11 Employer Branding Practices to Focus On in 2021

January 13, 202112:52 pm3255 views
11 Employer Branding Practices to Focus On in 2021
Image source: Rawpixel

At times of crisis like COVID-19 pandemic, workers are prone to be experiencing higher burnout due to high workload, job stress, time pressure, and even limited organisational support. As the virus infections slow down and vaccination starts, businesses are reopening and many are planning to rehire and recruit new and/or old workers. Hiring furlough or new candidates during a recession, however, might not be easy. When hiring furlough employees, there are policies that employees need to pay attention to. At the same time, hiring new workers requires better strategy as many top talents might be reluctant to find new jobs during hard times. To help attract, hire, and engage these workers, employers need a differentiator in their strategy: Employer Branding. 

Employer brands have a long lasting impact on talent acquisition efforts. A survey cited that 94 percent candidates are more likely to apply for a position listed by a company that actively manages its employer brand. The stronger your employer branding strategy, the better and more powerful it is to grab attention of those who seek jobs. 

Amidst the challenging conditions, employer branding strategy must be on point to positively impact future and current employees. The branding strategy should also give a fresh and positive outlook to the public so they know that your brand can do better than competitors, thus attracting more talents towards the company. 

The question is: How to create a sounding employer branding as described above? Here are 12 practical employer branding strategies you can implement in 2021. 

1. Consider the bigger picture

Unprecedented times will likely create hindrance for businesses to optimise the benefits of their strategy in isolation. The employer branding ecosystem detailed in the image outlines the scope of what is involved in building a strong employer brand. It also considers the diversity of stakeholders and functions which need to be engaged in your strategy.  In most cases, adopting a strategic approach to employer branding will require a leadership mindset and engagement to realign other business strategies like talent management, recruiting, communication, etc. with your employer brand strategy. This will ensure key areas of your business are focused in the same direction to create value whilst minimising inefficiencies and redundancies created by teams working in silos.

ACTION: Undertake a stakeholder analysis and align your strategy with the diversity of stakeholder needs.

2. Involve marketers in your employer brand strategy

Marketers need to realise it’s time to take more of an interest in employer branding and its role in building brand strength that impacts shareholder value. It might require more time from leaders if a company has one employer brand and manages different brands at the same time, such as consumer brand. Likewise, interconnected parts, such as employer brand, consumer brand, and corporate brand, should no longer be managed independently given the speed at which the dynamics of the workplace are evolving. 

ACTION: Conduct a round table meeting between HR, marketing and communications to discuss how a joined up approach can benefit the organisation’s brand equity and discuss any barriers which need to be addressed.

See also: Here’s What Happened When HR & Marketing Work Together

3. Learn how to leverage the pockets of talent excellence in the global labour pool more effectively

Great talent exists everywhere amongst the seven billion people on our planet. If you cannot yet find the talents that are able to deliver skills or capability required to deliver the company’s service, the problem might lie in your business model. A key issue for companies is that we are entering the most critical phase of talent scarcity ever experienced, where the number of people leaving the workforce due to the ageing population in many economies such as Japan, Italy, Russia, etc. outnumbers those entering the workforce.

ACTION: Develop a strategic thinking training module for new starters and existing employees. This might be in the form of an application which can be accessed from a mobile device where the majority of learning is likely to occur in the future.

4. Support accelerated skill and capability development

The education systems around the world are not preparing the next generation of workers adequately for the skill and capability needed by employers. Even at a school level, it is becoming increasingly challenging to maintain engagement of students when they have access to the world’s knowledge through their computers or mobile devices. This generation that will hit the workforce in the future is agile, intelligent, and global in their thinking, connected, entrepreneurial and inpatient. Companies need to start planning now and then the systems, processes and policies that need to be developed, adapted or dumped to remain attractive to tomorrow’s talent pipeline.

ACTION: Develop an accelerated capability development program that is linked to the employee’s career development plan and supported by their immediate manager and managers from across the business.

5. Focus on systems integration across borders

Not every leader has knowledge of a company with a global employer branding strategy. The traditional head office, top down strategy requires a different approach if companies are to engage leaders and employees outside their home country. A large number of today’s global companies are in the early stages of global integration of policies, systems and processes which impact on the employer brand. Compounding this is the lack of, or complexity of technology to support this process. It appears we are still some time away from using technology and automation like AI, chatbot, and mobile devices effectively to promote the employer brand and/or leverage for recruitment.

ACTION: Conduct an analysis of the key areas of your strategy (career development, recruitment advertising templates, etc) which need to be integrated across regions.

6. Integrate formal and informal learning 

There is a good learning which comes from “on the ground” experiences combined with formal teaching. Too much learning still occurs in a training group environment which is costly and can lack relevance to individual employees and have little impact on behavioural change. 

ACTION: Plan for leaders responsible for the global employer brand strategy to visit regions where the company has operations to conduct face-face meetings with regional staff and to build engagement with the global strategy. Support leaders who will be away from the office for extended periods of time. Assess technological needs to facilitate employees or contractors working outside the office.

7. Focus on the experience and engagement will follow

Learning from Global Recession in 2008, it is well reported that employee engagement is in decline in many companies. Many corporations need to lay off thousands of workers, freeze wages and focus on cost cutting at the expense of investment in employee engagement and development initiatives. 

Even though many companies have returned to profit at the same level or higher than 2008, the growth in jobs hasn’t kept up at the same pace as it previously did in the recovery following previous recessions. What these companies did is to return profitability thus they were hoarding cash due to the uncertainty in the global economy. This strategy could save companies from having a bad image during unprecedented times. 

ACTION: Conduct an analysis on the employee lifecycle and make changes necessary to ensure an integrated brand experience across the lifecycle.

8. Leverage technology to enable employees to work smarter

There are two types of leaders, those that have no time and always say they ‘are busy’ and those that appear to have all the time in the world at their disposal. The first category is on a never ending search for the next best thing. The latter’s thinking is guided by models, frameworks and experiences. Learning from these two models of leadership, employers should be aware that the latter thinking will be most beneficial to company’s growth. To assist employees become the latter model, there is enough information online to build knowledge and capabilities for those with access to the internet than you could ever realistically consume in your lifetime (or that of your entire workforce).

Train and coach your employees to source and learn from original content that is relevant to their stage of development. Today’s employees and tomorrow’s talent pipeline would be so much familiar with technology, such as the iPad or the ever increasing number of tablets hitting the market which is likely to be recognised as the best personal and career development invention since the personal computer. The game has changed and with record levels of unemployment in many parts of the world along with high numbers of youth unemployment, companies are in the midst of a transition to a new landscape where the focus is on doing more with less. This new paradigm is going to need new approaches to talent acquisition and development; it can no longer be undertaken as an operational function. It needs a strategic approach and commitment from executives to invest in the future sustainability of their company.

ACTION: Conduct an analysis on the employee lifecycle and make changes necessary to ensure an integrated brand experience across the lifecycle.

9. Encourage employees to grow their global network and online profile

Leaders should aim for the ‘triple 1000’ (1000 friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, or the top 3 media in the region) social media footprint on the world’s largest networks.  If built strategically this market reach will provide you with an opportunity to connect globally with others in a manner that will benefit you both and your company.

You need a game plan to build value in your network; it won’t happen by chance so be prepared to invest time in building your online global network and online profile. It will have long run payoffs. A simple tweet can open up new markets for you that can have long run financial benefits for you and your company. 

ACTION: Grow your network strategically as part of your daily routine when checking emails at the start of each day.

10. Don’t obsess with metrics

Most employers will be familiar with the quote by management guru Peter Drucker, “What can’t be measured can’t be managed.” It sets off a trend by leaders to measure everything in business within an inch of its life! Yet, in the process, relying too much on data might rather cause disengagement, loss of brand equity, and a generation of leaders who wouldn’t (or couldn’t) make a decision without first consulting the data. 

The other famous quote, “Your past performance is a predictor of your future performance,” resulted in companies employing candidates who had tertiary qualifications and/or previous employment in a well known brand, leaving the unqualified hi-potentials on the sidelines.

ACTION: Identify those metrics which impact most on the companies productivity and performance and make employees accountable to these.

11. Identify and release your brand ambassadors

Understand your brand is made up of the sum of the intangible and tangible assets of your company. As tangible assets become increasingly cheaper due to competitive forces, the true competitive advantage of a company resides more in its intangible assets such as its people, intellectual property, brand, reputation and experience. Your most effective brand ambassador is not necessarily your CEO or members of your Executive. Your best ambassadors are likely to come from your Employer Brand team in the future.

ACTION: Assess and appoint employees to act as brand ambassadors and provide them with the time to fulfil responsibilities, such as speaking at or attending conferences, visiting university campuses or blogging about company initiatives. This could improve the company’s image as your chosen brand ambassador represents the value of your business among individuals in public.

Read also: Employer Branding Strategy through Ex-Employees