With the onset of technology and the digital age, the reputation of today’s organisations is more fragile than ever before.
The internet can act as global forum for employees and alumni to voice their opinions and concerns about companies, and platforms such as social media and Glassdoor offer an outlet for just that.
As a result, today’s employers must be particularly vigilant. Crafting strong, healthy employer branding is an key step to take in doing so.
What’s more, COVID-19 has bred a new climate of fear and uncertainty, so in 2020, organisations need to instill a renewed sense of safety, confidence and purpose in current and prospective workers in order to successfully retain and acquire talent.
Given the poignant and complex nature of this topic, we sought the expertise of Jay Muthu, Executive Director, Employee Experience, Virgin Media, who first outlined his perception of employee branding and the potential importance of it for organisations.
“Having the right employer brand is paramount because the good word spreads fast, but the bad word spreads even faster,” he said.
“So, it is about creating a connection for potential employees to take a sneak peek into the nature of the organisation before making a decision as to whether they want to pursue the job.”
In today’s climate the significance of this could hardly be clearer, and this is well-documented.
For instance, one study found that 69% of candidates would not accept a job in a firm with a bad reputation.
Another reported that companies with a stronger employee brand see a decrease of 43% in cost-per-hire.
In addition, COVID-19 has put the importance of employer branding even further into perspective. Now more than ever, current and potential and employees need reassuring that the organisation is right for them and has their best interests at heart.
“People will be looking to join an organisation that truly cares about its people,” said Muthu.
So, this begs the obvious question: what does effective employer branding involve, and how can organisations go about creating it?
Muthu offers his take on this, firstly identifying the notion of ‘purpose’ as a focal point.
“Every organisation has a great purpose, no matter what the product or service is”, he said. “It could even be a cigarette manufacturer; in their own way, they have a purpose. Whatever it is, the key is that you are able to really articulate that purpose.”
He goes on to refer to his own employment with Virgin Media, pointing out that at face-value, the organisation simply provides a broadband, telecommunications and television service.
However, he points out the company’s tagline of ‘building connections that really matter’ and says this makes him feel ‘so proud’ to be a part of the organisation.
“For me, creating that connection between the employee and the purpose of the organisation is crucial,” he said.
However, once this has been achieved, a new challenge presents itself. Namely, there is a clear distinction between creating and communicating strong employer branding and successfully delivering on it.
Again, this is a critical element to focus on. Research shows that nearly 90% of employees decide within the first six months whether to commit to the organisation.
“For me, the first thing is the recruitment experience,” said Muthu. “It is so important that your entire recruitment team really know how to bring the company’s brand to life and make it real. They need to live the employer brand.”
“How you onboard people generally plays a huge role in employer branding. When you start a new job, your friends and family always ask you how it’s going, so in that sense you are becoming an unofficial ambassador for the company.”
But what overall impact does employer branding have on an organisation in the long term?
Quite simply, there is a proven link between effective employer branding and organisational success. One study even found that companies which improve their employee satisfaction scores on Glassdoor by just one ‘star’ see a 7.9% improvement in their market value.
“I think the biggest positive impact is that you will get the right talent at the right time at the right cost,” said Muthu, outlining his own take on the long-term effects of employee branding.
“People are the heart of what you do, so the right people are crucial for you to succeed, and that directly correlates with how your company profits and the perception of the organisation in the market.”
Muthu went on to offer some final thoughts, summarising his stance on how HR and business leaders can begin to action change in this regard.
“Maintain authenticity. Your employer brand should reflect the employee experience. Do not create a sanitised version of what your employees feel,” he said.
“And more importantly, regularly update your employer brand and keep it moving. The overall sentiment of the organisations changes over time, so its important that the employer brand moves with it.”
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