Just like marketers who build great brands, can HR create employer branding with similar templates?
Enterprises success is dependent on its customers’ loyalty and references. Hence, the entire organization continuously focusses on the customers. Marketers create awareness, interest, intent leading to purchase, and then focus on the retention of their customers. Moreover, organizations have a framework or a template to win and manage their customers. They also measure the cost of acquisition of customers quite religiously. Just like marketing sets target on the market share and customer satisfaction ratings can HR have a target and path to Employer Branding?
Employer Branding Obstacles
Unlike marketing and sales, Human Resources team have a few more hurdles to pass. For the sales, team customer is the king. But, for HR, it is not that be that straight forward. They have to work through the prism of policies and framework for their customer, who is none other than the employee to deliver the service.
Most importantly, this framework is pre-decided by management, and there is very little last mile flexibility in most organizations. Unlike customer related issues which get solved in no time employee demands and needs take time to resolve. Before any decision, they have to go through multiple layers of discussion. Agility to attend to their customers is the critical challenge for HR, whereas the external paying customer gets the entire organization’s attention. This mindset change is what most HR professionals are asking.
Customer Branding Vs. Employer Branding
When it comes to the paying customer, there is a constant attempt to create a positioning. The value proposition, repeat purchase, customer satisfaction, the price point in which the service or products delivered are objective measurements. Marketers can diligently present this and pivot this on a dynamic basis. Employer branding is very similar. Great Employers define their value proposition first. They go on to measure metrics like attrition, retention of key talent, Employee satisfaction surveys, Hiring costs, Employee referral ratios, exit interviews feedback & Glassdoor ratings. In the case of Employer Branding, HR’s success depends on getting the entire organization’s attention with the same level of intensity and sense of urgency as they would do to the end customer.
Salary and Benefits
HR needs to set a competitive salary benchmarking for the entire organization. Many large enterprises and funded start-ups today have competitive salaries for their top and middle layers. However, the front line staff who interface with customers continue to be underpaid. This pay balance is an important starting point. The next step would be to balance the benefits. Just like customers, employees like benefits. Flexibilities in terms of leave, working from home, timings are becoming more critical than before. Tangible benefits like Creche, Gym, Cafeteria, sports facilities are becoming perks amongst larger enterprises. Some of these can be viewed as nice to have Vs. Must have. However, the results of best employers survey benefits seem to tilt towards employee benefits.
The employee experience has to emanate from the culture of the organisation and has a higher impact than the salary and perks which are easier to execute. Many startups may not be able to match the salary and benefits large enterprises offer but can be competitive in terms of their overall culture.
HR path to Employer Branding can begin with a conscious ‘culture building’ mindset. First of all, there has to be an awareness of how the organization collectively behaves or the culture as we more often call it. The conviction of HR and CEO that Employer branding is an inevitable by-product of a great culture is an essential first step. This inherent culture of the organisation will eventually drive the Employer Brand. It all begins with how the job aspirant experiences the employer from the interview stage to the time he or she becomes an alumnus.
Beyond the culture which takes time to build, there are a few tactical steps that are relatively easy to follow.
In the digital world, an interactive career page is an essential starter for your branding journey. Many organizations don’t even have pages that can narrate what it means to work with them. A video featuring their CEO and HR Head would give a glimpse of the organization. Videos of existing employees in current work settings is a highly engaging way of showcasing your organization. Advertise the existing openings of the organization in a simplistic way to apply via LinkedIn profiles than an extended form filling. Some of them even ask to email your CV to a standard id which is a dampener if it’s a non-responsive Id.
We are in an age where most of our hires are millennials and Zillennials. They are born and grown up with technology integrated into their lives. It is essential for organisations to invest in interactive Applicant Tracking and Employee management systems, which should reduce the friction and inefficiencies in our current hiring, onboarding, and employment processes. It’s a minor investment for a more exceptional experience. Many large enterprises and funded start-ups who deploy cutting edge technologies for customers struggle even to have essential technologies for their own employee experience.
Hiring & Onboarding Experience
The response time to job applicants, interviewing, and onboarding experiences are moments of truth before joining any employer. Most enterprises lose their reputation at this phase resulting in poor onboarding ratios. Lack of quick responses, frequent rescheduling of interviews, long waiting time for interviews, lengthy hiring cycles, and no feedback to rejected aspirants are the constant pain points. Many organisations pay massive attention to hiring the person and fail in providing the necessary care, training during the first few days of the employee.
Here again, the senior hires tend to get preferential treatment over the entry-level hiring. For enterprises, time to fill, the applicant to offer conversion, onboarding ratios, and candidates interview experience scores are critical indicators to their recruitment and onboarding experience.
Most CEOs have excellent communication skills, But, if they intend to use that to connect with their team that makes that skill count. Many of them restrict their interactions with their direct reportees, press, and top customers. CEOs and leadership team should build their communication channels, use blogs, videos, town halls to regularly communicate with their employees, customers, partners, and their Industry ecosystem.
Additionally, in large enterprises, leaders should create forums where they connect with their front line employees regularly. HR should seek a high touch and communicative leadership behavior from its C suite leaders. A monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, yearly communication, and connect exercise should be part of all CEOs and CHROs calendar.
Learning and Development
Many studies have revealed that employees cherish training and learning opportunities with their employers. Organizations which have structured developmental programs across all levels tend to be loved by their employees. Technology has made some of the learning experiences easy to deploy. Enterprises who have a blend of tech and personal training programs, mentoring of new and young employees, coaching of senior leaders have an added advantage when it comes to long-lasting employee experience. Your alumnus may forget your gym and cafeteria, but unlikely to forget the structured deliberate learning experiences.
The average tenure of employees across the hierarchy has been reducing. It’s a given that your employees will leave for reasons not acceptable to you. Organization processes have to be the most mature during the separation phase as it can ruin a carefully built experience until then. Supervisors have to be trained and oriented in this critical skill where emotions get the better of the best. One needs to make peace with the fact that employees leave when they are somewhat unhappy, and there might be some non-engaging behaviors they might exhibit during this phase.
If only employers can equate exiting employees with their dissatisfied customers, they might be able to manage the situation more sensitively. The excellent hiring experience, attractive salary, benefits, learning programs during the employment phase can get ruined if notice periods experiences are unpleasant. Yes, a time-bound relieving letter and Full and Final settlement is the last gift that can create lifelong alumni for the organization.
Employee the evergreen customer
Is half the battle won if managers can work with a mindset that employees are evergreen customers? Just like customer focussed organisations know how to attract customers, engage to keep them happy, and also manage angry customers, HR needs to bring a similar template to manage their employees. This mindset often starts with the CEO’s office, and that’s where the battle begins for most HR professionals. If they enroll the CEO to an employee first mindset, the entire organisation will follow the culture of treating employees as customers.
The best way to measure your employer branding is to ask yourself how easy was it to fill your last critical vacancy with a talent of your choice.