Employer branding means branding the organization and the work place to be employee friendly where employees would love to work. The advantages are numerous – a successful employer branding makes it easy for the organization to recruit people , increase creativity, and thus increase productivity. The concept of employer branding was first coined in the 1990s and it has gained momentum since its inception. However, the concept reached an all time high in the past two years. Though many companies have taken to build a distinctive employer brand, only a few have succeeded so far.
Companies need strategic integration for building an employer brand. In fact, it is hardly possible to create a successful employer branding without integrating the initiative closely with the greater organizational missions, values and strategies. Organizations usually take up such initiatives to attract the talent pool; thus, the organization’s talent acquisition group mostly drives such initiatives. However, the organizations need to understand the necessity and purpose of creating an employer branding initiative, as shortsighted approach can do more harm than good. They need to define the expected results as well as how the results will help in furthering the organizational goals, both short and long term.
Organizations must meet the following conditions to build an employer brand successfully:
Collaborative Effort: Employer branding is a part of the organizational strategy, as a whole. Organizations need to create a task force for this initiative, which would be responsible for overall brand building exercise. The teams should include representatives from departments like talent acquisition and management, corporate strategists, line managers, and corporate communication groups. They need to ensure synergy among the branding initiative and remove all roadblocks while implementing the strategies.
Articulating Brand Attributes: It is important to articulate “the factors” the brand would represent. The organization should thoughtfully decide the brand attributes through focus groups and series of brainstorming sessions. Management should reach out to existing employees to understand their perspective about the organization. This helps to identify the strengths, upon which companies build their branding initiatives.
Create Brand Ambassadors with Existing Employees: Though companies spend huge budgets for publicity and ad campaigns, the existing employees are strongest influencers when it comes to creating brand image. However, most companies overlook this factor. Employee speaking passionately about their company is the best publicity an organization can ever obtain, especially when word-of-mouth plays such an important role in the social media.
Stay flexible, learn to adopt changes: A successful brand knows how to make changes from time-to-time, and how to adapt quickly to these changes. The corporate environment is changing fast with each passing year. Branding practices, inclusive of corporate marketing and advertising efforts, must change accordingly, to ensure business promotional activities are staying relevant and fresh.
These were the principles based on which corporate branding strategies must be formulated. But a brand is recognized through its employees. Besides looking after the needs of its customers, a company must make considerable efforts to keep the employees happy.
The above principles can be implemented only when the company works towards systematic development of its workforce. The role of the human resource development team is crucial in this context. Employees need to be motivated to work hard, and join each other in accomplishing common organizational objectives. Performance of each employee needs to be monitored closely, and anybody who needs guidance must be helped immediately. This isn’t a one-time procedure. But this is how it needs to go on, till employees understand that the company is genuinely interested to retain each employee and look after his needs.
A strong employer brand is created when sharing of mutual interests between the employees and the higher management happens at each level. This happens when performance managers dedicate themselves towards influencing each of their team members, and inspiring them to work harder. On the other end, the HR team needs to ensure that employees are not complaining about anything. A healthy work environment must be maintained in each department. It will certainly push a company to create a solid employer brand, which is strong enough to create a separate niche for the company.
A reputed brand is where employees are satisfied with the scope of their responsibilities. In these companies each agent feels he can improve his performance with practice and with time, and thus be recognized for his efforts. The importance of performance appraisals can’t be ignored in this case. Everybody works for money. So employees must be given systematic appraisals, depending on how far they have gone to perform at an optimum level and that too, on a consistent basis. HR executives must coordinate with team leaders to make sure each employee is given equal treatment when it comes to performance appraisals. It will help the organization maintain an impartial attitude towards its manpower.
Finally, its performance enhancement programs, which serve as a key, factor in determining whether a company will be able to build a rigid brand identity for itself. Bulk of the workforce joins the organization as novices. It’s the duty of the company (the HR department in particular) to ensure these novices are trained and groomed to become experts in due course of time. And of course, a higher conversion ratio will signify how fast a company can develop its employer brand!