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There was an interesting detail in the LinkedIn 2017 Global
Trends survey, recently released, around the disconnect between
what’s desirable and what’s doable. Among the recruiters
surveyed, when asked to name one thing they wanted to spend
more budget on, number one was employer branding. In fact, if
money were no object, 53% would invest in employer branding,
ahead of new technology (39%) and better sourcing tools (38%).

And yet it doesn’t happen. According to the same source, only
8% of recruiters’ budgets are spent on employer branding. This
is nearly one-third of the amount they spend on recruitment
agency costs, revealing something of the ‘distress purchase’
nature of a lot of recruiters under pressure to hire.

So, why the reluctance to invest in an Employer Brand?

Surely the days of employer branding being deemed the plaything
of budding marketeers in the recruitment team are behind us?
And yet there still remains a whiff of suspicion about the ROI
you’ll get. Key to overcoming this is making the link between
defining an employer brand, setting out its aims and then being
able to apply this throughout an organization, which is the
Best Practice vision of the CIPD.

Over 80% of leaders in the survey acknowledge that employer
branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire
talent. And plenty of studies can prove the effectiveness of
employer branding:

  • Attraction of more
    talent:
     Organizations with a good employer
    brand are 250% more likely to rate their overall talent
    acquisition efforts as highly effective, according
    to Glassdoor.
  • Attract better quality candidates: In
    its 2014 report, CEB states
    that employers that invested in employer branding reported a
    54% increase in high-quality candidates.
  • Higher levels of employee
    engagement:
     Those who invest are 130% more
    likely to see increases in employee engagement, according to
    a
    Gallup survey.
  • LinkedIn’s research found that 83% agree an employer brand
    has a significant impact on the ability to hire talent, reduce
    staff turnover by up to 28% and is twice as likely to drive job
    consideration as the company brand.
  • According to the Harvard Business Review, a minimum 10
    percent pay increase was necessary to convince a candidate to
    take on a job at a company with a poor employer brand.

So why does Employer Branding still receive so little
investment?

Perhaps because it’s not a defined, tangible, quantifiable
thing that can be easily, and objectively, measured. Also, a
company’s employer brand is now usually a shared responsibility
between HR, talent acquisition, marketing, communications,
operations or a combination of those functions. In fact, from
2009 to 2014, HR ownership of employer brand dropped from 46
percent to 38 percent, according to Employer Brand
International.

According to LinkedIn,
59% of organizations are planning to invest more in their
employer brand, year on year. But, until recruiters are given
the chance to focus on these longer-term strategies rather than
rely on fire-fighting tactics – we may continue to observe this
paradox.

Reaping the rewards of an effective Employer Brand

At SMRS we have seen the benefit of an effective employer brand
first hand, through our work with clients in this area, and we
know it doesn’t matter which field you are in or the size of
your organization, from a multi-billion £ business like

Kerry Foods
though to a national charity like
Mencap
. And we’ve learned a few tips along the way:

  • Understand why you are doing it and what you want to get
    out of it. A clear understanding of the business problem it is
    helping to solve is vital to ensure you make the most of the
    exercise
  • Buy-in is driven from the top – ensure the leadership are
    not only fully behind the project but are visible behind it
  • Include stakeholders from all parts of the business, not
    only to ensure a rounded view but to drive take-up through
    identifying potential ambassadors for the new brand
  • Ensure the agreed final outputs are fed into all parts of
    the organization so it becomes a living, breathing part of your
    business, from recruitment attraction, through PDRs to staff
    engagement forums.

About the author: Mike Hoffman is a
Client Partner at SMRS, an employer marketing agency,
specializing in employer branding and attraction
marketing.