I recently had the pleasure of chairing the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s (CIPD) Employer Brand and Recruitment Conference. Aside from being privy to a wealth of hugely interesting discussions around how to leverage your brand to stand out from the crowd, the event sparked innovative ideas and thoughts on employer value propositions (EVPs) and what really works; and if it is working, how do you evidence this? 

Creating a best-in-class employer brand isn’t easy, but, as myself and the delegates from the event all shared, there are several crucial elements for organisations to consider.  

Here’s a snapshot of the discussions from the conference.

A strong employer brand is becoming more critical

Creating a strong employer brand: Lessons from a CIPD Chair 

What certainly became clear is just how critical a strong employer brand is in today’s economic climate. Employers are still battling for the best talent despite the Office for National Statistics (ONS) continuing to show a fall in vacancies.  

In the current hiring environment, many organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to attract talent without inflating salaries. That’s where a strong employer brand really has the potential to elevate your hiring and help your organisation not only secure the best active job seekers, but also engage with the ever-elusive passive candidate.  

We know the candidate journey to application has changed dramatically over the last few years; prospective talent wants to know about who you are as an organisation, what you stand for, what does employee life really look like, and they are willing to research to find all this out, before they apply. Having a genuine employer brand can make the difference in shifting the talent you need from considering applying for a role to submitting an application. 

The pace of change we’ve seen in recent years has meant that hiring activity has been very reactive and there’s not really been the breathing space for employers to step back and consider how they’re promoting their brand to passive audiences. However, as talent pools continue to be stretched, now really is the time to get your brand right.  

Authenticity is key   

What makes a good EVP and a compelling message for candidates will vary based on your organisation and its target audiences. However, what every employer brand must have is authenticity. Conveying a culture that will appeal to a wider, more diverse talent pool, that you want to increase engagement with, may deliver initial results, in that you see more applicants from under-represented groups, but the long-lasting impact will be limited if the environment they work in doesn’t match the one they were initially ‘sold’.  

It’s important that the culture new starters experience reflects the picture that’s been painted for them at every touchpoint in the recruitment process, from the initial engagement stage to the point of application and interviews. Not providing a true insight will leave candidates feeling mis-sold and will damage your employer brand in the long-run. 

I should add, though, that identifying what your authentic brand looks like requires an investment in research and insight. The employer brand should never be ‘assumed’ by leadership. It needs to be defined clearly and honestly with those who live and breathe it every day. We heard a wonderful story at a recent event where the directors of a well-known retail brand spent a full day on the ‘shop floor’ to fully understand what their organisation and brand stands for, helping to support the development of their EVP. 

Creating a strong employer brand: Lessons from a CIPD Chair 

When we consider how much the world of work has changed in recent years, it’s highly unlikely that any employer brand has gone untouched and unchanged. It’s crucial to reassess and redefine your employer brand, messaging and company culture on a regular basis, to ensure your external content and communications are still true to life. 

This commitment to constant review is perhaps more critical for those experiencing headcount changes. As people come and go in your organisation, the culture and atmosphere are likely to shift over time. Being able to recognise what it looks like today and adapt any external messaging accordingly will strengthen your employer brand.  

Advocacy also plays a huge role       

Involving your current employees in the employer brand doesn’t stop at the definition stage. Perhaps the best way to convey the authenticity of your EVP is to have internal advocates. People listen to people and tend to be more influenced by the human side of a story, rather than the corporate messaging.  

Having individuals from across your organisation telling their story through engaging video content, and advocating working for you, will often be the most powerful tool at your disposal. That includes using your people to explain rewards and benefits packages that really matter to them.  

Having champions of your organisation will bring the employer brand to life for potential applicants, while also having the added value of engaging your current employees as well.  

Data and tracking haven’t yet been utilised fully  

Data, return on investment, and tracking were all key topics during the conference. While there’s certainly been a slight increase in technological investment in the HR and resourcing remit, it’s perhaps fair to say that no perfect solution to suit all needs is yet available.  

Creating a strong employer brand: Lessons from a CIPD Chair 

However, as we all continue to grasp the opportunities that technological evolution is increasingly creating, there are a few core elements that need to be perfected first. Perhaps the most important is finding what metrics really matter most and focusing on these, rather than taking a catch-all approach.  

It’s common to see employers seeking a complete package that delivers all data monitoring and analysis, but that arguably doesn’t exist, at least not in the way that many organisation leaders are looking for currently.  

Sometimes less is more 

There’s a plethora of communications channels to push content to potential talent pools through, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them to achieve your resourcing goals. Aside from the fact that doing so would overly stretch your budgets and workload, it doesn’t provide the tailored approach to an EVP that should really be implemented.  

It’s important to not only consider what channels your target audiences are active on, but also what type of content works best on these platforms. As a case in point, it became increasingly apparent during the conference just how much influence TikTok is having on today’s candidates, particularly those in younger demographics. In fact, one speaker highlighted that 16- to 24-year-olds are beginning to shun Google for TikTok when searching for information online. 

Being able to stand out on TikTok does, of course, require investment in video content – which is where those brand advocates I mentioned earlier will really support your resourcing efforts. It should be noted, though, that TikTok isn’t for everyone, and there are other demographics who engage with different sources and content for information. Click here to read more about TikTok in our recent blog ‘Why TikTok is tailor-made for (Gen Z) talent attraction’. 

Before choosing where to communicate your employer brand messaging, you need the insight into what channels work with different demographics, and focusing your efforts on those will deliver the best value for your organisation and your goals.  

And remember, once you really understand your employer brand, the real fun starts in bringing it to life.  

Contact us if you’d like some ideas on how to develop and evaluate your organisation’s employer value proposition or for general advice on your resourcing strategy.