Words by Kari Owers, Managing Director
It’s a war on talent out there, and whilst most businesses focus their effort on winning new customers, the real battle lies in attracting the best employees to help their business grow and be successful. Employer brand strategy takes the principles of marketing communications, but looks through the lens of recruitment and retention of people rather than customers.
At O we are specialists in brand storytelling, a strategy that works particularly well in an age of ‘social sourcing’, where your future hires are checking out your company online long before they decide to change jobs.
Recently our team held an Employer Brand workshop for the Entrepreneurs’ Forum on how to design a magnetic employer brand strategy.
So, what’s your story?
The power of social storytelling allows you to open up the doors of your company and let people in, to look around and meet your team, hear about your purpose and values and see what life might be like if they worked for you.
Getting this right requires creativity, and always starts within. We start by asking you to tell us your story, who started the company (and why), what has your journey been, where are you heading and how do your people shape that?
If we take millennials as a key audience (apparently by 2025 they will make up 75% of the workforce), we need to understand where they find out about your company long before they apply for a job.
68% of millennials will check you out on social media, way before they even reach the carefully crafted job advert on your website or jobs board.
They will be looking for evidence of your purpose, career development opportunities, flexibility and a diverse workforce. Dubbed the ‘giving generation’ they are looking for somewhere they can really make a difference, and your company should evidence that you live and breathe these benefits.
With so many opportunities to post content on social media, where do you start? By choosing the format that allows you both to tell a story and get the best ROI for your effort – video.
There’s a lot of inspiration out there – from telling the story of your people through their life story like the Netflix #SheRules campaign, to creating fun videos or initiatives that make you stand out like Brewdog’s puppy parental leave. Video marketing doesn’t need to cost the earth – but should always be creative in the story it tells and reflect your brand well.
Your employees are absolutely your main channel for new recruits so look inwards rather than outwards when considering how you can grow your team – they have valuable peer-to-peer relationships which you can tap into which will help you significantly when it comes to recruitment.
Likewise, everyone is a publisher these days, so how can you harness this and use your employees and their connections to your advantage? Are you giving them a reason to post content about your business? How can you engage them to do this? This begins at the recruitment stage – does this employee even share the same values as you?
Just like any content marketing strategy a customer persona allows you to target the right message in the right place, so consider what ‘brand character’ your ideal employee is – what does this mean in terms of what their values, interests and lifestyle looks like?
Don’t just go by age when targeting messages, values-based personas help you create something they will care about and ideally like and share. You could even go as far as giving them a name, family, interests and imagined career pathway – it really helps you align your brand story with their life and passions.
Strong leadership and a clear direction of travel will ensure they feel they are on a journey with you, as will giving them their ‘share of voice’. Consider which parts of the business different people in your team could lead on independently, so they can help drive some of the journey for you – ideally an area they feel passionate about. A share of voice can be as simple as having a company blog which staff can contribute to, or contributing to your company’s social channels and the content you are putting out there.
Culture, health and wellbeing are all buzzwords of the moment but they are so relevant in today’s workplace and job market and certainly non-negotiables for graduate job seekers.
Clear and consistent communication is essential; your people are your best advocates so make sure you understand what makes them tick! Spend time with them, listen to them and open yourself up for feedback – however formal or informal they need this to be – but be sure to act.
Giving your people ownership and autonomy will naturally give them a sense of pride in working for you and this can only have a positive impact on your customers, as will staff recognition, because if people are happy and succeeding in their work, why wouldn’t they sing the praises of their employer to the outside world? Here is where having a not-for-profit making purpose can play a key role, as will having a clear CSR strategy, which is increasingly becoming a non-negotiable for people moving into a new role. Are you giving your people something to share and be proud of?