The battle for talent in Ireland is well-known. The media regularly cover stories of how hard Irish firms have to fight to secure quality employees for their open roles.
Now, fighting is definitely one way to hire the staff you want. But there’s another more sustainable way to attract the best talent to your organisation and it doesn’t require you to be in a combative mode all the time. (It’s also way more cost-effective.)
And that’s by building an employer brand. What do your ideal candidates actually think of you as an employer?
Every organisation has two brands
You’re most likely aware of your company’s brand, whether you’re a marketing professional or not.
People have feelings and thoughts about things. Your company’s brand is made up by the thoughts and feelings people have around your product(s) or services. It can sound a little mysterious, and it’s a lot less measurable than ROI-driven lead generation campaigns, but creating emotional responses to your organisation through branding strategies and tactics makes great business sense.
Your company also has a second brand at play in the market, and it might be one you’re not even aware. That’s your employer brand.
Essentially, your employer brand is how potential candidates see you as an employer. And this has almost nothing to do with your products and services. Rather it has everything to do with the stories around your organisation that live in the hearts and minds of all of your employees; current, past and future.
How to build your employer brand
There’s not a world of difference between building your organisation’s customer-focused brand and your employer brand.
You need to do some research on your market and their perception of your company as an employer. Tools like Glassdoor can help, but nothing can replace actually chatting with people who have worked at your firm in the past or are currently employed by you.
While these discussions will work best when there’s a great deal of trust between the two parties (you and the employee), you can begin your conversation around topics that are empirically easier to discuss. There’ll come a time when potentially more sensitive topics, such as employees’ perception of the organisation’s leadership style, need to be discussed, but this isn’t necessary at the start.
These include items that cover could be considered the tangible aspects around your employee value proposition. What exactly can employees expect in return for their experience, talents and skills? This goes beyond salary.
One example is “pizza Fridays” (or something similar). Now, we’re definitely not saying that high-quality talent sign a job contract on the basis of getting a margarita weekly.
Instead, we’re using this example (which has now become commonplace) to showcase how companies can show a little of their own values in how they project what their organisation is like as a place of work. Pizza Fridays are never about the pizza. But they are about an intentional company culture that wants to prioritise a warm and inclusive environment, promote social interactions, reward employees with some time out etc.
Of course, we all expect a paycheck for the work we do. Rightly so. However, in a competitive hiring environment like Ireland’s, a salary is only going to attract top candidates so far. It’s your organisation’s cultural differentiators that will help your firm stand out from all of the others hiring.
You want potential candidates to get excited about the prospect of working with you. Pizza Fridays on their own are not going to do that, but they will help create some buzz about your company if they’re offered in conjunction with other benefits. It’s about doing what you can to create happy employees. These people are the ones who’ll broadcast to their networks the message around why you’re such a great employer.
What goes into a great employer brand?
Really, your employer brand is all about sharing the essence of what makes your company unique and great to work for.
Startups often share their mission in their job specs. Far from being (just) a smart marketing tactic, sharing your mission is a way to get your employees, both current and future, curious and excited to work with you. One of the best retention strategies ever is to ensure people genuinely like the work you’ve hired them to do. Helping them understand the big picture of why you’re doing what you’re doing, i.e. your mission, is one of the most powerful ways to do this.
So what else could go into your employer brand besides pizza?
- Location: Think about your location. Are you near great facilities? Share details on your office’s accessibility and convenience.
- Values & culture: What are your company values and culture? Are you showcasing these on your organisation’s social media profiles? You should be, especially on your LinkedIn company page.
- Compensation: Provide details of the overall compensation package your firm offers.
- Career development: Offering opportunities for career development is a significant differentiator. If your firm does this, make sure you get the message out.
- Management style: Provide a few pointers on the kind of management style your firm embodies.
- Teamwork: Teamwork makes the dream work. No truer words... Highlighting as much as possible the calibre of the team(s) new employees will join is a sure way to attract similarly talented people.
- Work: Talk about the work. People will want to know what your organisation does.
- Recognising achievements: Do you recognise employee achievement? Share how you do this in your communication about your organisation.
- Work-life balance: Ah, work-life balance! This is a topic that everyone is interested in. Do you operate a remote working policy? Can staff bring their pets to work? What is your leave policy? Communicate this information.
- Client interaction: Will new staff members get a chance to deal directly with clients?
- Company social responsibility (CSR): Are you a good corporate/business citizen? Allowing staff time to get involved in community service initiatives showcases the heart of your organisation.
- Perks: What on-the-job perks do you offer? Is there a staff canteen, or a weekly/monthly lunch provided for team members? Can staff telecommute? Are flexible schedules allowed?
- Employee benefits: Do you offer pension contributions, dental insurance, health insurance etc.?
Don’t feel overwhelmed by this list. There’s no need to offer every single thing on it as part of your compensation package, but it does give an idea of what top talent is looking for when they consider a new job.
The value of an employer brand
Your employee brand works for you even when you’re not actively hiring. People talk and your current employees are a resource you can tap into to promote your company. Then, when a role does come up that you need to recruit for, you’ll have a community of people eager for the opportunity to work with you. It’s a win-win situation; for you and the job-seeking candidate.