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Employer brand - the race to attract talent

Identify Finance Recruitment

Aston Martin, Amstel, Amazon- these are a few of my favourite brands- and that’s just the A’s. The practice of companies creating brands for themselves has been with us since the industrial revolution. Businesses have become so good at it that we no longer need to see their name to know exactly who they are: a blue bird flapping its wings? Too easy, it’s Twitter of course. 2 golden arches? It’s the masters of fast-food McDonalds. A jolly fat man in a red suit? Well, it could be a Greek bishop in Asia Minor secretly giving gold to help a father with his daughter’s wedding dowries, or alternatively… it’s a certain Mr Claus, who’s here to tell you that “holidays are coming”. Marketing is a giant of an industry, with $630 billion expected to be spent globally in 2024*.

There’s a certain niche of branding that is experiencing its very own boom. One that doesn’t focus at all on a company’s customers. It is of course the employer brand. One of the most cliched quotes in business circles is Richard Branson’s “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. But, like many cliches, it also happens to be true. In the battle for talent, companies have increasingly focused on how they can make their employees feel trusted, valued and empowered, and equally how they get that message out to their prospective employees. Let’s look at 3 examples of great employer branding and the lessons that can be learned for businesses of all sizes.

Google

Ok, let’s start with the obvious. Through decades of focused work, Google has established itself as one of the leading employer brands. Whilst yes, I’ll concede that as one of the few businesses whose share price has consistently risen over the past decade, Google hasn’t been short of a dollar or 2 to spend on their employer brand, some of their core practices can be adopted by almost any business.

They proudly display employee benefits on their website. Everything from the traditional: healthcare benefits and pension plan, to the onsite gyms and generous matching of charitable donations. On Glassdoor.co.uk employees constantly leave positive reviews, often mentioning the excellent food provided on site. Having recruited for a few companies now who focus on providing their employees with top notch meals, I can tell you that food is very much the way to employees’ hearts.

Google constantly push their employer brand, whether that be their Life at Google pages on Facebook and Twitter or even a Hollywood picture- 2013’s The Internship in which Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson literally star in a 2-hour advert for working at Google.

 

Takeaways

What can your business learn and implement from Google’s pave making approach to creating their employer brand? Ok, so onsite gyms and commissioning of films are off the budget for most businesses. But, for those of us with a more modest bank balance, there’s still one major lesson to be had. It’s not enough to create a working environment that your employees love. To create an employer brand that beats your competition you need to market it. This can be done for free through the leading Social Media sites- Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You don’t have go into specifics in terms of monetary value, but tell your prospective employees what your benefits package focuses on. Get written reviews or videos from your current employees that tell the real story of what it’s like to work at your company and more importantly, what keeps them working with you.

Nando’s - A Glassdoor story

As well as the generalist social media sites there’s also Glassdoor, a website specialising in reviews of jobs and company culture. On it, employers are able to offer an insight into their company and employees are able to leave reviews and details of their salary and benefits package. Glassdoor has become hugely popular over the past decade and is central to many companies’ strategy for improving their employer brand.

One of the biggest success stories is the all famous piri piri chicken chain, Nando’s. Their CEO was the top rated in 2018 by employees and currently 87% of their staff say that they would recommend their role to a friend. So how do they do this? After all, they operate in a sector that isn’t known for its employee satisfaction with low salaries and long working hours commonplace. Having scrolled through many, many reviews here are the common highlights:

  • Free food- remember it’s the way to an employee’s heart!
  • Family feel- a supportive culture with team bonds that are built on socialising and team building days. The support of management is often brought up too.
  • Flexible hours- if you think this can be difficult in an office setting, it’s a whole different story in hospitality, but Nando’s have put a focus on making it work!
  • Career progression- Reviews frequently highlight progression. Many employees don’t see grilling and serving chicken as a dead-end job at Nando’s, instead it’s just the beginning of a career ladder that can offer them plenty of opportunities in the medium to long run

Takeaways

I’m sure the list above is one we’d love to see written about our own businesses. So how can you optimise your Glassdoor page and encourage your employees to leave glowing reviews?

  • Encourage your employees to leave reviews- after all, if you don’t ask you don’t get. I used to work for a company who were very good at this. They’d hold meetings for all the staff, raise concerns, praise particular employees for achievements that quarter and then ask everyone to leave a review on Glassdoor. Needless to say, after a lot of positive reinforcement, many glowing reviews were uploaded.
  • Always respond to reviews- responding to a review is an easy way to make an employee feel acknowledged. You’ve enabled them to have a voice. It’s also a great signifier to everyone that you’re an employer who cares about their employee’s opinions. This has to be done, whether the review is positive or negative. Always be constructive too- it can be easy to go on the defensive against a negative review, but this will do more damage than good.
  • Act on reviews- Like many things in business, the benefits of Glassdoor can be cyclical. If you take note of what your employees are saying in their reviews (particularly if you’re a larger organisation and can see trends) and act on these. You can make your employees aware through general meetings that you’re taking action on their complaints or even building on what they particular love about working for you. By doing this, you’re more likely to receive positive reviews and the cycle continues.

Vitality - Britain’s healthiest workplace campaign

The health insurance company have led a very comprehensive campaign to find and celebrate the UK’s healthiest workplace. In their marketing material, Vitality stresses the correlation between the good health of employees and productivity, which is all true. However, I believe the no.1 motivation for businesses taking part in this campaign is to boost their employer brands. The general population are becoming more and more health conscious which has been given a turbo blast in the past year by the pandemic. Looking after your employee’s health becomes central to creating the family feel that Nando’s employee’s so often talk about.

In Vitality’s report, companies who have been successful in implementing this have offered the following to their employees:

  • Support for remote working (admittedly, up until 2020 this probably sounded a lot more impressive!)
  • Health portal (centralised access to their employee health benefits)
  • Gym and fitness class memberships
  • Mental health first aid training

Takeaways

Again, it can be tempting to think that these kinds of initiatives are just for the domain of corporations, something SME’s can’t afford. Luckily, this isn’t true. Many of the applicants to Vitality’s campaign have between 20 – 250 employees. Lots of health initiatives are free and only require your time and effort. Walking and nutrition challenges are great ways to bring your teams together and also give them some time away from the stresses and strains of their day-to-day work. For those who are able to invest some money towards their employee’s health and wellbeing, there are lots of very affordable plans covering everything from health check, nutrition and even flu vaccinations.

My 3 tips for creating a great employer brand

  1. You can’t fake it. You have to create a space that is genuinely great for employees. Your brand has to be built around shared purpose, openness and the ability to listen and change
  2. You have to market your brand. Whilst it’s great to create a business that is fantastic for its employees, if you don’t tell anyone about it, the message won’t spread very quickly. In short, make sure you have a social media strategy that engages both your current employees and future recruits.
  3. Being proactive in your employee’s health pays dividends

Oh and…

  1. If you can feed your workforce great food, they will never stop telling their friends about you.

Identify Finance Recruitment help their clients consistently hire the top 10% performing finance professionals in the West Midlands. If you would like support building your finance teams and attracting the very best talent in finance, just get in touch with us on 0121 429 8962 or Dan@identifyfr.co.uk

*According to www.statista.com

Dan Hayes
Identify Finance Recruitment