Executive Recruiters Say Employer Brand More Important Than Ever

June 6, 2016 – More than half (56 percent) of job seekers across the globe say an employer’s brand and reputation is more important today than it was five years ago, according to a global study of job seekers conducted by ManpowerGroup Solutions, the RPO provider of ManpowerGroup. The new white paper, ‘Brand Detectives: The New Generation of Global Candidates,’ found that the feeling is even stronger in China (72 percent) and Mexico (62 percent).

Millennials are the most brand-driven candidates, ranking company brand in their top three motivators, along with compensation and job responsibilities. Social media is the No. 1 way to find information about a company in China; in Mexico, 43 percent of job seekers use social media for brand research.

Alignment and Satisfaction

“The Google generation does not have to rely on what potential employers tell them about a company; they have instant access to news articles, social networks and employer review sites,” said Kate Donovan, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup Solutions and global RPO president. “Today’s job seekers recognize they spend a significant amount of their lives at work, and as such, they want to ensure they align themselves with organizations that have great brands and a satisfying culture.”

The report highlights three ways companies can improve their hiring processes to better attract and retain top talent:

  1. Bar Raisers: Identify current employees with good leadership soft skills who can participate in the interview process – to market the company to potential recruits and recognize which candidates have the most potential.
  1. The Recruiter Proxy: Companies new to the idea of building their employer brand can utilize recruiters and staffing agencies to represent the company, conveying the brand to candidates.
  1. “Company Camp”: Maximize your company’s unique selling points early on in the process. Consider inviting candidates to visit the campus, meet current employees and experience the culture firsthand.

Also in the report are 10 tips for companies to use to appeal to brand-driven candidates:

  • Steer the conversation: Smart companies will demonstrate trustworthy behavior and open, honest communication when potentially negative issues arise;
  • Avoid posting and paying: When posting on social media or employer review websites, do so with frequent and consistent updates. Make sure someone within the HR department is responsible for social media and is executing according to an articulated strategy;
  • Own the content on review websites: Use employer review websites to acknowledge imperfections and talk about the company’s core values. This can reduce long­ term damage to employer brand;
  • Practice what you preach: When meeting with a prospective or current employer, candidates expect a company to live up to the promises it makes. Treating them with respect, keeping them in the loop, and engaging with them honestly throughout the process helps ensure they do not have a negative experience;
  • Watch for new data: In addition to managing conversations on social media, HR executives should watch for a wave of cutting-edge tools designed to help them manage Big Data;
  • Incorporate testimonials: Use photos and videos of employees to animate testimonials, celebrate employees and put a human face on the company;
  • Encourage speaking freely: While some employers have elected to mitigate risk by prohibiting employees to talk about the workplace on social media, savvy companies are encouraging widespread social media use;
  • Live the brand and post about it: Companies not ready to take the plunge of allowing employees to communicate freely on social media can test the waters with internal sites. As a training ground for more ambitious public efforts, consider creating an internal facing social media site where current employees can post photos, videos and messages to demonstrate how they live the brand;
  • Activate employee referrals: Since current employees are the most trusted source of information about a company’s brand and they have first hand knowledge of the company culture and values, they can be an invaluable source for new hires;
  • Arm every employee with the brand message: Transform employees into a mini­-army of brand ambassadors by making sure they understand the essence of the employer value proposition.

“HR professionals who use current employees to serve as ambassadors for the company—both in real life and on social networking sites—tap into the most credible and influential source of information for potential new hires,” said Ms. Donovan. “Those who choose not to utilize these important resources risk being left behind.”

A Focus On Culture

A separate study from Futurestep found that organizational culture and employment brand were seen as ranking highest among more than 1,000 responses to a global survey. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of respondents said that organizational culture was the most important recruiting advantage for global organizations, followed by possessing a leading employer brand at 26 percent.

According to the survey, companies focusing on offering ‘higher salaries’ and ‘promoting quickly’ alone may not be as competitive when recruiting talent, with responses at just six percent and five percent respectively.

“Focusing on culture and how that brand is represented in the marketplace has a critical impact on attracting and retaining the talent that will drive business success,” said Neil Griffiths, Futurestep global practice leader – talent communications and employer brand. “The survey results indicate that employers need to think more broadly about what attracts top talent to their organization.”

A separate Korn Ferry study shows that the top factor that improves people’s feelings about their job is working for a company whose culture aligns with their values. This study found that executives report the most widely used strategy to improve culture is “communications,” followed by “leadership development,” and “embedding culture change in management objectives.” In addition, it found that “improving organizational alignment and collaboration” is the primary reason executives choose to focus on improving culture, followed by “improving organizational performance.”

Unlocking Potential

“Culture is no longer seen as an afterthought when considering the business focus of an organization,” said Mr. Rabinowitz. “Culture is the X-factor. It’s the invisible glue that holds an organization together and ultimately makes the difference between whether an organization is able to succeed in the market or not.”

According to a global study of senior executives by Egon Zehndermounting evidence shows optimal performance comes from the alignment of an executive’s personal values with an organization’s culture and the role’s responsibilities, yet few executives or organizations have made the adjustments necessary to take advantage of this synergy. The report found that only 40 percent of executives said their organization helps them unlock their potential.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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