Employer branding. The fight for talent can’t be won with a chequebook, it’s about heart.

As of 15 September 2022, the unemployment rate in Australia was just 3.5%. That’s the lowest since 1974, half a century ago.

If you have been trying to hire people recently, you’ll know it is very, very tough to find people who have aligned skills, experience and purpose.

If you are an experienced manager, you’ll also know that, if you don’t find people with aligned skills, experience and purpose, and you hire them anyway, your culture will suffer, and performance will suffer a nosedive (perhaps even a nosebleed).

COVID-19 and work from home arrangements have been hard on culture and often, as a result, productivity. A perceived lack of control among managers has compelled many to micromanage, making employees less engaged, motivated and productive. Anything that challenges culture, rather than improves it, is not welcome.

A February 2022 survey by Gallup identified 6 main attributes employees look for when considering changing jobs:

  1. A significant increase in income or benefits (64% said “very important”)
  2. Greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing (61%)
  3. The ability to do what they do best (58%)
  4. Greater stability and job security (53%)
  5. COVID-19 vaccination policies that align with my beliefs (43%)
  6. The organisation is diverse and inclusive of all types of people (42%)

Although (5) feels like a moment in time, the rest consistently show up in rankings; however, not in that order. For example, our experience working with clients in diverse sectors is that remuneration is often not the first although important.

And, buried in the themes presented, is the very strong attraction people have to working with others who share their values, purpose and commitment to the role.

But we are living in times where quiet quitting is a phenomenon, as much as the Great Resignation. People are restless, seeking change and recognition.

A PwC study of 1800 workers found 38% plan to leave their current employer during the next year. That’s enough to make any HR manager join the Great Resignation.

We are seeing what psychologists call revenge behaviours – you may have heard your friends say, ‘I want to take control and live my life’ and ‘if I don’t do it now, then when’ – affect their choice of place to live, what to buy and, yes, their career decisions.

So, how do great companies doing good things attract and keep motivated workers?

Employer branding for the times we live in.

Employer branding is not a new discipline, but it is front of mind for all companies fighting the war for talent. It is a critical consideration for the executive, human resource departments, and senior managers across any large organisation.

The employer brand is inextricably linked to the company brand, purpose and vision. They work in unison to tell a strong, cohesive story about who the company is, why it exists, the journey it is on – and the role its employees have in future success.

Usually, the employer brand is an evolution of the company brand which should embody the purpose.

A Glassdoor study found 79% of respondents would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying for a job, while over three quarters (77%) would consider a company’s culture.

The employer brand should accurately reflect how the company brand is felt and expressed by employees. It should define the relationship dynamics of the connection employees feel with the company.

Brand activation begins with recruitment marketing and builds through induction to establish the relationship employees have with the organisation. It is:

  • reinforced though learning, mentoring, and reward and recognition programs;
  • maintained through internal communications that feature both leadership and worker voices using content that evokes the brand, as well as worker performance review cycles and team meetings; and
  • fostered through cultural programs that are employee led to generate engagement.

Brand activation should be designed to create moments that cut through the ‘noise’ of everyday work, and bring people together to reaffirm what it means to be an employee who belongs.

That’s because, where we work says a lot about who we are. The profession, the company’s reputation, the nature of our job, the competency of our colleagues, and the outcomes of what we do.

Our personal identity overlaps with that of our employer’s brand identity.

Develop an employee value proposition, with your teams.

Sometimes in our rush to be creative, we mask the point we are trying to make.

The employee value proposition (EVP) articulates the functional and emotional benefits of employment with the company. It is a statement of the balance of rewards and benefits received by employees in return for their participation in the workforce.

Think of it as the answer an employee gives when a friend asks, ‘where do you work and what’s it like?’

It should be:

  • strategic: a framework for developing messaging and experiences;
  • tactical: conveyed through events, communications and content;
  • evident at every key employee touchpoint (job ads, careers page); and
  • distinct from competitors in the same and similar markets.

Using different methods over a decade, we have found the best way to create an employee value proposition (and employer brand) is with employees.

It makes good sense. Employees stand to benefit the most from the company finding and recruiting workers with attributes they value in a colleague.

Using design thinking tools and platforms, the process is creative, and it can be held locally as well as virtually using tools such as Miro and webinars – overcoming perceptions of isolation and dislocation often found in large corporations with teams in many locations.

By defining the ultimate colleague, employees are also defining the attitudes and behaviours they too should express. The process is validating and motivating, strengthening consistency of behaviour across the organisation.

We develop employer brands and EVPs – often linked to purpose, vision and strategic planning – in service industries where people and their behaviour are the primary brand experience, and where the fight for talent is often greatest. Industries such as health, aged care, retail, disability, and culture.

And we practice on ourselves regularly. Our EVP framework is performance, culture, impact. It is what we do, and who we are.

For a case study, see our employer branding work with the Royal Women’s Hospital (‘The Women’s). Our team worked with  different employee groups across the organisation to connected purpose with brand and recruitment marketing.

Talk to us about revisiting your employer brand and EVP for today’s times. Get the people you need and want.