Mercedes is an International HR Consultant working with Small and Medium Companies helping them to build their HR departments and processes. She is also the editor of this blog
Every year studies come out on the companies that people want to work for. They are usually the same, Google, facebook, Linkedin… The reason is usually their great list of benefits for their employees, but that’s not all. It is also about their Employer Branding.
Employer branding has been defined by the CIPD, which is the professional body that regulates Human Resources professionals in the UK as:
“The group of qualities, most of the times intangibles, that make a company different. The promise of a different working experience and that makes a company recognisable amongst current and potential employees and attracts those that are looking for a similar culture”CIPD
Why is Employer Branding Important?
In all my years working as a HR professional, in different countries and for different kind of companies, I have seen that the employer branding is one of the most important aspects of HR ( apart from a well and structured definition of our needs)in order to achieve a good and successful recruitment process.
Most of the times, the company, and its directors, are not conscious of the impression left to their employees, and the worst thing is that most of the times, they don’t even care about it. I have even heard that is just about marketing or corporate social responsibility.
Retention and the time spent for each recruitment should be one of your recruitment metrics, and Employer branding affects those. But also, you need to take care of the Employee Relation Metrics, and if someone comes in with the idea that they will be treated fantastically, they will see things in a positive way. In the opposite situation, if they join despite your bad reputation, they will be alert to discover any small thing you do wrong and say… “I knew I didn’t have to accept this job”
The reason for companies not to care about their employer branding?
“If John doesn’t want to stay here, or he doesn’t like it, we will find someone else”.
I understand that feeling, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you can not deal with how everyone feels, because is that, a feeling. However, we can control whether if we do things right or not.
And it is also true that sometimes, letting an employee go is one of the best options as they will create an uncomfortable situation for everyone. However, this is not the situation in most cases.
Employee rotation is something healthy, and we don’t have to be scared of it, unless it goes to high levels and it affects your costs due to the recruitment costs.
Even though, it is extremely important to keep your cool and good manners until the end of the relationship with an employee. If one of your employees decides to go, or on those cases where you have to reduce staff due to economic reasons, it is extremely important that they have the best possible experience, considering that they have lost or left a job. Some of them may be happy about leaving, but for some of them it may also be a situation of having a higher salary and it has been an emotional fight to decide to leave you
Why it is important to have a good last impression with your employees?
Firstly, it will still affect the internal atmosphere of those who stay with you. And those are even more important than those leaving. Remember that they may have friends internally, and how you behave with their friends it will affect their relationship with you. “Poor John, 15 years working hard every day and look how they treat him… this company doesn’t really care about anyone” and after that comment, they will not make an extra effort to solve any of your problems. “It doesn’t matter how hard I work, look what happened to John”.
Secondly, future clients are everywhere, it could be them leaving to one of your clients and making decisions for them? Would you treat poorly one of your clients? If not, they may also have a relationship with them, and it doesn’t really matter how many confidentiality agreements you may have. If they speak 10 times a day with someone over the phone, they will probably have created friendship relationship. If you fire their friend, they will tend to be open to other suppliers offers, specially if you didn’t treat them well. What do they owe you? they are the client!
Thirdly. The employee leaving has friends, family, university colleagues that meet up for christmas. How was your year john? oh! didn’t I tell you about what happened at my last company…. “ Maybe you don’t think about it now, but people who have worked with them, or study with them may also be your potential candidates. If they hear about a bad experience, how would they feel about applying to a role with you? This may not affect you if your office is in New York where people come and go, but what about places where the available candidate pool is not that big?
How does Employer Branding affect your business?
Let me summarise it with an example. Long time ago, I did a head hunting process for a big company in Europe. This company asked me to look for the perfect candidate within their suppliers and certain consultancy companies that usually worked with them.
After doing the talent map, looked for those who could fit the criteria, I started contacting. To my surprise, when I contacted the top talent within their suppliers, they all say they were not interested. Why? they didn’t want to work at that company, even with a super high salary, fantastic benefit packages, etc… but, is there any reason? 5 of them finally told me. “They are famous in the industry for treating their employees very poorly”.
Obviously I passed that information to my client, and we finally open the role to people outside the industry. However, the company has great difficulty to hire the talent they need, just because they are not an employer of choice.
It doesn’t matter how much you work in writing the perfect job description or advertise on the best career sites and spend tons of money. If you don’t have an strong employer brand, you can have good talent, but if you have a BAD employer brand, it really doesn’t matter if you promote a great candidate experience. It took years to McDonalds and a lot of investment to get rid of the “McJob” concept.
You will probably be thinking, ok, that will not happen to me, I am in control of what happens at my company and I am not going to do anything that happens at my company. My interview process is good, my hiring managers now what they are doing, and job seekers come to us on constant basis. Perfect! just be aware that the worst situations are created when you receive unexpected news.. and is in those moments, when it is difficult to control your emotions and how you behave.
If you know the six degrees of separation you can understand how the reach of something can be higher of what you expect, and this can make your selection process harder, not to speak of the decrease of the employee engagement, making very hard your talent acquisition process.
What to do when employer branding is not right?
This will be another long post, however, the basic thing is to be conscious that your employees have friends, partners, family and neighbours and they speak and share about their life. If your company culture is not positive they will probably share it.
If you are interested in this, you can read more about it in our blog, but I also want to recommend a book about it that I really liked. The Employer Brand: Bringing the Best of Brand Management to People at Work
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