Employer branding is the new black

Published Nov. 23, 2021, 6:20 a.m. by Denise Wall

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The pandemic shock has increased competition for talented employees. Organisations must invest in employer branding to be competitive.

The workplace has been one of the biggest casualties of the ongoing global pandemic. From transforming the way people work, to massive job reductions and the public health risk faced by frontline workers, the job market has been up-ended in a way never before seen in recent times.

Now, public and private sector employers are facing another headache, dubbed The Great Resignation in the United States. It’s an unprecedented phenomenon where employers are finding it increasingly difficult to fill open positions, especially in service jobs such as retail, hospitality and health care. According to Fortune Magazine, at the end of September, some 4.4 million Americans opted out of their jobs – that’s 3% of the total population. The reasons for the worker shortage include issues such as pay dissatisfaction, early retirement, burnout and childcare gaps – and many who lost their jobs are just not going back.

It's not just employers in the US who are feeling the pain. Here in Finland, the Chambers of Commerce network surveyed its membership in September and returned with a warning of a shortage of skilled workers. The supply shortfall reportedly affected a range of sectors, including trade, administration, technology and data processing, and telecommunications. On the public side, the situation was much the same, as a poll by the public sector pensions provider Keva, revealed municipal leaders worried about the scarcity of applicants (content in Finnish) for open positions. These findings are consistent with our own discussions with potential clients, who have said that one of their biggest pain points is finding capable talent to fill positions across different levels of the organisation.

What’s your Employee Value Proposition?

In the current situation, skilled workers are at a premium and they have the upper hand in the recruitment market. This means that employers must do a better job of selling their organisations, employee programmes, benefits and values to prospective job seekers, and differentiating from others in the same sector. It’s therefore more important than ever for hiring teams to focus on employer branding and to communicate their “Employee Value Proposition” to job applicants who will likely be evaluating them against other potential recruiters.

Creating an employer branding strategy that is more than skin deep requires a commitment to first building an organisation that can retain top talent by investing in employee wellbeing and development and by creating a safe, positive and inclusive working environment that is guided by a clear set of values and ethics. This is increasingly important for younger professionals who want to work for organisations that reflect their own values.

A successful employer brand also means communicating a clear position on the issues affecting your stakeholders, not the least of whom are current and potential workers. According to research firm Edelman, we are witnessing the rise of the “belief-driven employee”, who expects an employer to adopt bold positions on important social issues. In fact, Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer found that 61% of employees said they choose an employer based on their beliefs.

The situation is undeniably challenging for hiring managers, but only those who can adapt and craft a compelling employer brand based on a meaningful employee value proposition will succeed in attracting top talent in the current job market.

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