an effort to put yourself out there and promise the best possibilities to attract talent.

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Employer branding will communicate the company culture to future employees -- promising an environment that nurtures and shapes their dreams. It helps a company cut through the competitive landscape in recruitment and stand out as… Click To Tweet

Q. In your opinion, how has the practice of employer branding developed in the last five years? What are the trends for employer branding over the next three to five years?

A. Employer branding, as a concept, is not new. Companies have been employing well-developed product marketing principles to brand their culture since the mid-1990s. However, there has been a paradigm shift in the channels where this marketing was done. Now, most of this content is consumed on social media and review websites. Companies need to make a constant effort to maintain ratings on career review websites and portray a lively culture on their social media. Today, candidates are more aware and treat work environments and the company’s ethics and culture with the same importance as monetary compensation. During all these years in different roles for Human Resources, I have seen a lot of people take a pay cut just to switch to a better work environment.

In the time to come, employer branding will depend more and more on social media along with the experience shared by your current employees. The employer branding efforts will be a must for companies of all sizes.

Q. We often think that a well-known brand doesn’t need to spend much on the recruiting costs. Does a well-known consumer brand translate into an effective employer brand?

A. There are no strong correlations between a consumer brand identity and it’s perception as an employer. A company might be recognised as a household name — which helps in recruitment but doesn’t speak much about the experience as an employee of that company. So, no matter what your consumer brand recall is — investment in your employer branding is a must.

Q. Furthermore, what’s the difference between employer branding and recruitment/HR marketing? How can our marketing skills help us do employer branding?

A. HR Marketing helps you reach the right kind of candidates that you need for specific roles but doesn’t do much in terms of attracting those talents. HR Marketing can be considered a part of employer branding but certainly not an alternative. It goes beyond job descriptions, perks and benefits that employees enjoy.

Marketing your employer brand -- like any other brand -- is all about good storytelling. So, marketing skills play a very important role when it comes to branding. It is all about communication over different channels and the… Click To Tweet
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Marketing your employer brand — like any other brand — is all about good storytelling. So, marketing skills play a very important role when it comes to branding. It is all about communication over different channels and the principles of doing that will remain the same.

Q. Speaking of recruitment marketing, do disciplines like employer branding should be owned by Human Resources or Marketing? 

A. Marketing teams certainly have the best skill set to design communication around the brand building. The wordsmiths can write the best stories about employee experiences and the promise of a great career. But the marketing we are talking about here is marketing of a product that someone is buying.

The product, in this case, is an opportunity for a better career in a nurturing environment that accelerates a person’s growth. The consumer of this product is your future employee and the current potential candidate. Now, this product is best understood by Human Resources. Extrapolating from this analogy, we can agree that employer branding should be owned by Human Resources. However, it is a collaborative effort of different teams that help achieve the best outcome.

Q. Who should be involved in employer branding? Do you include your own employees in recruiting and employer branding?

A. Human Resources and marketing skill sets are a must-have for any employer branding initiative. But employer branding starts and ends with employees. They are at the centre of the story. Your employer brand is primarily tied to the experiences of your employees and what they have to say about your organisation. Social media posts, job reviews and testimonials, direct network conversations, and face-to-face referrals are all ways your current, former, and even prospective employees can impact your company’s reputation.

Q. Lastly, what are some of the employer branding pitfalls companies should avoid?

A. It might seem easy to write the old-school boastful copy with superlatives like best, happiest, smartest etc. But the best employer branding content makes the company stand out from the crowd of competition. It is all about communication, a dialogue with your employees.

The strongest employer perception comes from the employees themselves. So, one needs to make sure that they walk the talk. The HR department needs to ensure that all their claims on messaging are actually followed in practice — even during the recruitment process. A bad recruitment experience can hurt much more than you imagine.


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Sweta Bidwai | Director – People & Organisation for Saltside Technologies India Private Limited. Sweta has been helping corporations build teams from ground up for over 11 years. She has worked with multi-industry as well as highly-focused organisations as a key influencer for culture, responsible for driving performance of the team. Her passion and deep understanding of organisational behaviour have helped her identify and develop talent to make teams that solve real-world problems at scale. And when she is not strategizing for productivity growth, she practices Yoga to keep a perfect balance.

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