As businesses seek to gather talent in a tight labor market, they will have to focus on new ways to attract employees. Employer branding can become the deciding factor between repelling or enticing individuals into an organization.
Improving Brand Image
As of 2017, 56 million millennials were working or looking for work. They use the internet to not only search for open job positions, but they also research potential employers according to their values as they look for the best fit. With job options readily available to search, employer brand is an important driver for sustainable competitive advantage; the bottom line is this — the more attractive the employer brand is perceived by potential employees, the stronger the organization's brand equity becomes.
“Your company brand is your employment brand and it is the most important asset you possess. That was not the case fifteen years ago. Companies are compelled to invest in their employment brand like they have their consumer or market-facing brands,” says Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology.
He continued, “it goes beyond attracting quality talent. The emerging generations are much less likely to do business with a company where they have had a poor experience as a job applicant than previous generations.”
According to research published in the Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, employer branding consists of two dimensions: instrumental and symbolic. Instrumental attributes describe objectives such as pay, bonuses, benefits and working hours. The second dimension describes the symbolic meaning, or feelings that employees and consumers have when connecting with a company.
It matters more about what customers and employees say about your company than it did years ago. A host of social media and review sites give individuals a platform to express their happiness, concerns, and frustrations—the latter two could be damning for a new, or even an established business when it comes to attracting employees.
A Deeper Connection
For Millennials there is an internal desire to connect with their employer on a more personal level. Millennials want to work for a company that not only pays well but exhibits a fulfilling work culture and also does their part to make the world a better place.
According to Lievenes & Highhouse, researchers of employer branding, symbolic attributes are linked to 3 core desires:
- The desire to maintain self-identity
- The desire to enhance self-image
- The desire to express themselves
It is hypothesized that jobseekers search organizations that reflect their self-concept. They added, “the instrumental-symbolic framework of employer branding has several key applications in the area of applicants’ initial attraction to companies.”
They argue that the importance of the symbolic functions of a brand increases when instrumental differences (e.g. pay, benefits, etc) between brands are limited. Employer brands describe the organization in terms of subjective and intangible attributes that could be important in attracting young people through both corporate websites and communication tools like social media.
Developing an employer brand is not just for today, it is for the future as well. Millennials and post-millennial generations will look for positive brands to secure employment and if that image is distorted, they will look elsewhere — and in a tight labor market, that can make or break a business. The workforce is changing and now, more than ever, company image matters not only to consumers but to employees as well.