In anticipation of WilsonHCG's 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employer Brands report (set to be released at the beginning of 2018), we felt it highly relevant to explore hot buttons leaders across the globe have been experiencing – including the ways in which they're overcoming. Specifically, employment branding is a unique, ever-present challenge; strategic efforts in this area facilitate customer and business partner growth, candidate funnel expansion and employee engagement, which thereby incites greater workforce retention and performance.
Many companies strive to establish and promote their brand to achieve these goals, but in the same vein many are yet still challenged trying to transition brand strategy from aspiration to reality. As you continue planning for 2018 and undergo your 2017 retrospective, it's integral to evaluate the various business-impacting elements that make up your brand – including the “business” need for transparency and authenticity in the midst of ever-present change to achieve greater ROI.
To further explore this hot button, and ways in which industry leaders are overcoming the challenge, WilsonHCG recently held a conference with various partners and peers centered around the current and future state of employment branding. The leaders and companies in attendance put their heads together to develop eight steps to optimize your employment brand, achieve buy-in at the executive level, and ultimately unite talent strategy in a way that moves your business into and beyond 2018.
During the event, a director of talent acquisition shared her organization’s talent and brand story (a "best place to work" software/IT company with more than 12,000 employees across 130 global locations). According to the director, the company’s talent acquisition function has a “seat” at the executive table as a result of their talent strategies that are driving business performance.
She also explained that the challenge isn't necessarily achieving buy-in for employment branding efforts, but rather getting each party to “live and breathe” the brand. Candidates, employees and business partners know your brand, and they will likewise recognize disingenuous, fake representation of it by your workforce. Coaching leadership and brand ambassadors in this area, its importance and how to represent your company authentically, is critical.
Before employment brand efforts can begin, the strategy first needs to be defined. Answer the following questions: what challenges need to be overcome, what goals are we trying to achieve, and who is our targeted audience? In brief, define what will indicate success and failure of your campaign(s) (e.g., more robust talent communities, higher retention or improved external perception, to name a few examples), then begin the effort.
As of early 2017, Facebook has nearly 1.9 billion active users, LinkedIn has 467 million users and Twitter has approximately 317 million active users. However, Instagram “dominates” when it comes to interactions per 1,000 followers (between 50-70), including 600 million active users overall. Ultimately, what this means, social media is the third most leveraged source for quality hires, just below employee referrals (which often happen via social media) and job boards (of which social media platforms technically are). Develop your strategy, get on social media, and strive daily to authentically build your presence, both internally and externally.
Don’t just push out content; think strategically about who you’re trying to reach and what response or action you’re trying to gain. Build timely, relevant campaigns around hot button issues and region-specific trends. For example, in addition to the research shared in No. 3 above, the use of LinkedIn company pages grew by 33 percent in 2016. LinkedIn is free, easy to use and, today, synonymous with recruitment and brand ambassadorship. Follow other pages, take out targeted ads, and strive to build talent communities that keep “warm” (engaged, coming back for more) active and passive talent. If you don’t yet have the financial budget to build ad campaigns, at least be certain you’re investing the time to achieve positive change.
“When I walked in we had a budget of zero ... We did research, research and more research on what [social media] mentions to use, what hashtags to use, how to make our social media channels grow, and what content resonates with people.”
-Global Employment Brand Leader, Fortune 500 organization
Thought leadership is appreciated and often sought after. All people – candidates, employees and business partners – seek credible insight from credible sources. Share exciting events and campaigns taking place at your organization, but beyond that share interesting content from external sources, thought leaders and industry peers. This can start two-way conversations, establish your organization as a go-to for important content/research, and shows all audiences that your efforts go well beyond self-serving.
As with No. 2 above, deep dive into your talent acquisition challenges – can they be solved with more engaging, accurate job descriptions, do they relate to a poor social media and online presence, are your compensation offerings far below market value causing both active and passive candidates to turn away? Evaluate the current state of your talent strategy, then explore steps to overcome; from here, integrate and align these talent strategies with your overarching employment brand efforts.
The marketing and talent strategy lines are continuing to blur. According to one global employment brand leader we spoke with, from a Fortune 500 organization, “Companies will start to respect employment brand as much, if not more, than company or consumer brand. Business leaders are going to realize employment brand has a great impact not only on finding and keeping top talent in order to have and provide the very best products and services, but also … it's important to realize ‘If I don't take care of my employment brand, my corporate brand doesn't mean a thing.'"
Companies need to partner with marketing to tell their employment and consumer brand stories, to make certain go-to-market strategies are aligned organization-wide, and to achieve maximum outreach.
“If candidates see positive employee and candidate experiences on review sites or in communication with peers, they feel more confident submitting their resume and making a career move.”
-WilsonHCG 2017 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands Report
At one Fortune 500 company, talent acquisition sees upward of 15 touches before a candidate applies. Companies need to figure out what 15 touch points make the most difference in a candidate’s decision (e.g., referrals, job boards, benefit exploration, culture, compensation), what the most enticing points are that draw candidates in, and what compels them to reach out. Uncover the touch points and measure them to show leadership the business impact of brand efforts, and to show employees the win-win behind becoming a brand ambassador.
At WilsonHCG, in early 2018 we will be releasing our 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands report. We have delved deeply into the strategies undertaken by all Fortune 500 organizations and spoke with a number of industry leaders at these organizations; throughout the report, we will reveal trends impacting the future of employment branding and recruitment – such as candidate and employee engagement, career pages and recruitment marketing – to provide the best practices you need to align your talent strategy with the greater business ecosystem.
Pre-Register for the fifth annual WilsonHCG Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands report and be first to receive exclusive access upon publication!
Wilson Human Capital Group, Inc., (WilsonHCG) is a global leader in innovative talent solutions that operates on the principle of providing true partnership to our clients. Through our highly configurable Talent Ecosystem™ model, we transform the talent function into a strategic advantage. At WilsonHCG, the relationships we develop lead to the results our clients realize. Better People, Better Business.®