Employer branding has been a buzz word in HR since the war for talent in the 1990s, but what impact can a good employer brand have on your company’s recruitment and retention of staff? Will being a destination employer really ensure you can take your pick of the best candidates in the market?

Two-thirds of UK companies are experiencing recruitment difficulties, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) latest resourcing and talent planning survey. The survey also shows attracting and recruiting key staff is the top resourcing objective for eight in ten (79%) of nearly 500 organisations surveyed. All of which pushes employer branding to the forefront of the recruitment consciousness.

Employer branding is essentially the application of techniques learned from traditional marketing which are then applied to people management by HR professionals. However, as the challenges facing the recruitment market continue to change, true employer branding goes beyond the need to attract suitable candidates in a competitive labour market – it is the start of an employment relationship. The CIPD has defined employer branding as ‘a set of attributes, often intangible, that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform to their best in that culture’.

For employer branding to be successful, it must link to the overall HR strategy, the business objectives and incorporate key brand messages. It is an area that can add significant value to a company’s overall business proposition through the recruitment and retention of the best talent in the market.

At Tate, specialist recruiters for premium office support staff, we certainly notice a difference when recruiting for roles in companies that have worked on their employer brand. This investment in how the company is perceived to potential employees pays dividends. This translates to higher calibre candidates applying for these roles, many of whom are already a good fit for the company – saving time, hassle and money for our clients.
Whether you may think you have one or not – all organisations do have an employer brand, it’s just that some of them haven’t consciously promoted it. The benefits of building an employer brand start in much the same way as developing a brand to aid the company in promoting its product or services. Managing the perception of a company, especially during difficult or turbulent times, is essential to alter any negative perceptions that may exist.

Tate’s clients increasingly find that a strong brand can act as a positive psychological trigger in candidates’ minds. It can add value to the recruitment process and reduce wasted time. It can drive advocacy from existing employees, creating ambassadors and drive employee loyalty, when employee retention is so important.

Other clients find that, although they are a great employer, the industry they operate in isn’t appealing to all potential employees. In this case, a recruitment agency can act as an ambassador for the brand and help to show candidates what makes them a true destination employer, thus making a recruitment partner invaluable.

Whether you decide to develop your employer brand yourself, within your marketing department or with outside help, it is important to be armed with information about what life in the organisation is really like and whether it is symbolic of the company’s visions, values and future objectives.

As a recruitment agency there is often an added pressure to reflect our clients’ employer brand as, in many cases, we represent the first point of contact for candidates. We encourage companies to provide an overview of their organisational values and goals as we tend to find that this enables us to attract and select the right calibre of people.

Employer branding is not just about attracting but retaining talent. Clear career paths, transparency of opportunities and rewards are all important, as is the branded visual representation of these. Measuring ongoing engagement with the employer brand is also valuable through regular surveys with key metrics.

With the post-recession pick up lifting spirits in many businesses, there has never been a better time to look at your employer brand and make sure it provides you with the platform that you require for future growth.