Sonja Ćetković, Director, Poslovi Infostud

Employer Branding – How to Begin

There is talk on all sides about employer branding (EB), and it’s long been clear to you that this is today the most effective way to attract (and retain) high-quality employees. You have also made the decision to finally engage in activities. However, where do you start?

There are three possible approaches that can be led, depending on the resources you have at your disposal and the current situation in your company.

The systemic approach to employer branding

– A systematic approach requires that you have the commitment of the entire company, primarily top management, to deal with the creation and advancement of conditions, a climate and culture in which employees will be satisfied and that will make your company a place where people will want and love to work. This is very important because real change and improvement can only come if the decisions brought at the highest level of the company integrate aspects that show employees that they are respected and important. By entering into such decisions, expectations, processes and practises across the entire company, we actually engage every employee in creating a desirable workplace.

Before any action, it is important to make a diagnosis, in order to find out if, and to what extent, your company is already a desirable place to work and why, or if it’s not then why not.

– In order to determine this, you can use research of the current status of your brand as an employer that exists in our market, but a basic picture can also be given to you by your immediate environment – simply ask around. It would be very useful for you to also conduct employee satisfaction surveys or, again, at least to try to get honest feedback from colleagues regarding what they like about the workplace and what are the main factors of dissatisfaction for them.

When you get this analysis of the current situation, define a strategy and set of coordinated, systemically-planned activities. Focus on improving those factors that most negatively impact on your brand as an employer. That can sometimes be simpler things like purchasing new equipment, unburdening employees by hiring a few new people or introducing more flexible working hours.

The first thing that it’s important to be aware of is that you already have a specific employer brand; that a pulic perception about your company as an employer already exists. This image is primarily built by your employees

When you have your first results, you can define what and how you will communicate externally. Consider who you primarily want to address, where these people move, and with which channels and messages you want to reach them in order to show them that you are a company where it is great to work.

For this purpose use job advertisements, job interviews, employer profiles, social networks, articles on relevant portals, offline activities etc., every relevant point of contact with your target group.

The question that additionally imposes itself is – who will primarily push this story?

– There is often, in practice, a lack of understanding of the role between human resource departments and external communications departments – who should be involved in which stage of employer branding, who should do what, what is the responsibility of whom, and who makes the final decisions.

Given that employer branding is actually a mix of HR, marketing and PR, you can try to create a working group in which the HR department will define goals and content, while the marketing, PR and corporate communications departments will find the best channels and ways to present that content to target groups. The second option is to hire an employer branding specialist who will lead employer branding activities and cooperate on implementation with the noted departments.

 Ad hoc approach

– This is the approach for you if you don’t have sufficient resources to deal systemically with employer branding or if you don’t have a clear commitment of the entire company that it wants to create, advance and promote your company as a great place to work. Don’t be concerned, because even without that commitment you can have a positive impact on employer branding, certainly much better than if you don’t do anything.

The first thing that it’s important to be aware of is that you already have a specific employer brand; that public perception about your company as an employer already exists. This image is primarily built by your employees.

To find out “what’s said about you”, you can use the methods explained in the systemic approach – tools for researching the employer’s brand and employee satisfaction, or by investigating the immediate environment and questioning colleagues from the company. Then you will have the possibility to influence your brand, by discovering:

• the main negative perceptions of your company as an employer that you need to change,

• what makes you good and different from others that you need to communicate and highlight,

• what could you introduce to make your brand more positive and ensure the best employees choose you specifically.

If you don’t have anything to boast about at the current moment, and if negative aspects within the company prevail, call a halt to marketing activities regarding employer branding, as a false image will not bring good effects

You might realise that you’ve taken for granted some things that really mean a lot to employees – and which will also mean a lot to potential future employees. Perhaps it is a fact like employees being able to be absent from work without complicated procedures whenever they have a private situation or obligation, or perhaps them having paid lunch or the possibility of working from home. Note that you provide such things in job advertisements or company profiles on various portals and social networks.

Temporary halts

– If you don’t have anything to boast about at the current moment, and if negative aspects within the company prevail, call a halt to marketing activities regarding employer branding, as a false image will not bring good effects. Work on internal activities that will lead to improvement; to more satisfied employees. With growing shortages on the Serbian labour market, this is the only long-term sustainable way to get to employees with whom you will ensure your company’s growth.

In the end, don’t forget that what you do within the company and how your employees feel is of essential importance. Start improving your situation as soon as possible and never stop. A systemic approach is perhaps demanding, but it is much more fundamental, shifting and improving the entire company, so results are better and more enduring. However, if your current situation doesn’t allow more, start with a little. Even a little is better than nothing.

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