“Employer branding.” As if businesses don’t already have enough on their plates. Now, branding professionals are telling companies that they also need to market themselves to potential employees?! Is employer branding just the latest catchphrase that has worked itself into the industry vernacular or is it a crucial component of an organisation’s overall brand?
So, what exactly is employer branding and why should Barbadian businesses even care about it? Simply put, employer branding is the process, or set of processes by which an organisation promotes itself to potential employees as being an employer of choice and a great place to work. By extension, an employer brand is the reputation which the organisation has as an employer.
As companies fight to remain competitive in a persistently challenging economy, there is a growing realisation among business leaders that their company’s growth potential is intricately tied to its ability to attract and retain high-performing employees. Organisations that are able to find and keep the best talent have a better chance at remaining competitive and performing well in the global marketplace. On the other hand, an organisation that is unable to attract (and retain) top-tier talent may find itself losing ground to its competitors. In summary, an organisation’s profitability is directly impacted by the quality of talent it can attract and retain.
This is where a company’s employer brand comes in. A company with a strong employer brand will likely be able to attract the top talent it needs to remain competitive. Of course, the strategy of hiring the best available talent isn’t new. For quite some time, organisations have recognised the importance of having a strong reputation that helps encourage high-performing individuals to knock on their doors. The term “employer branding” was first used back in the 1990s and is now widely used across the globe by management teams and branding professionals. As progressive business leaders recognise that their employer brand can have an impact on their ability to be competitive in the market, the term is increasingly working its way into the boardroom and into conversations with organisations’ marketing teams, their HR Departments and their branding agencies.
If you are a leader in your organisation and you think you need to start paying attention to your employer brand, here are a few points to consider:
- You already have an employer brand (whether you like it or not)Barbadian employees have never been particularly shy about talking about their work environment – especially if their company culture is divisive, disrespectful or distasteful. Like it or not, your employees are likely telling their family and friends about their work environment. Chances are that at least some of your employees may be taking to social media to vent about how their day was, or how their boss treated them this week. And those that aren’t tech-savvy still have numerous opportunities to vent offline about their working environment. As your reputation spreads, all this can have an impact, either positively or negatively, on your employer brand.
- Your employer brand has an impact on the talent you can attract
As noted earlier, organisations that are known for poor corporate cultures or poor working environments may find it challenging to attract the top performers needed to build a profitable organisation. It is more likely that such employers will be left with a candidate pool of their industry’s lowest performers to choose from. Not exactly an inspiring thought!
- Your employer brand is dynamic
Just because you have a great employer brand today, doesn’t mean that you’ll have a great employer brand tomorrow. Unless you continually find ways to keep your employees engaged, or if you allow your company culture to become divisive, your employer brand could easily break down. Just as a company must work hard to cultivate its consumer brand, it must also work hard to cultivate its employer brand.
- Your employer brand affects your consumer brand
Speaking of consumer brand, the way you treat your employees will most definitely have an impact on the way in which your employees treat your customers. It is unrealistic to think that unhappy, disengaged employees will deliver the outstanding customer service that your business needs to thrive. As the saying goes: “Your customer experience will never exceed your employee experience”. If your employees are frustrated because they operate in a poor working environment, they will pass that frustration on to your customers. And that’s not good for business.
- You’re not the only one vying for the best talent
Even if you’ve got the most technically competent team on board right now, but your team members feel that their talents aren’t appreciated, or if they feel that there is no clear path for growth and development at your company, they may not stick around for very long. They may even be enticed by your direct competitors.Also, consider this: you aren’t only competing with employers on your home turf. Barbadians have a history of looking beyond our own shores for employment opportunities. By some estimates, in the early 20th century, nearly 20,000 Barbadians migrated to Panama to work on the Panama Canal. Thousands of others migrated to other Caribbean territories and to UK in search of better opportunities. Seeking employment overseas is a part of our business culture and the practice still exists today.
Today, your employees still have the option to seek employment overseas. Most Caribbean territories are just a hop and a skip away by plane, and it isn’t unheard of for Barbadians to seek employment elsewhere in the region – or beyond.
- You can’t buy your way to a great reputation
Businesses simply can’t buy a great reputation by paying their employees high salaries. A great deal of research suggests that paying employees premium salaries does not automatically motivate employees to be committed to their organisation (or to speak highly of the organisation).
It is very possible for an employer to end up having highly paid workers who are also highly disengaged. This doesn’t mean that remuneration isn’t important to employees – it just means that it isn’t the only factor.
Best-selling author Daniel Pink, in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” gives some pretty fascinating insights into the topic of motivation. It’s a great read for employers seeking to understand the factors are likely which motivate their teams.
- It’s never too late to start working on your employer brand
There’s a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now”. If your company’s culture isn’t where you’d like it to be, you can start working on it right away.
If your company’s overall business strategy involves finding and keeping the best talent, having a strong employer brand is definitely an asset. If you’ve made a decision to focus on your corporate culture and on your reputation as an employer, but you’re unsure where to start, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. While the call to turn around your company culture must come from the highest levels of your firm’s leadership, you can rely on experienced HR or management consulting firms to help you address issues that may stand in the way of having high levels of engaged employees. You can also reach out to a branding agency that can help you communicate your strengths as an employer and can help you entice top talent to your organisation.