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Will your employer brand help you attract and retain talent?

By Stephen Flanagan, Managing Partner for TalentAttract

Heinz recently opened a pop-up shop on Wicklow Street, Dublin, called Heinz Meanz Beanz. It offered a range of meals using their world-famous baked beans. The best part; if you supported their social media campaign, you got to eat for free!

The strength of the Heinz Beans brand meant the pop-up was a huge success. It created positive thoughts of home, family, comfort, quality and reliability. We know what to expect from the product.

Over the years Heinz has invested a huge amount of time and money in this brand. They’ll carry out in-depth research on shoppers and competitors, hire specialist marketing and advertising agencies and analyse data continually, to determine the performance of their brand. To give an idea of the money they invest, in 2010 they launched their resealable plastic bottle in the UK with a £3 million marketing budget.

When customers love a particular brand, like Heinz Beans, they will go out of their way to purchase it (no Batchelors for them!). They become that brand’s most loyal supporters and passionate brand ambassadors. I’m sure you have your own favourite brands.

Similarly, businesses should want their employer brand, i.e. their reputation as an employer, to be as formidable as their customer-facing brand. The same logic applies to both. A strong employer brand attracts and retains workers and turns them into advocates for the company. It differentiates their organisation from the next.

Equally, a poor employer brand can have the reverse effect. Glassdoor revealed that 69% of job seekers would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. Whilst an article in the Harvard Business Review stated a bad reputation costs a company at least 10% more per hire.

Nowadays, more and more people are viewing their job with a highly defined set of expectations, the same way they do with the products and services they purchase. Organisations that ignore the need for positive employer branding could miss their chance to keep talented staff onboard and therefore reduce turnover and maintain productivity.

My own anecdotal view is that a strong employer brand is yet to be implemented by the majority of companies in Ireland. You can see this just by scanning through the job boards. Look at how many job ads (even from large corporations) there are that don’t even give a description of their company, never mind why it would be great for top talent to work there.

Why bother?

Theory tells us that a strong employer brand will attract top talent to your company and motivate your employees to have pride in their workplace and to give their all. Google is the best example of this working in practice. They are one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world and are lauded for the benefits they offer. They receive TWO MILLION applications a year! But it’s not just about benefits, they employ the best in the industry because they challenge their staff constantly and let them grow within their company.

A worrying trend is that recruiting and retaining talent is becoming increasingly difficult. The Hays Recruiting Trends report for 2017 highlighted a number of key stats:

  • 84% of businesses state they will recruit additional staff in the coming year
  • 76% see their biggest challenge being skills shortage
  • 51% highlight competition from other employers

Are you maximising your employer brand to be at the top of the queue to attract people with those much sought-after skills?

The survey also revealed that 50% of staff will move in the next 12 months and 73% in the next two years. Is your employer brand strong enough to ensure you’re not part of those statistics?

Of course, organisations need to have a strong offering for their employees, to be able to engage and retain them. A strong employer brand creates pride in your workforce and motivates them to help your company succeed. Ask yourself, is this currently happening at your company?

If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity and your top talent will be gone as quick as the Heinz pop-up shop

Stephen Flanagan is managing partner for TalentAttract, a consultancy that harnesses the power of recruitment marketing & employer branding to attract and retain top talent.

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