RTT – Employer Branding: Building your EVP

These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Thursday 24th October 2013 hosted by AMEC’s Stephen Reilly (Resourcing Manager), titled ‘Employer Branding: Building your EVP’. 

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

How do your key stakeholders view you, specifically current and perspective employees, and what can be done to promote your business as a great place to work?

Having a strong employer brand is crucial for attracting and retaining talent, especially as the market picks up and employees become shrewder with their career decisions. However, it does need to be two-sided. Building an effective employee value proposition (EVP) outlining what is expected from employees and what you will provide in return will go along way to strengthening the employer brand and contribute proportionately to engagement and productivity levels amongst staff.

Why are you so special?

When looking to develop and promote your employer brand and EVP, your first job is pin-pointing exactly what defines you and makes you special as an employer. Many businesses will reference the ‘we value our staff’ statement (which of course might be true) but does this really set you aside from competitors and if so how are you going to demonstrate it? Making bold statements is not enough; it’s all about evidence and providing a tangible message to prospective and current staff members.

Getting the buy-in… who needs convincing?

Many Resourcing functions face a battle when trying to persuade the ‘powers that be’ to invest in employer branding. Often the business believes it has a strong brand (even when it doesn’t) and so further investment from a Resourcing capacity is thought not to be needed. What’s more, a strong corporate brand does not mean you’re going to have a strong employer brand and EVP.

For Resourcing functions that are not in control of their own budget, it can be a very slow and arduous process to secure that buy-in and one which has to be addressed by a business case. The most important thing to do is understand what you are trying to fix. Decision makers are far more likely to take note if they believe something’s wrong. Some key metrics to observe are website traffic to careers pages, candidate flow, agency spend, cost per hire and attrition levels.

When looking to engage your senior population with regards to the importance of developing an EVP, holding back on the jargon is highly advisable – you don’t want their eyes to glaze over. Surely EVP just means ‘what makes us a great place to work’?

The disconnect between Marketing and Recruitment

A frustration echoed by many of our Resourcing colleagues is the disconnect between corporate marketing and recruitment marketing. In many cases, Resourcing’s marketing budget and practice sit outside of corporate marketing’s. Why is it that non-marketing professionals are expected to effectively develop and promote a brand with little help from the ‘experts’? Some businesses are lucky enough to receive guidance and support from their marketing colleagues, but perhaps it’s time to challenge the current model and campaign for recruitment promotions to sit within marketing’s remit? After all, marketing’s job is to ‘market’ a product, service, initiative etc. to a particular audience; why should ‘employment’ not be on the list?

Aligning Corporate Brand with Employer Brand

Does your employer brand mirror your corporate brand? One of the key benefits of obtaining marketing’s involvement with recruitment promotion is the aligned messaging that’s taken to market. It might be a strategic decision to keep these branding initiatives separate, however from a consistency perspective it’s advisable to maintain continuity. You have to ensure that the internal reality of joining your business is reflected within your recruitment promotions.

Sing from the same hymn sheet

Once you’ve knuckled down your EVP or identified why your business is a great place to work, make sure you communicate it. Take note of the various touch points that occur during the recruitment process and ensure that this messaging is embedded in interview dialogue and marketing materials etc. Most employees will have their own perception of why they like working for your company, however it sends a more powerful and consistent message if hiring managers and recruiters are reiterating the same values.

Enriching the candidate experience

A poor candidate experience is going to have the biggest detrimental effect on your employer brand. Candidates will talk about it on glassdoors.com, on their social networks and during off-line conversations. So, what are you doing to enrich the experience, promote your EVP and set yourself aside from competitors? Here’s a couple of suggestions… after all your candidates could be future customers:

  • Create an exclusive pre-interview portal for candidates to read bios on their interviewers, view video content, read testimonials from current employees and brush up on interview techniques
  • What are your interview rooms like? Do they reflect your brand, culture and the reasons you’re a great place to work? If they’re small, box-like rooms in the basement of your building the answer is probably going to be a no
  • Is your interview structure different and engaging or are your candidates being asked the same questions at stage 1 – 3 of your recruitment process?
  • Soften rejection emails. We all know that for one job role there are often hundreds of applicants and going back to all with a personal email / phone call is impractical. However, preparing generic content on ‘improving your CV’ or ‘getting yourself head-hunted’ and including such article links within rejection emails softens the ‘no’ and actually provides some valuable advice.

Getting recognition through winning awards

Becoming an ‘Employer of Choice’ or winning relevant employment awards can be a great way to boost your employer brand. However, entering awards is a time-consuming process and can be very disappointing if you are not victorious. When embarking on your ‘award journey’ map your success stories on a simple chart with ‘innovation’ at the top of one axis and ‘impact’ at the top of the other. Success stories that chart high on ‘innovation’ and on ‘impact’ are going to be award winning. Don’t waste your time entering ‘stories’ that didn’t make an impact and that weren’t innovative.

Social media marketing

Social media isn’t a new concept and most (if not all) businesses will have experimented with some form of social channel over the past few years from a corporate standpoint. However, it seems that there is still some hesitation around using this tool from a recruiting / employer branding standpoint. Yes it needs to be properly resourced and follow a content strategy (a jobs feed isn’t going to engage anybody!). But – it’s free, it’s real-time, it’s engaging, it can be measured and it can be used to communicate on mass.

See below our employer branding do’s for using social media:

  • Set objectives – what is it that you want to achieve?
  • Introduce your social media channels during corporate inductions
  • Create policies so employees know where they stand with regards to posting content online
  • Ensure messaging reflects your EVP
  • Find out where conversations are taking place online and then join them to tap into great talent pools
  • Understand what your target audience wants to read, watch and listen to – then create a content strategy that encompasses their interests
  • Monitor! What’s working well and what’s a waste of time? Your social media strategy can and should be tweaked to cater to demand
  • Measure – are your objectives being met?

Leave things on a good note

Last but certainly not least – what impression are your employees left with when they choose to leave the company? Quite often employees aren’t able to develop to their full potential by staying within one business; that’s life. However, ensuring that they want to return when they have acquired additional skills / experience is crucial. Ending things on a good note and communicating that the door will be left open (in positive instances!) will positively enhance the employer brand. Simple tools like Alumni or Associate groups can be effective for communicating with and engaging ex-employees. It’s these initiatives that will ensure they continue to speak positively about your business, refer their peers to join you and potentially will come back themselves one day, should the opportunity be there.

Takeaways:

  • Identify exactly what makes your business a great place to work, develop your internal values and align them with your external promotions
  • Improve the integration between Resourcing and Marketing teams to create a more joined up message to market
  • Understand the journey that candidates go through during the recruitment process to enhance their experience as much as possible
  • Differentiate your business from competitors with a more interactive and informative recruitment process – pre-interview portals etc.
  • Talent pipelining will never be effective unless you do something positive with the group and keep them informed. If managed poorly, this can result in large reputational damage
  • Introduce ‘expectation interviews’ when a candidate joins your business and repeat the interview when the candidate passes probation. This will present a good indication of whether your external promotion / recruitment process truthfully represents the internal reality. It’s also a good way to evaluate your line managers’ capability
  • Ensure there is consistency within the recruitment process and that all people who come into contact with candidates are reiterating the right EVP messaging and values
  • In today’s market, candidates will often have multiple job offers on the table. It’s important to remember that it’s not just the candidate’s responsibility to sell themselves to you; it’s also your responsibility to sell your business to candidates.
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