Your employer brand story is being told – are you the one telling it?

The talent wars and 'great resignation' are forcing employers to rethink how to best communicate their proposition, writes The Brand Agency head of strategy Matt Popkes.

It’s the era of opportunity for the job seekers. As remote working has become not only globally pervasive but the indefinite norm in many parts of the world, where you live is far less consequential to where you work and who you work for. As such, opportunities for skilled candidates are plentiful, allowing job seekers to be more selective about what to pursue and what team they ultimately join. Time zones notwithstanding, if your profession and skill sets are in demand, you can likely join a team in nearly any city, state or even country of your choosing – without leaving the house.

Beyond simply more job options to choose from, job seekers also have more easily accessible information than ever before on prospective employers, with the ability to look behind the curtain and get first-hand perspectives on what it’s really like to work for a specific company.

The criteria that job seekers use to assess, compare and decide on job opportunities is also evolving. As we debate the actuality and implications of global employment trends like ‘The Great Resignation’, what’s undeniable is that the workforce is more in tune with and cognisant of the impact their experience at work has on their overall quality of life.

Whether ushered in by a global pandemic or not, a large percentage of the workforce seems less willing to tolerate a poor experience at work as an unavoidable trade-off for collecting a pay cheque.

In this dynamic and ever-shifting environment, where attracting and retaining talent is becoming increasingly competitive, taking charge of and refining your employer brand story is more critical than ever.

How do you create what already exists?

Whether created with intention or not, your employer brand already exists. It’s built on the values, behaviours and cultural truths on display in your organisation every day. It’s experienced in the relationships between employees and management, felt in both the biggest and smallest moments. It’s perpetuated in the experience of your employees each and every day and is openly discussed amongst team members, past, present, and future. This collective experience creates a reputation in the marketplace that has massive implications for recruitment and retention – especially in a landscape characterised by more skilled roles than people to fill them.

This reputation creates your brand as an employer and is on display, in detail, through the stories and reviews being told on platforms like Glassdoor by both current and former employees. Make no mistake, this content is increasingly influential to how candidates decide whether or not to take a job.In consideration of this recruitment environment, it’s the responsibility of the employer to proactively explore, understand and articulate the value they bring to their own employees – and tell that story with intention.Get comfortable being uncomfortable

To explore and unpack the employee experience within an organisation and the employer brand that results can be a cathartic and at times confronting exercise. It requires giving a voice to people across the organisation, shining a light on and listening objectively to the highs and lows of their experience as an employee. It requires diving into the recruitment and onboarding experience, the varying day-to-day norms across business units and most importantly, why employees ultimately choose to stay or leave.

It’s within these experiences that the employer brand exists, for better or worse. The better we can delve into and understand these experiences and the intrinsic motivators that bond our team to our organisation, the better we can understand why our people come to work every day. With that understanding, we can weave a compelling and, critically, authentic narrative about why we are an ideal place to work – and proactively put that narrative into the market.

Importantly, the outcome of an employer branding project is not simply to polish the positive aspects of employee experience while glossing over or ignoring the negatives. As important as it is to highlight the great aspects of your organisation and what authentically makes you an employer of choice, it’s equally important to recognise and take measures to address the negative.

As mentioned, the things that make your organisation a hard place to work are already being discussed and influencing the decisions of both current and potential employees. Proactively telling a positive story to jobseekers is critical to recruitment but being transparent about addressing the challenges faced by employees is critical to retention.

The war for talent

The Australian employment market is no stranger to the ‘brain drain’ concept, as skilled workers leaving the country to pursue opportunities abroad is an accepted and at times encouraged social norm. However, as the economy recalibrates following an era of lockdowns and border closures that has brought skilled migration to a standstill, it’s expected that the shortage of skilled workers may be larger than ever before – a challenge with major economic implications. Further, it’s uncertain how the reopening of domestic and international borders, if and when this occurs, will either address or compound this issue. But what is undeniable is talent will be in demand throughout the Australian economy. To have any chance of landing that talent in your organisation, the time to focus on, refine and improve your employer brand is now.

Matt Popkes is the head of strategy for The Brand Agency.


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