Management Magazine
Hands on Management

Is your employer an outstanding brand?

Be strategic about attracting top talent

By ARIANE FISHER

You’re probably already familiar with the idea of a company brand — it’s the reputation you have to the outside world based on your products, logo, history, and more. But what is an employer brand? Simply put, your employer brand is how you are viewed as an employer by both employees and job seekers.  For example, are you known for your generous compensation packages, training opportunities, or work-life balance? A strong employer brand is critical for both recruiting and retaining top talent; and, in a world of increased competition for top talent, your employer brand can be your main differentiator in the market.

Building a great employer brand

What matters most to candidates when they consider a new employer? How can you best communicate your value proposition to the market? Shortlist recently conducted a survey of over 1,200 professionals to learn more about what candidates look for in an employer, where they seek information about a company when they’re considering a career move, and which companies in Kenya are most desirable to job seekers. Here are four key takeaways from the survey to help you build an outstanding employer brand: 

Put learning and growth opportunities over competitive salary

While many employers have historically thought of compensation as the main leverage point they have with top candidates, our survey shows that most job seekers are prioritising career growth when seeking a new opportunity. Overall, candidates ranked learning and growth as the top factor that attracts them to a company, ahead of compensation, work-life balance, and other more traditional employee value propositions.  

This insight from candidates provides an important clue for employers on how to position opportunities at their company to jobseekers. Candidates want to understand how a certain role can contribute to their career growth, not just how they’ll be compensated. 

Interests by demographics 

It’s important to note that different segments of job seekers have different top priorities when evaluating a new employer.  For example, our survey found that women care more about a company’s culture, their relationship with colleagues, work-life balance and the company’s mission and impact on society than men do.  Millennials, on the other hand, are more interested in opportunities for promotion and competitive salaries than other age groups. Employers should therefore make sure they truly understand the job seekers’ personal risk profile and ambition and help them understand how an opportunity maps to their priorities. 

Brand visibility 

Does a well-known brand name carry weight in the job market, in an era with increasing start-up and SME growth? Sixty-three per cent of Kenyan professionals surveyed stated that a well-known brand name is important to them, and most of the companies that were ranked as top employers in Kenya are recognisable corporate brands. Interestingly, at the same time, less than a third of professionals felt that companies in Kenya are doing a good job of accurately conveying their company culture to prospective employees. 

Candidates often have a stronger view of large, brand-name companies, shaped by marketing and advertising and constant visibility. SMEs looking to attract top talent should build a bold, easy-to-use website, implement a marketing strategy that will increase their social media reach organically, or use email marketing to impress your target audience. 

Online reviews and word of mouth really matter! 

When researching a company, 38 per cent of our survey respondents preferred speaking to current and/or former employees as the best way to get accurate information; candidates are researching current and former employees on LinkedIn and checking Glassdoor for reviews. Over a third of our survey participants said they would accept lower pay if the company they are applying to has very positive reviews online. 

There are many ways that companies can transform employees into brand ambassadors, and ensure that word of mouth, both online and offline, positively reflects their brand. One great practice is to share employee testimonials online such as on your careers page and highlighting employee experiences on social media.  For example, Thomson Reuters launched a campaign called #FeaturedFriday to help prospective hires picture themselves working in their offices across the world. Every Friday, their Instagram handle featured an external or internal office photo captured by one of their employees. Tactics like these help talents connect with and get excited about joining your workplace.

The recruitment process 

From our research, 75 per cent of respondents believe that the way they are treated as a candidate during the recruitment process accurately reflects how they would be treated as an employee. From the moment a candidate submits their application, they start evaluating what it will be like to join your team. With that in mind, employers should aim to offer all candidates a great experience, including making sure each candidate receives feedback on the status of their application, whether accepted or rejected. Employers should also strive to run efficient and effective recruitment processes, with clear timelines shared with candidates, to ensure each candidate is treated with dignity and respect. 

Ariane Fisher is the Managing Director of Shortlist East Africa. Email: ariane@shortlist.net 

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