In the war for talent, the public image of organisations is every bit as important as the personal image of individual workers: that’s the message of the 2019 Employer Branding Insights Report from consultancy Wonderful Workplaces. 
According to the report, which polled 841 jobseekers across a variety of industries, 94% of candidates weigh up an employer’s brand – defined as what its name ‘means’, in terms of values – when applying for jobs. That’s 4% up on the company’s figures for 2016.
Meanwhile, 45% of ‘passive’ jobseekers would apply for a job with a greater sense of urgency if it meant they would be in with a chance of working for an ‘amazing brand’. The findings confirm that the power of employer branding is growing across multiple sectors, as more and more organisations come to understand the importance of highlighting their cultures – as well as their benefits – in order to attract top talent.
However, in the view of 46% of the respondents, employers are not communicating their brands clearly enough.
Wonderful Workplaces senior careers content editor Jennifer Jackson said: “The explosion of content and social media has meant that employers have to be ever more creative in how they target prospective employees, whether it be looking outside their sectors or specialisms, or focusing on transferable skills rather than a restrictive-person specification. Frustratingly, many companies are still continuing to miss out on attracting the right talent – in many cases, because they’re failing to communicate their values effectively.”
Shortfalls in employer branding were also the subject of a recent article from human resources expert Aram Lulla, of the Forbes’ HR Council.  Lulla points out that an estimated 40% of US workers quit their jobs after less than a year – with part of the problem being that the experience of working for certain companies doesn’t match the employer-branding promises that those firms made at the outset of the working relationship.
Lulla notes: “A strong employer brand is the secret sauce not only for talent recruitment, but also for employee engagement and company loyalty – critical factors for business success. Yet many companies focus only on the recruitment part and miss out on the benefits of holistic employer branding.”
What can organisations do to ensure that a clear picture of their values rises above the background noise of the recruitment scene?
The Institute of Leadership & Management head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “We’ve seen a marked rise in what we might call the ‘values industry’ as a subset of branding and marketing, characterised by attempts to link brands to specific, inspirational meanings. But you can’t always control how people understand or perceive your brand, or which values they happen to attribute to it. So I’m wondering whether we’re at one remove from the core issue, here – which is that there are many more ways in which a company can acquire a good reputation in the jobs market.
“For example, are you trying to be inclusive? How do you treat your unsuccessful candidates – do you provide them with constructive feedback and advice that will encourage them in their subsequent jobseeking endeavours? How do people talk about your firm on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other social media? If companies are living their values, then the people who work for them will certainly tell you.”
Cooper notes: “If companies are having recruitment problems, it may not be because they’re failing to pitch their brands correctly. There may be something else more integral to their recruitment strategies that’s preventing those firms from yielding candidates with the desired skillsets.”
She adds: “Interestingly, we at the Institute are conducting some new research on values: how they are understood and perceived; how they are aligned between the realms of the personal and organisational – and, indeed, how they are created. This research is very much a response to the confusion that many organisations currently have over what they should be promoting as their brand when they are trying to show that they’re brilliant employers. So keep an eye on this website for more news on that as it emerges.”
For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on aligning values