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Employment Branding Study

By: Chris Carlson

For some professionals, it might not always seem necessary to have a hand in the company’s hiring process. Some may say that this specific task is better left in the hands of the human resource recruiting department.

That may be so, but understanding how organizational culture and employment branding effects recruitment and retention efforts means a better understanding of the success of one’s company – something professionals at all levels of the organization should find interesting.

Employment Branding Study
Attract, Retain, Repel. What the heck does that have to do with organizational culture and employment branding? Rada Advertising, a recruitment advertising firm, explored this very question by conducting an employment branding study on understanding organizational culture and building an employment brand in the context of culture and the ROI of recruitment and retention efforts.

When the results were tallied, 85 percent of participants said "employment branding is important to my company," yet only 49 percent stated that branding is one of the top five strategic initiatives for their company in the upcoming year, and only 45 percent had budgeted dollars to work on their employment brand in 2007.

Unfortunately, this is a typical study response. While a majority of participants see the importance of employment branding, it is not identified as a strategic objective, and resources, including hard dollars, are not dedicated to this activity. So, how are employment branding programs viewed? Eight to nine percent agree that "branding provides a competitive edge in our recruiting efforts." Over half of the participants feel they have "lost recruitment opportunities by not creating a definitive brand." Two-thirds feel the brand helps them to attract top talent, and 60 percent feel the brand helps to retain top talent.

That metrics are not being used to measure branding activities is evident in the low response rate of 35 percent who agree with the statement, "Employees are excited about the employment brand." This may indicate that employers may "not know" if the employees are excited or not, because the employees have not been asked. The low positive response rate is also supported in the qualitative section, in which participants were asked, "What metric do you use to measure the effectiveness of your employment branding efforts?" One quarter of the participants indicate they are in the beginning stages of the branding process, so they really don't have a lot to measure yet. Over half of the participants responded with one of the following disappointing answers: "We have no specific metric," "None present at this time," "We don’t have any way of measuring this," "We are working on developing metrics," and, "Metric, what metric?"

The remaining quarter of the participants provided us with their metrics. They include: Turn over rate, Referrals from similar companies, Satisfaction index from employee surveys, Offer/hire retention rate, and Time to fill vacancy rates. As you can see, the majority of the participants is either in the beginning stages of measurement or has no mechanism in place to support this type of strategic initiative.

Marketing your employment brand
We also asked, "How are you currently marketing your employment brand?" The resounding themes were: Company Web site, Personal communications, Advertising, Employee meetings, Community involvement, Recruitment and Marketing materials. The participants who do use their marketing department, recruitment advertising agencies, or recruiting search firms to market their employment brand are conscientious about aligning their hiring objectives with key messaging. The smaller organizations (under 500 employees) are consistent in that they really have no systemic communication process for their branding efforts. The feedback from some of our international study participants indicates they have an interesting challenge in marketing their employment brand. One such respondent says, "It is being marketed in a variety of ways based on the country you are in; there really is no consistent message for the organization as a whole."

Sending the right message
Sending the right message is key during execution of your employment brand. Not only does it need to be consistent across all forms of recruitment advertising and communications, but it needs to be consistent through every point of contact with the potential employee from the interview through the on-boarding process and beyond.

Developing and marketing an employment brand is no small undertaking, but it can be achieved with support from top management, an in-depth assessment of organizational culture, and a recruitment strategy to target your specific demographics. If you are not doing anything to understand and market your employment brand, then your organization will not be able to differentiate themselves from like competitors and will be at a significant disadvantage in winning the war on talent.

A study by The Conference Board identified employment branding as the "identity of a firm as an employer”. Branding encompasses the firms values, systems, polices and behaviors in relationship to its employees." In short, it makes it easier for the employee to see why they should remain employed there.

From a cultural perspective, we could say that a company’s employment brand is what it stands for, how it is different from other companies, and what it will and will not do. If the company was a person, this would be the description of the person who may evolve over time, but has certain core traits that will always remain. So communicating these core traits, values, mission, and vision can be a powerful strategy or tool to help you attract, retain, and even repel employees.

It appears that our fundamental philosophy about employment branding holds true. Branding and culture go hand in hand. Understanding organizational culture is vital to knowing who you are and who you are not in order to build a congruent brand that is consistent and believable. Once this has been achieved, you can then create very powerful, targeted, and purposeful recruitment and retention strategies that will support you in your efforts to attract, retain, and repel employees. You can increase the bottom line and ROI of your programs by embracing and deploying these practices. And don’t forget the most important step – creating metrics to measure progress and the effectiveness of the brand you create.