Working with so many global retailers I can say it is a fact that most retailers don’t do a great job of employer branding. In my opinion, it’s not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t understand it.
Employer branding is not just how pretty your job ads look, it is so much more than that. In fact, the visual side of it is just the icing on the cake. The process of developing and refining your employer brand can be an invigorating experience and can help outline the culture of the entire organisation.
Whilst there needs to be a strong link between your consumer brand and your employer brand they are by no means the same thing.
When developing your employer brand you need to look at all areas that it will affect:
  • attraction
  • on boarding
  • training
  • retention
  • internal
  • external communications
  • remuneration
  • benefits including incentives
Having a strong employer brand could be the difference between someone joining your company or not, but it should also be the reason someone chooses to stay and grow with your company or why they choose to leave.
See the key that most people miss is that, once you are clear about your employer value proposition (EVP), a huge part of your employer brand is to ensure that you then meet the expectations to existing employees of the promises you make in the market place.
Sounds great but where do I start I hear you ask? Well of course you can contract a consulting firm (and there are some incredible ones with great reputations) however this can end up being hugely costly.
Step 1 is understand what you want to get out of this. Improve culture, reduce staff turnover, change the perception of your brand as an employer ? Once you are clear what your goals are, it’s time top start the research.
Research does not have to be expensive or time consuming. The first research programme is easy and the audience is siting right next to you. Develop an anonymous 360 degree review process with your current team and ask them the key questions about what is good and bad about working for the company, what would engage them more and what they look for when looking to join a company. You can also commence exit interviews or put together forums for people to give feedback in a relaxed environed.
This alone will develop the foundations for the entire program. It is likely you will discover a lot about what drives people to work for you and this can be “exploited” when advertising for people in a cluttered employment market.
If you wanted to take it a step further you could have a brief survey that candidates fill out before and interview or if you work with a recruitment agency you could ask them to run a survey for you as well. If they are a quality firm they will already have information generically on what people are looking for.
Put together a committee and involve stakeholders from all areas of the bushiness. It’s a great way to keep it impartial and get buy in across the business.
The key thing to establish here is the message you want to portray that will build an emotional connection with the job seeker and also to tell existing staff what the brand stands for and how they should be feeling in the business. Key things to consider when putting your employer brand together:
  • • Is it in line with your consumer brand, not contradictory
  • • Does it add up ? Can you actually deliver on this promise – Buy in and regular 360 are a good way to measure this
  • • What does it mean for someone looking to join your business – What can they expect
  • • Packing up your offering into financial and non financial EG car parking, Birthday leave,
  • • Show how you put people first.
Once you have got your package together look at any means of PR highlighting who you are as an employer. Recently Retailworld launched the Retail Employer of the Year Award and the companies who won were the ones that ran an impressive internal campaign asking there people to vote for them, be proud and not afraid to ask your team for support. What better way to demonstrate that you are an employer of choice than winning awards voted for by your team. Lastly once you have a clear message use it across everything and keep it top of mind remember HR is PR.
I was involved in an employer branding process with Toys R Us and the research told us that people expected to have fun at a “toy store”. The company however wanted to be taken seriously, so after a long process working with Employer branding specialist Peter Shean, the employer branding tag line was developed “serious about fun”. This really did speak to the heart of the brand and got the message across. The tag line was then shared across all HR areas – Serious about L&D, Serious about OH&S and was adapted perfectly across all areas.
The bottom line of employer branding is to use it as a fun exercise and a way to get past what you believe about your brand and actually hear what others think.
Too many people have had their head in the sand for too long. If you want to stand out as an employer of choice in a cluttered market place then this is the time to do something about it.
- John Caldwell

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