Employer branding as a reputation management strategy

Reputation management is usually associated with mainstream PR & Media. This article will focus on reputation amongst employees and future hires, collectively referred to as employer branding, which has been gaining prominence as the race to hire the best quality talent among large-scale employers (> 10,000 hires/year) is heating up. 

As we know, the cost of retaining talent is much lesser than the cost of hiring. This article will touch upon a few talent branding best practices and ways to measure your employer brand effectiveness. 

Let’s start with a few simple checks. Does your organisation have a formal strategic goal on employee experience and engagement right under your CEO, COO, or CMO? Have you mapped the entire journey of a probable candidate from the lens of user experience starting from when he/she hears about your organisation, applies for a job, finishes the interview process, and joins you? Is this candidate lifecycle co-owned by the hiring and brand team? The common thread here is ‘employee experience’ and can have a significant influence on your talent brand or reputation. Let us see some best practices that you can adopt. 

I asked you if your candidate lifecycle is co-owned by the hiring and brand team? Irrespective of the answer, it is highly recommended that you have a common framework for employer brand communications and design, that is well-accepted within your organisation. Most global companies have elaborate brand guidelines, but very few have talent brand guidelines in place, which can be a real differentiator. To lend authenticity, you can use your own employee’s photos and videos instead of relying on paid stock images of models. 

Make your employees your brand ambassadors and let them narrate your employee value proposition to attract future talent. Many companies have successfully used this strategy and continue to do so. 

Another best practice is to provide your employees with a platform via a mobile or web app where they can log in and amplify verified news posted on the organisation’s official social media channels. They can do this by using their personal social media handles to like, re-tweet, repost, and comment positively about company updates. The underlying logic is to take advantage of the collective social media reach of connected individuals and their networks. With this organic amplification of your verified company news/content, you can also save the money spent on running paid social media campaigns. Another great practice is to acknowledge and reward highly-engaged employees and sustain it further. 

Coming to our third pit stop – Glassdoor rankings, you must be wondering what is new here? Glassdoor is gaining higher significance as a measure of an employer brand as it is being used not only by a potential talent to know more about your company but also by clients, besides other business criteria, in awarding deals. While Glassdoor is used by current and former employees anonymously, don’t be shy in asking your current employees how they feel about their organisation and post it on Glassdoor. Find organic opportunities within your organisation when asking for feedback such as during rewards and recognition, CSR campaigns, and any other employee engagement initiative where you create a moment-of-truth for your employer brand. The key is to have an organisation-level employee experience charter in place, not a mere goal, owned by none other than your top C-level HR executive. 

As a next step to gauge talent brand effectiveness, run an internal employee survey on the same parameters that Glassdoor uses for review and validate the overlap of response from the internal and external audience (talent). 

Being a marketer, you must have come across the dilemma of rightly measuring your marketing’s effectiveness. While reputation measurement through PR is achieved easily by calculating the share of voice, but to measure your talent brand reputation and to conceive right talent brand initiatives, one must invest in a mix of qualitative and quantitative surveys. 

Quantitative surveys should bring out metrics of aided and unaided awareness compared to your competition. Use qualitative to gain in-depth information about your talent’s underlying reasoning, levers of attraction, and how they consume information via different channels. It always pays to have a ‘digital-first’ mindset when defining a channel-mix!  

Quantitative surveys are comparatively easier to execute as we deal with numbers, and many research firms can provide this tried and tested service. However, for qualitative surveys the methodology that I have found useful and recommend is from Interbrand, a world’s leading brand consultancy.

For qualitative brand surveys, rely on leading brand consulting firms as they have developed globally applicable methodologies. 

A study by Universum on July 2, 2020, reveals that according to a majority of the world’s most attractive employers, the hiring environment will get harder over the next year. As we often say, there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. So, make your employer brand stand out now!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amit Khurana
Author is Director, Branding & Advertising-India, Capgemini. His current role involves strategizing, conceiving an executing corporate brand as well as talent brand campaigns. He has almost 18 years of experience in the field of marketing & communications and has worked with IBM, Deloitte and Infosys.

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