As 2021 ended and 2022 began, I noticed an increase in enquiries across Australia on how to brand your business to appeal to top employees, and how to be visible to them in a highly competitive landscape.
The Great Resignation appears to be happening across industries, even those where staff are especially motivated by an intrinsic sense of purpose and service in the work they do. Employers can no longer rest on their laurels but must do more to stand out and appeal to the best employees. In a Covid-challenged environment, the experience of work has changed significantly, with restrictions on how people work together and deliver outputs, and this needs to be considered in employer strategy too.
For example, in law:
“The combination of lawyers wanting a change, together with law departments expanding with roles they previously hadn’t needed, has created a flurry of recruitment activity in-house.” – The Corporate Counsel Show, Lawyers Weekly January 2022: ‘Why In-House Recruitment is so busy right now’
In working with clients on employer brand strategy, I use several questions to guide their thinking, including:
- Is it easy for prospective employees to get an understanding of what it’s like to work at your organisation? Are you directing the online message (where people will look first!) – e.g. employee stories demonstrating culture, belonging, purpose and enjoyment at work; strong, visible personal brands that demonstrate confident staff and career and personal development opportunities at your workplace.
- How empowered are your staff to be brand ambassadors among their networks? Your staff know others like them; how equipped and motivated are they to represent the brand with enthusiasm? Have you given them opportunities to develop their confidence, clarity, and tools around communicating the brand?
- Does your thinking about employer brand messaging exist in a silo? It is not just the realm of HR; you must have a clear core brand informing all departments and ensuring marketing, HR, admin and wider staff are talking to each other. Everyone needs to be clear on the core brand values and messages, from which your ‘Brand Culture’ and your employer brand stem.
Your central messaging for your Employer Brand should come directly from your culture. In other words, if the culture isn’t right, a shiny wrapping won’t hide that for long! While there may always be areas of culture that need work, it’s helpful to identify areas in which things are going well, in order to develop powerful and authentic brand messaging for recruitment.
For example, your messaging may centre on one or more of the following:
- Career development and leadership opportunities
- Culture and connection at work prioritised
- Purpose and values as central
- Demonstrating up-to-date, fresh approach, moving with the times
- Who belongs: Demonstrating diversity, equity and inclusion
- Clear approach to keeping staff safe: Covid; psychological safety; mental health and wellbeing
- Signalling respect of individual needs e.g. WFH, flexibility in work styles, open communication
Most importantly, for authentic employer brand messaging that attracts and retains the right staff, you must involve your current employees. What do they see as the organisation’s guiding purpose? What values do they think about and try to uphold? What matters to them in their careers and their time at work? What do they feel proud of; what do they feel connected to?
While these are challenging questions, it can be surprisingly simple to start to gain clarity on brand messaging and involve and connect staff – both current and future – in a real way. It begins with structured enquiry and commitment to include everyone in the discussion.