Why it’s time to invest in your employer brand

Employees have, and always will be (for the most part), at the heart of every business.

Yet most employers don’t actively curate an employer brand to help them reach and engage the best talent.

Fewer still see the strategic links between their employer brand, business performance and corporate reputation. But that is beginning to change.

Employer brand is climbing up the priority list; driven by behavioural changes in talent markets across the world, increased expectations of employers and new definitions of employers-of-choice. Perhaps more importantly though, the employer credentials of brands are becoming a consumer issue.

Consumer awareness is continually expanding to consider how businesses behave and respond to the changing world around them.

Building relationships with brands

As individuals, we want to see our values and beliefs mirrored back at us by the brands we identify with.

FleishmanHillard’s latest Authenticity Gap report revealed that nearly two-thirds of consumers (64%) believe that for a company to be more credible than its competitors, it must talk about its behaviour and impact on society and the environment, not just the customer benefits it offers.

Similarly, 65% of consumers believe that CEOs must speak up on issues that ‘may not have a significant impact on the business but have a significant impact on society.’

The ethical merits of a brand’s manufacturing and supply chain process, marketing approach and ESG commitments are just some of the practices under scrutiny, but increasingly we are turning our attention towards how organisations conduct themselves as employers.

Consumers expect brands to ‘do better’

Consumers are less likely to identify with brands and businesses linked to poor working conditions and unfair compensation.

Adequate employee care and remuneration are crucial, but a carefully considered, authentic employer brand can effectively challenge misperceptions of industries with seemingly unattractive characteristics and lift the lid on employee experience to broaden their appeal.

This shift in awareness is largely a result of gradual societal change, propelled further by a global pandemic that re-shaped entire economies, irrevocably changed our ways of working and put the spotlight on how employers look after their people. Other major social and cultural developments that have contributed to the changing talent landscape for employers include:

  1. Diversification – most companies now embrace the reality that a diverse talent base is critical to meet their business needs and fuel future growth. But for employers to be considered truly inclusive, workplace cultures must foster an ethos of belonging. Too often, attempts to diversify are built around vanity targets, without rooting out discriminatory practices and behaviours. The perception of hypocrisy around DE&I can have a deeply damaging effect on reputation, often attracting mainstream headlines. Unsurprisingly, 72% of consumers surveyed by FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap research stated that CEOs must demonstrate their commitment to DE&I both internally and externally. While a clear, tangible DE&I strategy is the first critical solution, building an employer brand with DE&I at its centre can help deliver cultural change to existing workforces and provide reassurance to marginalised talent groups.
  2. Acute labour crises – emerging from the global pandemic, entire industries have suffered the devastating effects of labour shortages, resulting in operational turmoil and blows to consumer confidence. The reduced number of overseas workers has played a role in these crises in the UK, but traditional employers across the world are struggling to compete with cross-industry disruptors who can offer greater flexibility and better terms, helping to fuel the global ‘Great Resignation’. Make no mistake, ‘the candidate’s market’ will endure long beyond 2022. While there is no magic quick fix, a stand-out employer brand as part of an integrated, long-term solution represents a significant advantage against talent competitors. Through an employer brand, employers can own their story and capture the interest of potential candidates.

As with any brand journey, creating and managing an effective employer brand is no small undertaking – it requires strategic investment and ongoing commitment.

But working to its true potential, an employer brand can deliver immense value by enabling companies to meet their operational needs, engage their workforce, and positively influence brand perception, performance, and reputation among potential candidates and consumers alike.

Lianne Dowie, account director — Talent & Transformation

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