Before we get started on the detail, it’s worth noting the most important part of this. An employer brand is not what you write on your website, or write in instructions and guides for staff. It’s what your employees say it is. What that means is that without engagement in delivering a specific brand from the top down, all work here is futile. Everyone has to be on board; they have to get it, understand the “why” and then live and breathe it. Half-arsed attempts will be seen for what they are immediately, and will do more harm than good. In an age of social media, news of what’s occurring will be published. That’s what you’re hoping for if you’ve got it right (free advertising!), but definitely not if you’re wide of the mark.
Warning duly issued, here are four pointers you could consider:
Understand your current employer brand.
As alluded to above, this is driven by your employees. Depending on the size of your firm, consider 1-2-1s with all staff, or focus groups if you’re larger. What do people like about working there (so you can keep doing this) and what do they dislike (so you can change). What don’t you do that you should? Your people must be able to speak honestly without fear of retribution, and there’s a chance that some messages will be difficult to hear. Anonymous surveys offer an alternative, but attractive cultures are open, honest and approachable, so there’s extra work needed if this is the only viable option. I can’t iterate this enough: publish the results and act on them. Nothing destroys morale more than asking for feedback and then ignoring the results.
Also conduct research externally; look at what are people saying about working at your firm online, and your overall recruitment process.
Build engagement amongst existing staff
The key to building any brand is consistency, and an employer brand is no different. If you’ve defined your vision and values, ensure key words and phrases are used consistently in communications; from recruitment pages to interviews, inductions to team meetings and communication from leaders.
Champion your employee success stories and improve approachability. Has Daisy from accounts just completed her Level 4 AAT? Let everyone know. Has Danny received some outstanding feedback from a client? Promote it. Maybe Claire started as a trainee 3 years ago and now runs a team. Publish it. Everyone knows that Helen heads up the sales team, but how did she get there? Tell her story. Regular communication from leaders is almost a given in the current workplace, but if this isn’t happening already, do it. Make sure to include something personal to humanise yourself.
Employer review sites are littered with bad reviews, mostly because we’re more likely to complain than give praise. Where websites offer the possibility to respond, do so, but also ask your team to leave their own – hopefully positive – reviews (outcome of step 1 will dictate if this is a good idea yet)
Hire for diversity
Utmost care must be taken here, as recruitment should be on merit and not tokenism and introducing quotas for diversity risks undermining existing staff and introducing animosity if they’re viewed to not be recruited on merit. Review the language used in recruitment material to ensure it is inclusive, and consider whether your criteria – the need for a degree for example – are necessary. Make sure those undertaking interviews and selection understand unconscious bias and how to address it.
Not only is a diverse workforce appealing from an employer brand perspective, it can also give you important insight into potentially new markets for your product or service.
Recruit on soft skills
“Hard” skills – knowledge and technical expertise - can be taught much faster that trying to address a miss-match in soft skills. Whilst the ideal candidate will possess both, it is arguably more important that your chosen candidate aligns to the required attributes of a role than specific knowledge. Soft skills - attributes such as problem solving, critical thinking, adaptability and team work – will determine whether a candidate will fit into your team, and it’s important to match these as close as possible.
Hopefully this gives a bit more insight into how you can begin to build your employer brand. At Skilling Gate, we’re happy to help our clients improve their employment practices as part of our relationship. If you’re interested in discussing this further, get in touch.
0117 428 6388
07711 622 676
Skilling Gate Group Limited
St Nicholas House
31-34 High Street
Bristol BS1 2AW