Employer branding has become critical to the success of businesses that are hiring technical staff due to the fact that businesses are still facing a very challenging hiring environment, especially when looking for technologists. In early 2022, the overall unemployment rate was 4% while the rate for tech workers was 1.7%-- both extremely low numbers. In a lot of cases, there are very few candidates available to fill many of the technical job openings in today’s economy. Not only that, 41% of employees are likely to actively look for new opportunities over the next 12 months, according to Forrester’s Employer Branding Is Marketing’s New Frontier. So, we can see that businesses are still up against the “great resignation.”
Employer branding is key because it allows companies to generate brand awareness for potential job candidates and position themselves as an employer of choice. Earlier research by LinkedIn showed that “companies with a weaker employer brand report a cost per hire that is almost double that of companies with a strong employer brand.” In addition, strong employer branding results in a 28% reduction in staff turnover.
In 2019, Lippincott found that companies that have employees that feel
- a strong connection to the company,
- a sense that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and
- empowered to support the company’s mission and values
- dramatically outperform the competition in terms of growth and resilience with a 25% higher revenue growth.
Bottom line– there are strong business justifications for having a best-in-class employer branding program to help your organization attract, hire, and retain top technical talent.
Best Practices for Successful Employer Branding
Let’s dive into the top 7 best practices for developing successful employer branding.
1. Marketing Should Play a Key Role
Employer branding is, at its core, a marketing driven function. It mirrors the traditional company branding process of building awareness, converting prospects to customers, growing the relationship, and driving advocacy over time. In the case of employer branding, of course, we are dealing with job candidates and employees rather than sales prospects and customers. But the overall process is the same.
Marketing brings expertise in developing target personas and messaging that resonates with the target audience. Marketers are also skilled at driving conversions from prospects (job candidates) to customers (employees).
Employer branding commonly rolls up to HR but may also reside in the marketing organization. Where it sits in the organization is less important than understanding that marketing and HR must work closely together on this initiative. You need the expertise of both functional areas to be successful.
2. Address the Full "Employee Journey"
The EB process must extend throughout the full lifecycle of an employee– from job candidate, to employee, to company advocate as an alumnus of the company. It shouldn’t be limited to just the talent acquisition phase, which is common in companies where EB is HR-led.
Consulting services organizations, like McKinsey & Company, leverage their extensive alumni network to bring in new business, for example.
3. Improve Employee Experience (EX) to Drive Great Customer Experience (CX)
Happy and motivated employees deliver better customer experiences (CX). And better CX drives higher sales. Major brands, such as Best Buy, understand this and use employer branding to improve EX which, in turn, drives competitive advantages.
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report (2017) found that “companies with highly engaged workers report 20% higher sales.” They also found that engaged workers are more productive. Higher productivity typically equates to lower costs and higher profits. So, not only are you driving more sales with a strong EB program, you’re likely to deliver higher profits as well.
4. Develop a Strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
A common approach to employer branding as it relates to technical talent acquisition is to focus on defining a strong employee value proposition (EVP). This aligns with the view that the employment relationship is an “exchange relationship.” The company provides salary, benefits, and perks in exchange for employees’ work. A good EVP attracts and retains top talent.
A strong EVP for software engineering could include the following:
- Competitive Compensation and Benefits
- Exciting Development Opportunities
- Respectful and Trusting Management
- Modern Technology Stack – the Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey provides valuable information on this
- Work – Life Harmony
It’s important to actively market your EVP to your target technical audience to attract the talent you need.
5. Tie Your EVP to an Emotional Connection
It’s not enough to just have a strong EVP. You must also have a strong emotional connection between your employees and the business. The employee – company relationship is more than an exchange of salary and benefits for work accomplished. It’s much more complex than that.
Exaqueo has defined a new Employment Relationship Model that has four dimensions:
- The relationship with my organization: who employs me? This aspect of the relationship is based on trust.
- The relationship with my leaders: who governs my work? This aspect of the relationship is based on mutual respect.
- The relationship with my co-workers: who do I work with? This one is based on value.
- The relationship with my work: what I do and how I do it. This one is based on care, i.e. do I care about my work and my customers.
Work should ideally be both an exchange relationship and a “communal relationship” where there is concern for the other’s welfare.
6. Align Your Employer Brand with Your External Brand
Even though EB is targeting a different audience with a different objective (hiring and retaining the best talent), it’s critical to align EB with your overall branding. There is only one brand for the business, but it has multiple facets.
7. Amplify Authenticity with the Voice of Your Employees
Authenticity in employer branding is incredibly important, especially when targeting the tech community. This is where leveraging the voices of your employees plays a key role. “Candidates trust the company's employees 3x more than the company to provide credible information on what it's like to work there.” And understanding what it’s like to work at the company is one of the biggest challenges facing job applicants. Use your employees’ voices to help tell your story.
A strong employer branding program is critical not only to achieving your technical talent hiring objectives, but also to improving revenue growth and profitability. Seventy-five percent of job candidates consider a company’s brand before applying for a job. Make your business stand out by following these 7 best practices. Deliver world class employer branding targeted to developers, and other technologists, with Stack Overflow.
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