Why employer branding is a strategic necessity - Photo by Christina Morillo from PexelThe term ‘employer branding’ has been gaining traction in recent years, but too few businesses give it the ongoing attention it needs. Yet, in the current climate – amid a cost-of-living crisis, talent shortage, looming recession, and Covid-19 cases on the rise – having an employer branding strategy has never been more relevant and essential for businesses looking not just to thrive but survive.

We only need to look at the current airline crisis to start to understand how important employer branding is for a business.

EasyJet and British Airways continue to cancel hundreds of flights due to staff shortages. They clearly have a recruitment problem on their hands now. The shortage of employees has been blamed on many things, including salary cuts, overzealous shedding of personnel during Covid and Brexit’s impact on recruitment. These flight cancellations are disastrous for their brands and bottom line and only make attracting new talent even harder. Why would an employee look to join a brand like that?

The talent crisis doesn’t stop with aviation. Many sectors are experiencing recruitment and retention problems. This is where the business necessity of employer branding comes to the fore. Whether a holding group overseeing multiple brands or a small start-up – the need for employer branding is the same. Is your business considerate to your employees’ needs? Would prospective hires know your values and whether they’re aligned with their moral compass? Do they fit the culture of the company? Is the business a place where they would feel proud to work?

To better understand employer branding, we conducted extensive research with YouGov earlier this year. It determined what really matters to employees when looking for a new potential employer. Also, how much importance is placed on culture and values or whether other factors are more prominent.

How to cut through when recruiting

The YouGov research revealed that 76% of respondents said it was of high importance that the company they worked for had clear values, ethos, and a defined culture. Women placed significantly more importance on this than men (82% vs 69%), and over 45-year-olds across both genders rated it as one of their top three priorities. Organisations need to ensure these factors are communicated externally, as well as being acknowledged and practised throughout the business.

The research also highlighted the importance of work/life balance, with more than 69% of respondents making this their top priority. The escalation of home working over the past couple of years, combined with the ease of instant access to work emails from mobile phones, means boundaries between work and home have become increasingly blurred.

There are various initiatives employers are exploring to address people’s concerns about – and greater focus on – their work/life balance. For example, a four-day work week is a growing trend, with a six-month pilot currently underway in the UK. However, variables such as the type of business and scale of the day-to-day workload remain, as well as the challenge for non-office-based jobs. Offering flexibility or giving employees the choice to make decisions on their weekly hour distribution, or extra holidays through the year, are other good alternatives that may be considered. But only if the incentives offered are true to the business, and not a PR stunt/tick box exercise.

Salary is also one of the three most important considerations for 60% of respondents. With the cost-of-living crisis impacting us all, salary is expected to remain increasingly important to attracting talent. However, it’s interesting that work/life balance was deemed more important by most people than salary. This is most likely led by an increase in mental health awareness and a greater importance placed on well-being, family and leisure time.

How to design an employer brand that works

Our findings have shown that although some aspects of employment appeal to a wider section of the population than others, there is no one thing that employees look for. Businesses need not – and cannot – be all things to all people.

Modern businesses must be far more accountable than in previous generations. Part of this requires them to be transparent about what they do differently to other companies. The employer brand represents what it means to work there, for employees, now and in the future.

When speaking about values, it isn’t about simply creating a set of attractive posters to showcase around the office. It is, however, about understanding why someone should care about working in your company, resonating with personal preferences, and matching in values, ethos and culture.

Employer branding goes beyond jumping on trends and ticking boxes. It’s about setting out a larger, long-term philosophy encompassing your attitude and approach to everything work-related. It is also about the smaller things too. Physical reminders, habits and rituals are what solidifies values and impacts culture, especially in the early days. People also need continuous reminders, and it’s important to speak the language of values in everyday vocabulary. If your business can define that, visualise it, speak about it and then live by it, it will be much better placed to attract suitable, emotionally invested employees who will help your business thrive.

The importance of having an employer brand comes down to three key reasons:

1. Sets values and behaviours for the business

Having an employer brand helps businesses define who they are and sets their core values and beliefs. It helps determine the business’ stance on unpredictable situations should they arise as well as outlines key aspects of employment and best practices, and it needs to tie in directly with the business plan/vision for the company.

2. Attracts the right talent to the business

A business that has clear values, an authentic culture, and a strong brand perception will attract like-minded employees. By having these defined, the time and cost of recruitment is greatly reduced, and the right people will be attracted to the business.

3. Retains talent

Having an employer brand strategy not only helps recruit suitable employees it also helps retain existing staff. Research shows employees are more likely to stay with a company invested in their employee experience, personal development, and work-life balance.

Businesses need to make it clear how their values feed into employee progression within the company. Employees should know that by aligning with the business values, they are lined up for success and on track to get promoted/offered new opportunities within the business.

Ultimately it’s about delivering business success

Having an employer brand strategy is a business necessity. Creating a culture that values employees in an environment they are proud to be part of will inevitably make working for the business more enjoyable. This two-way partnership will make all the difference to the success of the business.

CuriousCurious is a creative branding and communications agency – a company of creative thinkers, strategists, designers, digital innovators, problem solvers, passionate about building meaningful connections between brands and consumers.

Its sense of curiosity brings brands to life, gets them talking, and makes sure they’re heard above all that noise. Curious can launch, re-launch or reposition a brand. (Or simply give it a little dusting off.) And continue the journey throughout the whole communications mix. It’s been curious about everything from premium beers and ovens to communications, technology and law for 20 years.



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