George Lucas, the director of the iconic Star Wars, created his work based on the concept of fighting between good and evil. This cinematic reference is not that far from business matters. Right now there is a fight for employees and the greatest talents. The times have come when the employer fights for employees by raising "feathers" like a peacock in all its glory.
From time to time, every company wants to be trendy by using some sort of new phenomena, ideas or concepts. This is the case of employer branding, i.e. activities aimed at building a specific image of the employer in the eyes of future employees. The times when hundreds of applications of dream candidates formed towers on the desks of HR departments is in practice long gone. Of course, there are professions where this happens (IT manager, financial architect, JAVA programmer, .NET programmer, Big Data analyst), which does not change the fact that the phenomenon applies to a narrow group of industries. In 2016, the lowest unemployment in 25 years was recorded in Poland, which additionally increased the already existing pressure on employers.
Employer branding step by step
The employer's brand is a kind of image that is created in order to build a certain image of the company in the eyes of current and future employees. In order to build a "legend" of the employer's brand, it is necessary to evoke certain associations in employees. You need keywords or distinguishing marks. Their nature determines whether a given employee will consider applying to our company or not. Among many slogans, such as “a safe and developmental workplace for everyone”, “work for those who value independence”, “an employer for young people”, “every mother will feel special with us”, etc., we should choose the one closest to the organizational culture of our company, organization or institution. There can be no lies in this situation since that would be a road to nowhere. So if we cannot provide competitive conditions, we should not write slogans like "we pay like no one else", "salary is one of the many strengths" etc. Today, employees are aware or how the market works and how adverts are created. They look for authentic values and sense the falseness intuitively.
First thing: get their interest
If you want to attract the best people to your business, you need to stand out. Both on the market and in the industry. It is worth carefully following the activities of the competition. The analysis should take into account the language of communication, the way of the narrative of the message, the aesthetics of messages, signs, and myths, the way of creating a brand history, etc. The so-called benchmarking analysis will be the foundation on the way to developing appropriate - only for your organization - advantages and distinguishing features. Without them, the brand will die in the "mass" of many similar slogans. Moreover, the activities should be tailored to the candidate's profile. Since you know your company perfectly well, you have to wonder who you are really looking for? Building a competency, personality and cultural profile will make it much easier to define the image of the "legend" of your employer brand that will stand out in the future.
Second: don't forget about values
Values such as respect, honesty, transparency, and ethics are very important issues for the youngest generation of employees, according to the study "Generation Y at work and ... about work" conducted by the research agency 4P on behalf of Henkel Polska. Therefore, when looking for directions of development, distinguishing features of our employer brand, it is worth turning towards values. A socially responsible employer builds permanent competitive advantages by creating space for people who focus on these attributes and clearly emphasizes its presence in the minds of over 9 million people from Generation Y (it is worth adding that people born in the age of the baby boom in 1980-1995 are now as much as 40 percent of people of working age).
Third: remember about new technologies
Today, employees are very active in using the Internet and mobile technologies. Virtual communication mixes with the real one. Messenger and social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype or Signal allow you to send text, voice, images, video clips, GIFs. It became the norm for both professional and private life. Therefore, when building a communication strategy for our messages, one should remember about this direction of action. Traditional ways of presenting the employer's brand should be enriched with interesting content in the online world. Multichanneling expands the group of potentially interested recipients. On the other hand, knowing exactly the profile of the future candidate, we should limit ourselves to deliberate "contact points" - both in real and virtual reality. For this to happen, however, we need to know the cultures, subcultures, geographic differences, and general regularities that govern particular specialties, professions, industries, and social groups.
Fourth: don't forget your current employees
Employer branding should also be addressed to our current employees. Each employee can at some point become our best, most reliable and most faithful brand ambassador. Imagine a situation where, in a purely social situation, an outsider makes an inappropriate statement about mobbing, discrimination or other ethically questionable phenomena concerning our company, and our employee defends it consistently and substantively fights these accusations. For this to happen, however, we must treat him as a partner, not an employee's "workman". Loyalty cannot be bought with a high salary. Here, painstaking and conscious work is needed, which should focus on: creating a diverse, open and decent work environment, building a friendly working atmosphere, providing training and development opportunities based on clear criteria, respecting the rights and dignity of every employee regardless of age, gender, religion and status in the company's hierarchy. Our task as an employer is to create such a space and work environment to which our employees will want to come back every Monday.
How they see the best of us
The employer's brand is not only about pretty slogans - although they are a component of the entire system. It is not only beautiful and colorful visual identification (colors, fonts, music, companies, language of communication) - although those things are extremely important. It is, and maybe most of all, people, the atmosphere and culture of the organization. It is the "elusive something" that hangs in the air when you enter a company, organization or institution. You are there for 5 minutes and you know it looks like fun. How can you tell? It is not entirely known. Yet I will say - you do know. This is often the result of work, often a massive type of work, as well as the attitudes of many employees and management. For this result, after just a few moments of being in the company, you work for months or sometimes years. Nobody has a magic wand. It is impossible to make a "snap" and say “it works now”. It is also impossible to buy a ready-made template with good solutions and then implement it as soon as you get your hands on them. The company's organism requires systematic care so that its good reputation grows proportionally with time and commitment. And this is what I wish you dear employees, managers and owners.
I wrote this article for the Polish monthly magazine Przegląd Komunalny