Anyone working in Talent today is under extraordinary pressure to attract and retain talent. The Great Resignation continues, with many employers still struggling to fill open roles. However, there are signs that The Great Resignation has evolved into something else entirely: The Great Recalibration. Evan Nesterak, Editor-in-Chief at the Behavioral Scientist notes “The shift in how we work over the past few years seems to have spurred us to start focusing more on why we work. It laid bare the disconnection between our aspirations for why we go to work and what we experience and do when we’re there.”
As a global executive search firm, we at Grace Blue are fortunate to get a first-hand view into what CHROs and CMOs are thinking: their priorities, and what they are responsible for from a metric standpoint. We are also privileged to get an intimate view into how candidates evaluate opportunities, and, in many cases, higher compensation doesn’t always translate into a signed offer. Candidates want flexible working options and benefits that matter to them. They want to be surrounded by people who respect them, not just as revenue generators, but as people with full lives outside of work. They want to feel that what they’re doing is meaningful. They want to be cared for and considered within a supportive culture that values the employee experience and contribution as much as it values that of the customer or client – now, more than ever.
Employer brand has the power to help do just that, but only if it has the same level of advocacy in the C-suite that customers and clients do. If your company is having trouble bringing in the talent it needs to thrive, ask yourself: do you have a recruiting challenge or an employer brand challenge?
The once tried-and-true tactics and benefits companies have relied on when trying to attract talent are producing diminishing returns in this new world of work. According to Ben Buffone, Chief Creative Officer at Wiser, a UK-based employer brand and recruitment marketing consultancy, “the shift we’re seeing in branding – consumer and employer branding – is that it’s now focused on people-led storytelling. People trust people more, rather than just letting your product or company do the talking.” Benefits, compensation structures, culture, and talent programs need to evolve, and fast; and so do the ways that employers communicate that to candidates. To get there, leaders at the C-level need to pay attention to this recalibration of work and stop thinking of employer brand as a non-revenue generating (albeit important) line item on their budget and start thinking of it as an active contributor to their bottom line.
There is a dawning realization in the C-Suite that the ability to attract talent is indeed very much tied to revenue and profitability. Katy Lawn, PhD, Research and Insights Leader at Wiser, makes this connection clear. “One of our clients has a very strong consumer brand, and in a survey we conducted on their behalf, 84% of respondents who viewed the company’s employer brand positively said that they were likely to buy from this company. In comparison, only 26% of those who were less positive were likely to buy from that company.” This connection between employer brand and revenue cuts across industries, sectors, and geographies, but so do the challenges in understanding that connection. In a 2017 study conducted by CareerArc, 96% of companies believe employer brand and reputation can positively or negatively impact revenue, but less than half (44%) monitor that impact. Part of the reason for that is the difficulty in tracking the impact of employer brand. There are a growing number of tools and platforms available to track employer brand metrics, including one offered by Wiser, which provides data that can be used alongside HR/talent metrics and marketing metrics. But it does require active involvement at the C-level to understand the implications.
Too often, Employer Brand has been relegated to the side. It’s been partially somewhere on the CHRO’s agenda, partially somewhere on the CMO’s agenda and in both cases it’s often not properly understood nor resourced. However, its impact can be felt far and wide across a business. It ties into goals like diversity, inclusion, employee engagement and other elements of the EVP and broader business strategy – all markers of corporate success in our modern climate, as much as sales revenue, reputation, and operating margins.
In addition to obvious benefits like reducing recruiting costs and improving the quality of hire, employer brand can play a crucial role in helping to direct company investment. Sitting where it does between Talent and Brand/Marketing and when tracked at the C-level, employer brand metrics can help companies more effectively target resources across talent programs like L&D, mobility, performance management. These types of talent programs typically generate massive amounts of data that can provide insight into their effectiveness, but if employer brand metrics are tracked alongside those at the C-level, it can be an early warning signal for attraction and retention problems: because employer brand is not just an external exercise. Articulating your employer brand is also about telling your existing employee community who you are too; and giving people compelling reasons to stay.
Similarly, CMOs rely on sophisticated data and analytics to understand the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and the changing needs of consumers so that they can adjust marketing approaches accordingly. Employer brand can also help enhance corporate brand and reputation and contribute directly to profitability. Very often, the same people a company is trying to hire might also be customers or have buying influences elsewhere – and that extends far beyond consumer purchases, because their experience as a candidate and perception of an organization’s employer reputation is directly tied to whether they want to do business with that organization.
Workers everywhere – from interns to CEOs – are recalibrating how they think about work, which means it’s time to recalibrate how we think about employer brand, its connection to the talent and brand metrics for which the CHRO and CMO are responsible – and with that, overall profitability.
By Erin Maxin, Director at Grace Blue Partnership Americas