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Employment Branding Study Results:
Attract, Retain, Repel
(September 23, 2008) interbiznet has been preaching the necessity of Employment Branding forever. So, it is always interesting to look a the information put forth by others. Here, one more time is the work of EMERGE International.
Attract, Retain, Repel, what the heck does that have to do with organizational culture and employment branding? That was my exact question back in July 2006. That is when I was first introduced to Rada Advertising, a recruitment advertising firm and we started to explore this very question. At the first meeting between we found that we have the same desire to support organizations in discovering who they really are and transforming that realization into a strength they can effectively utilize in all employee interactions, including recruitment and retention activities.
So we decided to conduct an employment branding study to see if we could answer that burning question - can understanding organizational culture and building an employment brand in the context of culture increase the ROI of recruitment and retention efforts. We invited over 5,000 companies to join us, over 150 companies requested the URL for the study and close to 100 participants completed and submitted their responses and demographic information.
Our study asked 17 quantitative statements about:
2. Responsibility - who owns employment branding
3. How employment branding relates to or integrates with organizational culture
4. Resources spent on employment branding efforts
So what did we find? Eighty-five percent of our participants say "employment branding is important to my company," yet only 49% state that branding is one of the top five strategic initiatives for their company in the upcoming year and only 45% have budgeted dollars to work on their employment brand in 2007.
Unfortunately, this is a typical study response. While a majority of participants see the importance of employment branding, it is not identified as a strategic objective and resources including hard dollars are not dedicated to this activity. So, how employment branding programs viewed: 89% agreed to the statement that "branding provides a competitive edge in our recruiting efforts." Over half of the participants feel they have "lost recruitment opportunities by not creating a definitive brand." Two-thirds feel the brand helps them to attract top talent and 60% feel the brand helps to retain top talent.
The potential that metrics are not being deployed or used to measure branding activities became evident by a low response rate of 35% who agreed with the statement "employees are excited about the employment brand" and a high neutral score of 53%. This may indicate that they may "not know" if the employees are excited or not, because the employees have not been asked. This was also supported in the qualitative section, participants were asked, "What metric do you use to measure the effectiveness of your employment branding efforts?" One quarter of the participants indicated they are in the beginning stages of the branding process, so they really don't have a lot to measure yet. Over half of the participants responded with: We have no specific metric, none present at this time, we don't have any way of measuring this, we are working on developing them and metric, what metric? The remaining quarter of the participants gave us their metric as: Turn over rate, referrals from similar companies, satisfaction index from employee surveys, offer/hire retention rate or time to fill vacancy rates. As you can see, the majority of the participants are either in the beginning stages of measurement or have no mechanism in place to support this type of strategic initiative.
We also asked, "How are you currently marketing your employment brand?" The resounding theme was: company website, personal communications, advertising, employee meetings, community involvement, recruitment and marketing materials. The participants who do use their marketing department, recruitment advertising agencies or recruiting search firms to market their employment brand are conscientious of having alignment in hiring objectives and key messaging. The smaller organizations (under 500 employees) were consistent in that they really have no systemic communication process for their branding efforts. The feedback from some of our international study participants indicated they have an interesting challenge in marketing their employment brand. "It is being marketed in a variety of ways based on the country you are in; there really is no consistent message for the organization as a whole."
Sending the right message is key during execution of your employment brand. Not only does it need to be consistent across all forms of recruitment advertising and communications, but it needs to be consistent through every point of contact with the potential employee from the interview through the on-boarding process and beyond. Developing and marketing an employment brand is no small undertaking, but it can be achieved with support from top management, an in-depth assessment of culture and a recruitment strategy to target your specific demographics. If you are not doing anything to understand and market your employment brand, then your organization will not be able to differentiate themselves from like competitors and will be at a significant disadvantage in winning the war on talent.
A study by The Conference Board identified employment branding as "identity of a firm as an employer." "Branding encompasses the firms values, systems, polices and behaviors in relationship to its employees." In short, it makes it easier for the employee to see why they should remain employed there.
From a cultural perspective, we could say that a company's employment brand is what it stands for, how it is different from other companies and what it will and won't do. If the company was a person, this would be the description of the person who may evolve over time, but has certain core traits that will always remain. So communicating these core traits, values, mission and vision can be a powerful strategy or tool to help you attract, retain and even repel employees.
In conclusion, we felt that we achieved our goal of conducting an exercise that would gather data to test our assumptions about employment branding and if the views of the professionals we serve we on the same page. This activity allowed us to seek out other experts in the field of employment branding and led us to a great amount of articles and research studies that are available on the Internet.
It appears that our fundamental philosophy about employment branding holds true. Branding and culture go hand in hand. Understanding organizational culture is vital to knowing who you are and who you are not in order to build a congruent brand that is consistent and believable. Once this has been achieved, you can then create very powerful, targeted and purposeful recruitment and retention strategies that will support you in your efforts to: attract, retain and repel employees. You can increase the bottom line and ROI of you programs by embracing and deploying these practices. And don't forget the most important step - creating metrics to measure progress and the effectiveness of the brand you create.
If you are interested in participating in the next study scheduled for October 2008 with our partners at Kennedy Information, please let us know by sending us an email at info@(remove this)emergeinternational.com and we will add you to the invitation list.
By Lizz Pellet, CEO - EMERGE International
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