These last few decades, employer branding has been the talk of the town.
When it was first coined in the 1990s, the employer branding process was still quite simple. A company’s name was developed so it automatically associated with the brand and its services or products.
The brand’s logo would then become the face of the brand, and branding schemes and HR strategies would work together to create employer branding.
However, it took a while for employers to give it the attention it deserved, most of them waiting to actually see what difference employer branding could make to their company’s efficiency.
The development of the internet worked as a catalyst in this regard, giving more exposure to brands and quicker access to their messaging, while putting user-generated content front and center thanks to the creation of HR platforms which collect direct feedback from employees or candidates; Glassdoor being one of the most well-known.
Now, fast forward to today and 72% of recruiters believe that employer branding has a massive effect on hiring. When done effectively, it has the potential to attract top-tier talent, decrease time and cost per hire, boost employee morale, increase retention and build credibility with customers.
In the race to engage and retain top talent, it is obvious that employer branding must be a stronger priority for businesses. And while skilled employees remain the first asset of a business, today’s multigenerational workforce has different expectations towards work life and different motivations.
How working environments have changed
Companies must look internally and ask themselves how to keep their current workforce engaged while also being able to attract new talent to join them.
The answer to this question has always been complex. But in our current macroeconomic situation, with a worrying cost of living crisis and growing fears of hiring freezes and job losses, there is added difficulty for many businesses. They are struggling to attract and retain the people they need, while also falling behind in technology and innovation.
A recent study by Mckinsey, which surveyed 16,000 respondents in nine European countries, found that one-third of those wanted to leave their jobs in the next three to six months. It also uncovered the top three reasons for wanting to do so: inadequate compensation, a lack of career development and uncaring leaders.
Over the past few years, expectations of the working standards, and the workplace itself, have changed. With a hectic external world undergoing significant changes, many individual beliefs have been shaken, and must now evolve with the times.
Case in point, the ongoing global health situation and the decisions made to manage forced everyone to work from home for a significant period of time, with more than 78% of those who worked remotely said that it gave them an improved work/life balance. The overall notion of health is also key to this argument, as the burnout phenomenon comes from increased sources of pressure on individuals.
Unfortunately, however, not everyone has the possibility, nor the tools, to face this increased pressure. This is where companies can step in to provide support to their employees, on top of internal opportunities such as career growth and individual development and fulfilment.
After all, a healthy working environment is vital for employee engagement, and credit for employer branding. While the hierarchies of work can often create adversity, keeping it within the confines of healthy competition can create a much better experience for all.
How work can become a sanctuary
Another essential part of being a good workplace that employees are attracted to, and remain loyal to, is having the employer become a point of stability in their life.
So, how can companies provide this necessary security? Expert academic Edward E. Lawler has weighed into this; “An employer brand is intangible. However, many tangible practices and behaviors contribute to it.”
In my experience, the answer is clear: highlighting the importance of values, standards and ethics in the workplace and demonstrating them.
The way to go is to create strategies that engage all employees in a common direction, creating emotional buy-in and inspiring them through healthy competition that pushes the business forward.
They must be truly inspiring, and teach everyone how to build a better work environment where adversity, rather than being a negative component, remains at a productive and healthy level.
Defining great employer branding
The real question here is how can companies stand out in such an environment, and what defines employer responsibility on the eve of 2023? What is key is understanding the needs of today’s talents.
The modern employee has become more conscious of the workplace they wish to be a part of. They not only care about the business offerings but also about its intangible benefits. Such as mental health support, guidance from leadership teams and flexibility in work so people can create a healthier work-life balance and prioritize exercise and self-care.
According to research by LinkedIn, great employer branding has the potential to reduce employee turnover by 28%.
The best employers know they need to invest in creativity and resources to find solutions that are appropriate for the context and community of the business and create a positive culture in the workplace.
A great idea I have seen first-hand is putting learning boot camps in place, which provide an enriching and impacting learning experience for participants.
These types of workshops can also break unconscious bias and mitigate stereotypical assumptions; something that is key to developing a more diverse and inclusive working environment, making it more engaging and satisfying, thus increasing retention.
It is vital that employers develop effective ways to deal with the inevitable difficulties of the workplace, such as through actions which educate employees on how to cope and overcome adversity. Empowering them to recognize their own adversities and normalizing the challenge of every individual experience is a pivotal tool for success.
Additionally, investing in employees’ mental health by providing access to wellbeing platforms and initiatives is a good opportunity to encourage communication and a more fluid collaboration on a daily basis, especially when employees are struggling.
By giving them a solid support system and a safe space to evolve, companies are in turn empowering them to develop a more positive and fulfilling work-life balance.
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