What’s Your Employment Brand?

In today’s economy, our recruiting strategy must adapt key talent management strategies to changing workforce demographics.

To support our employment brand, we need to leverage the institutional knowledge of our more experienced workers and balance those with the workforce expectations of our younger workers.

When I think about employment brand, I think about the perception in the general public of what it’s like to work in our organization. You might find more in-depth definitions of employment brand elsewhere but, to me, it all comes down to that perception.

When talking with company leaders, I often ask them what their marketing brand is. Of course, they’re quick to tell me and, typically, it falls into a key strategy like being customer focused, or operationally focused, or perhaps product or service focused.

But when I ask what their employment brand is, they typically can’t answer me.

My reply is, “Well, your marketing brand and your employment brand need to be attached at the hip. There’s no way that you can continue to have a strong marketing brand if your employment brand is suffering.”

The reason for that is quite simple: if we aren’t attracting the best and the brightest employees who want to deliver the best products and services to our customer base, it won’t be long before that lack of attention to detail and lack of caring from our employees will start to impact the quality of the product or service we’re putting out in the marketplace. Obviously, that will impact our marketing brand.

So, I tell business executives all the time that they need to be concerned with both of these items. Not only that, they should expect the HR function to drive the employment brand just as they expect the marketing function to drive their marketing brand.

When we think about recruiting in today’s economy, our employment brand is impacted the very moment someone hits “send” and submits their resume. Our efforts on talent acquisition have to be strategic. How we respond from the moment that person hits send and submits their resume begins their entire candidate experience with us.

How we handle them from that moment on will impact their view of us regardless of whether we hire them or not, and those opinions will impact our employment brand in the marketplace. Ultimately, social media has revised our entire recruiting playbook. If you’re not responsive to candidates, if you’re ghosting candidates, that’s going to hit social media loud and fast— and your employment brand will continue to tank.

You have to look at your processes to ensure the very processes you’re using to draw people in are not also a barrier to engaging prospective talent. Many organizations are moving to various software packages to help them manage the applicant process. That’s fine so long as we maintain a personal touch with these candidates.

In today’s environment, we can’t sit back and think that candidates should be thankful we’re looking at their resumes. In fact, it’s the opposite. We should be thankful they researched us and decided to offer their services to us. The paradigm has shifted.

You’ve heard a lot about the various generations in the workforce. While each generation brings a uniqueness to the employment experience, what we must be concerned with is whether or not the messaging of our employment brand addresses the multi-generational workforce that is present in the marketplace today.

If you do a Google search under “how to attract millennials into the workplace” you will literally get millions of hits. That worries me! We still have Baby Boomers who are looking for employment and want to stay actively engaged in the workforce. All of Generation X is still actively employed in the workforce as well.

And of course, now, you’ve got Generation Z entering the workforce. The first couple years of that generation have graduated college and are entering the workforce. What are we doing to reach out to Gen Z as part of our employment brand?

For the last 15 years, all that businesses have focused on are millennials. I’m not advocating that we no longer be concerned with them, after all they do make up the bulk of the workforce, but we have a new generation to learn about and we need to determine what they’re going to bring to the table.

Our employment brand messaging has to speak to what each of these generations wants in the workforce. Since there’s plenty of information out there about other generations, I’m going to speak about what we know about Gen Z.

We know they want meaningful work. They want to make an impact on the people they’re serving, and they care about personal growth and development. They’re also very concerned with work-life fit.

If you’re concerned about the future of the workforce, perhaps because your workforce is aging, your success will be determined by your ability to draw in Gen Z-ers as they come into the workforce over the course of the next decade.

I’m amazed at the number of breakout sessions at conferences that still have “millennial” somewhere in the session title. While that’s okay, what amazes me about that is that in many cases, millennials are making business decisions for us! Yet it’s like the rest of us are still trying to figure them out. If we haven’t figured millennials out at this point, it’s too late.

They’re here and they’re solidly in the workforce at this point. They’re in mid-level management positions now, sometimes even higher than that, and we have all the data we need to figure out how to engage them and draw them in. The future of your organization now has to be focused on Gen Z and what they’re bringing to the table.

What our employment brand comes down to is learning to market our jobs and our work environment just like we would market our products and services.

Today, recruiting has to focus on what today’s workers want. I get so frustrated with business executives who tell me they offer all these great things and they’re not getting candidates. I ask them, “when is the last time you asked candidates what they want?” Because what may be a great idea for you isn’t necessarily a great idea for them! We have to be willing to adapt.

We also have to remember and realize that employees are expecting more from the employment relationship today. Meaningful work is critical to them— they want work with a purpose in an organization that has a purpose. It’s not about making widgets; it’s about making widgets that solve a big problem in society— that’s the message we need to get out there with, folks! That’s what builds employee commitment. Once we have that, we have an employment brand we can be proud of.

Much of this article has been dedicated to the recruiting piece because that’s where your employment brand starts. But employment brand really gets rounded out by the experience our people have once they’re in the door and working for us. They see the skeletons in the closet and say, “You know what, this is still a great place to be.”

As business executives, it’s imperative that we spend time, thought, and effort in developing our employment brand in order to sustain the business results we desire.

Do you need help developing your employment brand? Email me at ed@edkrow.com or call 717-674-3468 and let’s talk.