And how does employment branding help companies attract exceptional talent?
In today’s market where unemployment is at all time low, it can be not only extremely challenging to attract quality employees, but also to keep them engaged and retained. Further, with all of the cutting-edge tech companies and the growth of innovative and progressive startups, you can imagine how daunting this employment landscape can be for many businesses.
It is more important now than ever for companies to establish an outward-bound image that makes their organization attractive to prospective employees. Hence, the birth of Employment Branding.
So what exactly is Employment Branding?
An employment brand is the market’s perception of what the experience, culture, and personality of an organization is to an employee. If you were to ask current or previous employees what their thoughts are about working at our company, what would they have to say? And is their response how all new, prospective employees view your company? More importantly, is that how you want your company to be portrayed out in the world?
Companies have historically utilized consumer-focused branding, marketing, advertising and sales to become profitable. Certainly, these tools have long been the key to market adoption, brand equity, and reputation. However, companies are mistaken if they believe that having a strong consumer brand is the golden ticket to a booming bottom line.
Companies vastly underestimate the importance of creating, branding and marketing an attractive employment culture. The question these companies need to be asking themselves is, “How much more do we have to sell to offset the cost of losing an employee?”
The answer is more than you probably realize. Our research and experience have shown that employee engagement and perceptions of your organization among current, past, and prospective workers, have a significant financial impact on the bottom line.
Leading talent recruitment agencies recognize that for a mid-level employee it can cost upwards of two-and-a-half times that employee’s salary if that individual leaves and needs to be replaced. For a manager that was earning $60,000, it could cost the organization $150,000 if that individual leaves for a different opportunity. The cost be even greater if the person is disgruntled about his or her experience at your company.
Going beyond excuses and diving into the real costs behind the clearly-tracked numbers like recruiting, onboarding, training and benefits, there are many hidden costs to uncover. These can include, but are certainly not limited to, loss of intellectual property, knowledge of systems, morale, strategic partners or prospects, brand equity and trust from vendors, and market reputation from negative reviews or il-talk from an upset employee. It is nearly impossible to quantify these costs, but the damage is very real.
The unrealized and immeasurable damage comes from the former, disgruntled employee talking negatively about your firm to others, whether it be at friends barbecue, at the local bar, on social media, or at networking events, where there could easily be potential clients, a talented employment prospect, or a vendor. Yes, it’s impossible to assign a hard number, but it is easy to imagine the ripple effect of lost opportunities when it comes to potential sales, quality job candidates, and good deals from trusted vendors adding up to tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So, what is the solution? How do companies build a brand that is attractive to prospective employees, current employees, and those employees who do, in fact leave? Because, some employees will leave, even if you have the best employment brand on the planet. But, how do you make sure the employee who leaves is a brand ambassador and not a brand basher?
It is critical to first understand where your employment brand currently stands. You could conduct surveys among current employees, but, even if anonymity is promised, most employees will be hesitant to be too forthcoming on these questionnaires. A less-costly alternative is to have managers keep their ears to the ground and check reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Payscale, Indeed and LinkedIn. Most importantly, don’t make the mistake most companies do and simply brush off negative comments or reviews as the grumblings of a few low-quality employees. Take each one to heart, and use the opportunity to self-evaluate.
Many companies are very conscious about their culture and may only have some slight adjustments to make and new tactics to implement. Others have a lot more work to do.
And, no, that doesn’t mean simply paying your employees more. Creating a ‘sticky culture’ and a positive employment brand has nothing to do with compensation. The fact is that there is minimal financial investment when it comes to curating a culture where people want to belong, so the ROI is that much greater.
A desire to put your employees first is one of the biggest and most important elements for any company to start this journey. Each company will do this differently based off its mission, vision, and values. Once this is solidified, it becomes the axis that many of the company’s decisions and actions revolve around.
The goal here is to create a mission-driven business. Consumers and employees are aligning with those organizations that have goal larger than themselves and demonstrate that in their day-to-day actions. It is one of our most basic needs: the ability to belong and serve a higher purpose. And, the fact that we now constantly bombarded with information and messages — both good and bad — we crave it now more than ever.
Once this foundation is laid, you need to make sure it is implemented and a structure is established to reflect those throughout the organization. All the time and thought to flush this out is great in theory, but if it is not implemented within the organization than it is all for not. Integrating human resources to instill this culture within the job descriptions, recruitment, employee handbooks, training, company events and beyond is crucial.
The capturing of this new culture and the sharing of that narrative to prospective employees is where employment branding really begins to take shape. How are you showing the daily and weekly culture they will be apart of? What does upward mobility and leadership development at the workplace look like? How is the company living out its values in the community and aligned philanthropies at large? Reflecting these to attract and secure excellent talent within your workplace is done in a similar manner as attracting clients. How often does a client have a six-to-seven figure impact on your bottom line in two to three years?
The irony is that by understanding all of this, you will have a waiting pool of talented people wanting to work for your company. You’ll be able to keep your people for longer and at greater performance levels. Since your employees now know that they are replaceable, and other talented people would love to have their jobs, they will work harder to increase the social capital of the company on your behalf.
Distilling this all down, we are bridging a language gap. Meet people where they are and incentivize, reward, and communicate to them in a manner where they feel that they have meaning and are desired. Certainly, for different generations, the values and life priorities may differ. Yet, we have seen that many people divorcing in their 40’s and 50’s are reverting back to the ideology of the 32-year-old millennial who wants the freedom and flexibility in their lifestyle to travel the world. While simple in theory, setting up a work environment that is able to bridge these values and then establish systems and procedures to implement and protect them is an undertaking.
Our challenge to you is to look at the time value of action, not money. What does it cost every time someone leaves your company? (We know it is higher than 2.5 times that person’s salary.) How much productivity, innovation, and fun could be had if employees were more committed to their jobs? What would happen to your bottom line if everyone — from the intern on up — was a loyal advocate and brand ambassador for your company?
What is that true cost?
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