Like many essential commodities, talent is in short supply right now. While superficially this shortage is the same as others – in that it’s been affected by inflation, pandemic consequences and an uncertain market – in other senses it is a problem all of its own.
The unique nature of today’s war on talent stems from the fact that raw materials and energy can still be purchased at a higher price, but when it comes to people it’s not just about the money. People care about your brand, and they want to know that their employer has principles, values and objectives that align with theirs.
The risk of being an unattractive employer is clearly on the minds of many businesses, with a recent Protiviti poll finding that the number one concern among executives was talent attraction and retention. Failing to have the right people with the right skills can have numerous knock-on effects, such as not being able to use the latest equipment and tech, not being able to grow by servicing new orders, or seeing vital teams hollowed out by a staff exodus.
Right now, job seekers are looking hard at the options available to them, and so businesses can’t rely on throwing money at the problem to solve it. Investments in HR and recruitment will help, but if the public perception of the brand is obscure, confused, toxic or simply uncompetitive, then the CVs won’t be forthcoming.
Successfully showing candidates that your organisation has personality and a strong company culture is easier said than done. This is especially difficult as, asides from new start-ups, all organisations already have an employer brand out there in the minds of people – whether it’s consciously defined or not.
Controlling this brand and making sure it’s saying the right things to the right people requires analysing what your company is, what it offers and what it’s saying and then asking if they align with what today’s talent wants to see, hear and experience.
This starts at the online shopfront of your firm. It’s not just customers that will be looking at your website, social media profiles and digital footprint, so you need to make sure that these platforms are giving time and space to building the employer brand.
Low hanging fruit can include a fleshed-out recruitment page with videos and case studies from colleagues or social media campaigns designed to get employees engaged and talking about what they’re doing and why.
When done well, these platforms can shine a spotlight on the principles that define your brand by showcasing behaviours and actions that align with your values. For example, if you say that you celebrate success then why not film a high-achieving colleague enjoying some bubbly sent by their manager or if you say that you value personal growth then have a trainee write a blog about what they’ve learned.
When considering what content to share, make sure that you’re covering all the benefits you offer. It can be easy to take for granted advantages and rewards that some potential recruits might be interested in hearing about. Do you offer help with training, relocating or commuting? Are there any interesting perks that set you apart? Is your office location something to shout about? Do you support employees at important times such as when becoming a parent or going through an illness, bereavement or significant life event? If so, then you need to be talking about it.
When assessing the benefits your company offers, remember to keep a close eye on changes in the market and employee expectations. Every business is currently experiencing a perfect example of this, with the pandemic being a catalyst for more agile working models. Most people now expect at least a hybrid working model that provides a better work-life balance. After months and years of being cooped up indoors, many are even on the lookout for highly flexible arrangements that provide opportunities to live and work abroad for extended periods of time.
Once you’ve got your brand saying the right things then think about the recruitment experience and whether it’s encouraging people to apply and to see the application through. Consider personalising job descriptions so that they don’t just talk about what you need but also describe the skills and experience that candidates will acquire. Explain how they’ll be able to grow in the company and outline potential career development paths to prove that you’re willing to invest in them and are going to help them succeed.
After someone has joined, it’s good to capture the reasons behind their choice – as this first-hand testimonial can be used in content such as press releases and talent sections of your website. This will prove that people are working with you because they’ve seen what your brand is saying and it’s matched up to what they’re looking for. News stories that highlight when significant numbers of new joiners have come onboard or which promote hires around relevant events, such as National Apprenticeship Week or National Careers Week, can boost awareness of your great company culture. Prioritising the right sector titles or publications local to your premises will ensure that your messages are in the eyeline of people looking for jobs or a start in your industry.
At every stage of the branding process, remember that this isn’t just a façade. It must be authentic and something that is constantly worked on, demonstrated and articulated if it’s going to be effective. Creating a strong culture backed by well-considered, sincere policies and benefits will pay dividends when your employees become your greatest advocates, sharing stories online and growing the word-of-mouth buzz around your brand.