Dear Workforce How Do We Develop an Employment Brand?

My employer wants to embark on an employer branding exercise to attract potential employees. How do I go about doing this and what does it entail? <i>&#8212;In the Dark, senior manager, human resources, manufacturing, Pahang, Malaysia</i>

September 7, 2011

Dear In the Dark:

Historically, an employer branding exercise meant calling in your advertising agency to conduct a brainstorming session to develop a new slogan. Thanks to the increasing competition for talent, this discipline has evolved into a much more sophisticated process. Branding isn't just about slogans, logos and design; it's about defining what's known as your "employment value proposition," or EVP, and developing a focused communications campaign with your target labor market. So where do you begin? It all starts with your EVP.

The EVP is the collection of attributes that people value in an employment relationship. Generally, there are five main categories of attributes that drive an individual's satisfaction with their employer: the organization's success and reputation, rewards and compensation, development and advancement opportunities, work/life balance and, most important, the quality of the people who work there.

There are two main requirements for initiating an effective employer branding effort. First, you need to understand what attributes in each category of the EVP are most important to your employees and the people you are trying to attract. This can be determined by conducting surveys or focus groups involving employees and job seekers.

Identify the top five to 10 attributes that employees (and prospective employees) rank as important. Against this information, you will need to determine how well your organization delivers on those attributes.

Typically this information also is collected using surveys or focus groups. Once you have this information, compare the desired company attributes with the actual attributes conveyed by your organization. In effect, you are now able to conduct a gap analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

For example, you may discover that your target labor market has ranked work/life balance as a top five attribute; however, your organization ranks low in delivering a work/life balance (weakness). You may also discover that development and advancement opportunities are very important, and you rank high in this area (strength). This is common in fast-paced, high-growth organizations.

The next step is to apply what you've learned about your company's strengths and weaknesses, and decide on the message you want to send to those you are recruiting. Here is where you should engage your communications department or advertising agency for creative expertise.

Your messaging must be accurate and truthful if it is to have credibility. Don't sell work/life balance if your company cannot deliver it.

Developing an employment brand will help you attract the people who will feel at home in your corporate environment. As such, you should find it easier to retain them. A focused employer brand development effort takes patience and commitment. Given the competition for talent, the results are more than worth the effort.

SOURCE: Ed Newman, The Newman Group, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

LEARN MORE: Find out how home improvement retailer Lowe's has built its employment brand.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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