Every business has an employer brand, a reputation that exists in the perceptions of current employees and potential recruits.
A positive employer brand can work wonders during recruitment drives, but a negative employer brand could place a hefty financial drag on business growth and profitability, increasing recruitment costs and, ultimately, the salary bill.
It is crucial that businesses pay attention to how they project and protect their employer proposition to their target candidates.
And especially when it comes to attracting the next generation of talent, Gen Z, there are some key things employers need to be aware of when it comes to effectively communicating their brand.
An emphasis on ethics
While company benefits like on-site gyms and team away days are great, it is a misapprehension for employers to think this is all employees are looking for from the world of work.
In reality, Gen Z wants greater depth of information about their employer than ever before, and this includes its ethical principles and commitment to diversity.
Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial survey quizzed more than 22,000 people across 44 countries; notably, less than a third (30%) of Gen Z were satisfied with their employer’s societal impact.
Millennials followed closely behind, with 26% saying the same.
While the numbers are still proportionately low, these figures have increased from 23% and 17% respectively since 2019.
This suggests more employers are starting to take meaningful action to improve their social impact; however, the majority of Gen Z workers think more work is needed.
So how can businesses ensure their employer values appeal to Gen Z?
The first step is to ensure tangible work is going on to improve ethical business practices and this can take time to be truly effective.
Once a business practices what it preaches, it can openly communicate its values to prospective job applicants who can decide if the employer is a good fit for them.
It seems workers born in the 1970s and 1980s have fewer strong feelings about how their employers approach these issues.
Sensu Insight’s survey of 1,000 UK adults found that 31% choose to work for employers who proactively prioritize diversity and inclusion in their workforce; this is compared to just 11% of Gen X.
32% of graduates would not work for a company that didn’t seek gender parity in pay (compared to 17% of Gen X), while another third also want to know their employer invests in responsible and sustainable business (compared to 14% of Gen X).
It is clear that workers have varied attitudes to employer ethics depending on their generation. But some aspects of employer brand are seen as important to employees across the board.
Employees want to know that they will be valued, treated with respect and encouraged to reach their full potential.
In Sensu’s UK-wide survey, the most sought-after attribute of an employer was cited as valuing employees (42%), followed by giving employees a sense of satisfaction at work (40%), providing good work-life balance (33%) and giving access to training and development opportunities (29%).
The same study found that opportunity to work in different roles or areas of the business was cited highly too by 27% of respondents, as was the importance of friendly management (26%).
While possessing these qualities within the business is vital to a positive employer brand, how you communicate employer attributes in a modern world is hugely important too.
Living in a digital HR world
An employer’s online presence is hugely important in today’s job market. For instance, a LinkedIn profile not only spells out your business’ aims and ethos to prospective employees, it is also a hugely valuable tool for getting job opportunities out into the ether.
Having grown up with a digital world at their fingertips, Gen Z will usually find out as much as they can about a company by analyzing its social outputs.
But it is not only Gen Z who will do their research in this way; LinkedIn is a great example of a cross-generational professional resource.
Prospective employees of all ages want to know about company culture – and hiding details of this is not in any organization’s best interests.
Job hunters want to know that they will enjoy working for an employer and find their role rewarding.
A good place to start is to share details of employee benefits and working structure via social posts and videos.
Genuinely positive testimonials from existing members of staff can go a long way too.
If a business’ presence across major social channels like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn are all updated in this way, the message will get out to prospective job applicants of all ages who may favor some social platforms over others.
While ensuring owned channels are populated with content that promotes a positive employer brand, it is also important that factors contributing to a negative employer brand are dealt with proactively.
People pay attention to poor reviews of employers on sites like Glassdoor and negative discussions within graduate and employee forums.
Employers that do not track, listen and deal with this effectively could be blocking talent from applying.
The importance of listening
Every employer should be prioritizing their employer brand. Doing so helps businesses to improve retention rates and reduce the subsequent costs of recruiting high-quality staff.
Perhaps the most crucial step for any business looking to monitor their employer brand is to listen.
Current employees and senior management staff can shed real insight which can be used to inform wider analysis of how an employer is perceived.
Surveying staff regularly can help a business to track sentiment and act on any issues that are flagged quickly and effectively.
Employer brand reporting can also extend to prospective employees. How an employer presents its offering, such as pay, benefits and leadership, can be tracked to determine how desirable the business is perceived as a place to work.
Tracking employer brand can prove fruitful for so many areas of a business including recruitment, HR, internal and external communications.
It can also inform wider company practices and policies, helping a business to adapt over time to be the best employer it can possibly be.
Once they begin monitoring and measuring employer brand properly, an employer can also see how their brand profile compares to rival employers.
Findings can also be placed within the context of wider corporate reputation, to find out which elements may be contributing to negative perceptions of an employer among talent pools.
Employer brand can affect so many aspects of a business. By taking a deep dive, businesses can ensure they adapt and grow over time to become an employer people really want to work for.
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