As the skill shortage in Australia and the rest of the developed world continues, businesses need to change the way they hire if they want to ensure that they can compete for the best talent on the market. This means engaging in more active recruitment, and building an attractive and eye-catching employer brand to appeal to workers.

shutterstock 1022439433 300x200 - It’s time for businesses to focus on their employer brand

By developing a strong employer brand, businesses can better catch the attention of potential candidates, attract talent from other companies, and become more competitive. Gaining this crucial edge in recruitment allows businesses to not only access more and better candidates, but also to reduce training costs, and to grow faster and more reliably by relying on the skills and experience of high-value recruits.

What makes a strong employer brand

A business’ employer brand is simply the reputation that a business has as a place of work. Employer branding is the process of actively shaping that reputation through messaging and policies. A great employer brand is built through the combined efforts of a business’ leaders, and its employees. To achieve this support, though, businesses need to ensure that their culture and current workplace policies create conditions that encourage employees to support their employer branding goals.

Crafting a strong message

In order to stand out from the crowd of potential employers that high-value candidates are typically faced with, businesses need to craft a concise and impactful message to catch the eye of their desired prospects. This message illustrates the fundamental culture of a company, and the relationship between employer and employee. This employee value proposition (EVP), is designed not so much to fully explain the business’ mission or values, but rather to provide a clear and concise image of what employee life is like, and what each party is expected to do for the other.

Creating an EVP

In order to develop a good EVP, businesses need to combine their own aspirational goals of who they are as a workplace, with the lived experience of actual employees. This means that employees should be consulted to help craft an EVP that is both inspiring, and accurate. Also, an EVP should be kept relatively short, ranging in length from just a few words, to perhaps a short statement of 150 words. This is to ensure that the target audience actually reads the entire statement, rather than moving on after scanning the first two sentences. To keep the EVP concise, businesses often rely on imagery and metaphor to communicate more with fewer words.

Involving employees in your branding efforts

A strong employer brand isn’t just built through messaging, but through the grassroots efforts of current employees. Of course businesses do attempt to control their employer brand entirely through advertising and messaging that reflect their aspirational goals rather than their employees’ lived workplace experience. This is dangerous, because contradictory accounts by current employees, often easily accessible via online employer-review portals like Glassdoor, can severely undermine these efforts. Moreover, candidates who are initially attracted by such messaging may quickly become disillusioned, leading to poor morale and increased turnover. Instead, businesses should work to incorporate their workforce into their branding efforts. Before that can happen, though, businesses need to make sure that the employment experience they offer actually inspires support from their workers.

Find and troubleshoot cultural problems

The first step in identifying and addressing cultural problems within the company is simply to open lines of communication with employees. Consult with workers about what they like most about coming to work, and how their work-lives could be improved. Once armed with the appropriate knowledge, changes can be made to make sure that your business will actually be the type of workplace that your branding efforts will describe.

Incentivise employees to aid in recruitment

Employees are a powerful networking tool for an employer. Workers who love their job will happily recommend their employer to friends and acquaintances. To reliably boost this effect further, businesses can provide financial incentives to employees responsible for referring new hires, or offer them recognition for their efforts in another way. Additionally, potential recruits can be referred by recruiters to speak privately with current employees about their experience in the name of transparency, and to further emphasise the role that employee engagement plays in the business.

Finding the talent that businesses need is becoming more difficult year by year, as populations age and the demand for specialised talent increases. Because of this, it’s imperative for businesses to find ways to attract more top quality talent. Besides simply helping them to get the workers they need to grow, this translates to shorter training periods, and more qualified workers. Most importantly, because these workers are in short supply, every trained and experienced employee a business can recruit is one that competitors no longer have access to.

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