A Comprehensive Approach to Employer Branding

In today’s workforce, people have many job opportunities to explore. The best performers have a number of options available to them at all times. So, how does a company begin to compete for the best performers needed in their business? Simply stated—although not simply implemented—the answer is through employer branding targeted to the employees needed today and in the future.

Reengineering your employer brand comprises four basic steps:
  1. Corporate Strategy Linkage
  2. Segmenting Targeted Talent
  3. Competitive Positioning With Targeted Candidates
  4. Creating and Implementing Employer Brand Plan
The first step is for any company to have an understanding of what, when, where and how much talent is needed over a selected planning horizon in order to deliver the desired business results. This should be a result of a thorough understanding of each functional strategy and plan that is linked to the overall corporate business strategy and plan. Line executives will need to think through the detailed skills and projected operating budget that will support the skills now, in five years, and so on. The Chief People Office should be able to facilitate this and ensure integration with succession planning processes and candidates already in the pipeline.

The second step is really about understanding the size of your targeted talent pool as part of the overall labor market. Once the evolving size of the talent pool is understood, it can be segmented by generation, skill or other segment identifiers. Given the distinct generational attitudes and beliefs and the availability of data, it is usually used as at least one point of differentiation in an employer branding segmentation scheme. Once you have an understanding of the segments to be targeted, it is then important to create a comprehensive understanding of the needs of each segment. These needs can be captured from exit interviews, employee surveys, industry studies, focus groups and custom quantitative studies. Specific needs to be probed go far beyond compensation, benefits, role and scope; they include culture, work style and impact within a company, just to name a few.

The third step is to gauge candidate perceptions of the company’s employer brand relative to the targeted candidates’ needs. It is critical to understand the current candidate perception of your company, how they perceive other employers of choice and how credible each company is in terms of delivering "aspirational" employer brand attributes. This will provide the input needed to create a plan of action.

The final step is creating the actual brand plan. This is predicated on a comprehensive understating of the priority needs of targeted candidate segments relative to your current and aspirational employer brand attributes. Using this as a foundation, an optimal employer brand that will position your company relative to companies targeting the same candidate pool can be developed. A business plan is developed to assess the steps needed to achieve, communicate and monitor the implementation the attributes to the targeted employee segments. Implementing the plan will require attention across a company since many touchpoints will reinforce or detract from the employer brand perception. Once fully integrated into ongoing operations, proactively driving an employer brand that accurately reflects company culture can be an integral part of any company’s talent acquisition and retention strategies.