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how to make your employer brand stand out

There has been a lot written about the impact of recent events – from the pandemic to Brexit to the great resignation – on the balance of power in the labour market. UK job vacancies rose to a new record of 1,247,000 in October to December 2021, while the Resolution Foundation estimates that over 550,000 left the labour market altogether as a result of the pandemic. Almost half of employees globally are considering moving on from their existing employer, with over a third (36%) happy to do so without a new role to go to.

With the balance of power seemingly tipping towards employees, it’s clear that employers need to do more to stand out. In a Supper Club LinkedIn poll the overwhelming majority (75% at the time of writing) of respondents cited recruitment as the people challenge most keeping them awake at night. It’s clear employers need to do more to stand out and appeal to the widest pool of talent.

A digital discussion for Supper Club members last week, hosted by Club member and founder of Initial Jamie Matthews, looked at how the idea of creating a powerful employer brand can help.

This is not a new concept. The idea of the HR team swiping some of the principles of branding from the marketing department was being discussed and written about in the 1990s. But encouraging greater loyalty and increasing your appeal to both existing team members and potential new recruits has risen back up the agenda, partly as a result of the talent gap and partly as a new generation of employees have demanded increased emphasis on issues such as culture, values and organisational purpose.

The Employee Value Proposition

Matthews looked at the issue of employer branding from a perspective focused not just on the slightly vague concept of an employer brand, but the rather more tangible concept of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This he described as, “The value exchange between an employer and its employees. To put it another way, it’s the total employment experience that is offered by a company in exchange for the productivity and performance of its staff.”

This involves many different, but related aspects of the company’s culture and values, its way of doing things and the rules and behaviours it sets for staff and the “psychological contract” between the two. Matthews showed a map of some of the many connected elements involved.

The key point for Matthews is that EVP is an excellent way to bring many elements of this ecosystem together. “A strong EVP will bring the seemingly unconnected, perhaps disparate elements of a business under one cohesive strategic umbrella.”

The Covid effect

Covid changed forever many aspects of business, but few were shaken so fundamentally as the essential psychological contract between employee and employer. Put bluntly, Matthews explained that there has been an explosion of people feeling they don’t want to do “the same old sh1t I have been doing”. And the post-pandemic workplace requires a value proposition based on new management principles, providing opportunities for deeper connections. According to Matthews, offering “radical flexibility” is what will have the most impact.

With a rapid expansion of employee experience rating platforms, such as Glassdoor, and a generation who have grown up used to peer-to-peer ratings services such as Trip Adviser, there is a need to think differently about the recruitment process. Employers need to understand that employees are treating job moves like other purchases. As Matthews put it, “Your next employees are buying a job from you and there are plenty on offer from a wide range of competitors. Social media and platforms like Glassdoor mean that both positive and negative employee experiences have a much longer shelf life and therefore impact on a company’s future hiring ability.”

How to make your EVP sing

Matthews then highlighted the eight traits of a good, or great, EVP. These were:

1. It must be Visible

2. It should be Felt

3. It must be Consistent

4. It must be Ownable

5. It must be Different

6. It must be True

7. It must be Relevant

8. It should build Relationships

Matthews went on to explore the ways that a strong EVP can help an organisation, citing a wide range of areas from values and culture alignment to optimised training goals, from faster career progression to better salaries, from an enhanced reputation to a clearer vision, as well as several other factors such as a stronger recruitment profile, better bottom- line growth and higher levels of staff retention.