Piyush Sharma - a versatile leader working at the intersection of business, civil society, academia, social and policy impact - is Executive-in-Residence at UCLA and a Stanford SEED Consultant besides being a global CEO coach and a C-Suite + Start-up advisor.
Peter F Drucker once famously declared that a business exists to create a customer. The guru of marketing, Philip Kotler taught us that the customer is king and defined ‘Customer Value Proposition’ to be the all-encompassing mantra for creating delight.
While the primary goal for building a consumer brand is to sell more product, that for an employer brand is to sell the company as a great place to work.
The digital revolution in the information age has made the concept of employer branding take off in a big way in the past few years. No company that wishes to attract, nurture and retain the best-in-class talent today can afford not to pay attention to building a strong employer brand.
The key employer branding objectives consist of securing long-term recruitment needs, creating the rightful competitive differentiation and building the employer brand both at a local and at a global level. Companies that consistently attract and retain the best talent get one thing right: Employer branding.
As the world comes to terms with the emerging future of work in a pandemic-struck era, content, technology and employee advocacy will all play a critical role in employer branding.
As per Forrester Research, it takes up to eight brand touchpoints to influence a consumer decision. Employer branding touchpoints consist of job listings, website and blog, culture and corporate values, candidate communication and careers page. These touchpoints are directly under the company’s control. The touchpoints also consist of company reviews, employee stories and advocacy, and social media activity. These are things a company can directly influence. The final two parts are public perception and awards and accolades, which a company can indirectly influence.
Then there are things one cannot control in employer branding. Examples include media, family and friends, consumer experience, consumer marketing and word-of-mouth.
Globally, some of the best examples of employees’ testimonials content are published by Marriott, of office and workplace content by L’oreal, of company culture and of recruiting content by Microsoft, of career page by Google, Cisco and Twitter, and of awards content by Hubspot.
Much like the marketing funnel, the recruitment funnel moves through awareness, attraction, interest, application, interview, hire and finally advocacy.
Employee advocacy is one of the most important where employee-generated content becomes all-important. This may consist of ‘day in my life’ features or ‘why I applied’ or ‘why working here is different’ stories.
The average network size of a company’s employees is 10x larger than its own. A company’s employees are its secret weapon. Active promotion of a company by its employees can be organic or actively engaged through employee advocacy programs. Turning your employees into a social recruiting army is, therefore, a sensible strategy.
So important is employee advocacy today that there are sophisticated tools available for it. An ideal employee advocacy tool makes the optimum use of content sharing, publishing, monitoring, gamification and analytics, perhaps all in one platform. Some of the world’s top tools are Sociabble, Post Beyond, Trapit, LinkedIn Elevate, Smarp, Everyone Social, Bambu, and Hootsuite Amplify.
The benefits of strong employer branding are not difficult to see: shorter time to hire and lower cost per hire on the one hand, while improved retention and engagement for an overall better talent pool, on the other.
Employer branding strategy, therefore, consists of setting your goals, identifying the ideal candidate profile, defining the employee value proposition (akin to customer value proposition), defining the channels and candidate touchpoints, and finally, measuring the results.
Social media needs to be, well, social. The focus shifts from promotions to conversations, where the alignment of the marketing team is a must. World majors like P&G, Mars and Google are thinking ‘community’ in their approach to employer branding.
While the options for social media channels may be endless, five of them that take the cake are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest. Dell, Unilever and GE particularly leverage Facebook well. Hubspot, Starbucks, Salesforce and Microsoft are great examples of using Instagram well.
The India Story
It is estimated that over 30 million active users or employable candidates are present on Indian social media platforms. The top 10 most attractive employer brands in India for 2019 as per Randstad Employer Brand Research 2019 are Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Mercedes-Benz, IBM, Larsen & Toubro, Nestle, Infosys, Samsung and Dell.
In the emerging new world post the Covid-19 pandemic, employer branding is set to become one of the most critical investments in a company’s arsenal. It is too important to be left only to either the Marketing or the HR department. Both need to work in tandem.
Not only is it important to develop an Employee Value Proposition, but it is equally important to measure the three KPIs which are all internal—average retention rate, new hire quality, and employee engagement levels. Social media remains the most important digital channel, poised to grow in the future too.
Most importantly, the future of employer branding consists of unifying the consumer and the employer brand, especially for the post-Covid-19 world.
The writer is an Executive-in-Residence at the Indian School of Business (ISB) besides being a global CEO coach