Why Employer Branding is Worth the Investment
Ever have a conversation with that guy who tells you he works for a company that you don’t recognize? May be a little awkward with the blank stare you send back. It’s usually much easier to continue the conversation when he responds with a very recognizable company name. You may make an immediate association with the company and its brand, and comment that you think he has a pretty fun job with a pretty cool company.
But you don’t see the twinkle in his eye when he talks about his job or the company. It’s evident that he doesn’t have the same perception as you.
That would be an example of someone who is not buying into the employer’s brand, even though the image of the company to the consumer appears to stand for something much greater. For a brand manager or human resources professional, that’s not so much fun.
Just as branding defines a company to consumers, it also defines the organization to its employees and job candidates.
Employer Branding Promotes Passion
Employer Brand International recently posted results of a survey of more than 3,000 organizations that showed that even though economic uncertainty remains, companies believe that investing in employer brand strategy is worthwhile. Almost 60 percent of respondents said they were planning for a growth phase in 2014 and that 39 percent were going to increase their investment in employer brand strategy.
A post on the company’s website says that it’s important for companies to communicate to employees about branding because it betters the opportunity for employees to connect emotionally with the organization. By doing so, employees are more likely to be passionate about the organization and its products and services.
Corporate Personality Helps Attract and Retain Employees
Margaret Plummer, vice president, employee development at Camden Property Trust, said employer branding is just as meaningful as connecting with consumers. Houston-based Camden places a high emphasis on creating a work environment that is just as much fun to work in as it is for the residents to live.
“It’s about promoting a corporate personality to attract or retain employees who will reflect that personality out in the field,” Plummer said at November’s National Multi Housing Council OpTech Conference in Dallas. “At Camden, we’re a fun company. That’s part of our identity, and we love telling people we’re a fun company. Telling others also serves as constant reminder to employees of what’s important at our company, so that they can emulate that behavior when they’re (interacting with) all of our residents.”
The benefits of effective employer branding go beyond employee-resident relations. Plummer said that research shows that the cost per hire for a company with a strong brand is two times lower than for a company with a weak brand.
The company that invests in promoting of who they are will attract those candidates who will best represent the company and its mission.
“You’re going for a fit,” she said. “You want to attract the person who will fit within your brand because they will stay and grow with you.”
Evaluate Brand Perception through Employee Feedback
Plummer said that companies should go directly to employees to understand how they feel about the company brand. If the brand does not come across authentically to employees, then it will be rejected, and it’s better to know that sooner than later.
She recommends that companies create a survey and be open to the information they receive, and then create a plan of action based on the responses. Also, generating and spreading a buzz about the company brand will prompt employees to circulate the message, which could ultimately result in future strengthening of the team with like-minded job candidates.
”You have to listen to every word that people say,” Plummer said. “To develop that brand, you want to look for the commonalities in what (employees) are saying.”
At least once each year, Camden reminds employees of its brand and asks for feedback. Occasionally, some of the responses won’t support the company brand, which gives cause for review.
One such poll a couple of years ago revealed some startling results about how employees viewed Camden’s extensive charitable efforts.
“We were rated kind of low in community involvement, yet we knew we were doing tons, tons of charity projects across the country,” Plummer said.
Marketing soon teamed with the human resources department to change the perception. Now, each year Camden has a month dedicated to Camden Cares, a branded campaign that details how involved the company is with its charities.
“You have to be open and welcome to the information.”
Persistent Employer Branding Pays Off
A company that cares for its employees will transcend into a positive brand experience for its residents, Plummer says. Camden, which touts on its website that 94 percent of employees would recommend the property to their friends, views employer branding as on ongoing effort.
Getting that buy-in requires utilizing a number of communication resources all year long – including company newsletters and social media – for Camden to accurately represent its brand to employees, as well as job candidates.
“It’s something that is rolled out on a continuous basis,” she said. “I think companies are getting better at doing that, that they control their brand to their employees. I think companies are getting smarter about recognizing the importance of their brand as it relates to employees.”
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