Positive employer branding will attract top-shelf talent

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CHICAGO — It takes more than a slick careers site or clever culture YouTube video to attract top talent, and companies that are taking an inward look at their employer branding are seeing dramatic increases in attraction, retention and an overall positive employee experience.

Branding your company’s culture and finding a purpose outside profits is important in attracting and keeping the right talent, said Matt Kaiser, recruitment director for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“It’s not just about profits anymore, you have to think about the people and the planet as well,” he said, speaking Wednesday at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference.

For an example, he spotlights Toms Shoes and its one-for-one program that provides a shoe for a child in need for every shoe purchased.

The Playa Del Rey, California footwear company allows employees to participate in what it calls “giving trips” where they assist non-profit partners who are conducting eye exams or distributing shoes in places like Nepal and Honduras. Full-timers are invited on a trip after their first year; after their third year; and then every three years after that.

“How awesome of a benefit is that,” he said as an example of young talent clamoring to work for a company with a brand to stand behind.

And there are more companies taking this forward thinking initiative, he noted, pointing out employers like Facebook and Patagonia as companies with a brand known for giving back.

He offers a three step plan for employers looking to put in place steps to boost branding: crafting a message, communicating that message and measuring it to make sure it’s working.

When crafting a message, he tells HR leaders to focus on what message you’re going to share with candidates to find that talent?

“This is a key component. When you look at your message, there are three things it needs to be: authentic and compelling, aspirational and differentiated,” he said.

Your employees have to buy into it and believe it, he noted, and it also has to be aspirational. “We’re here at this level, but we want to be here … how can we can there and how can you help us get there,” he says to ask of a potential new employee.

He also advises reviewing internal materials. At Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, for example, there are job specific pinto outs called “one-sheeters” that are given to potential job candidates, like nurses, physicians or IT folks, to let them know the benefits of working at the hospital.

On a one sheeter directed at nurses, he said, a candidate might see awards won and testimonials from nurses at the organization. And additionally, some of the specific benefits for nurses like pediatric training and one-on-one mentorships. “Focus on some of those key roles you typically recruit for,” he said.

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And once the messaging has been crafted, he says it’s important to strategize how the message will be spread.

At Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, he described a three-prong approach the company takes to spreading their branded message.

The first is employees. “Educate them on engagement and recruiting,” he said. “Nurses know other nurses. Engineers know other engineers. If they share our message, it’ll reach the right audience.”

Secondly, is the digital platform — using social media and career channels to help reach outside the organization.

For example, have your employees write reviews on Glassdoor or share on social media opportunities within the organization.

The last opportunity is at offline events, such as conferences and partnership events.

“You can do the same thing; you don’t need a large platform,” he added. “This has been effective for us and we’re seeing an uptick in positive reviews on Glassdoor.”

Lastly, it is important to measure results.

“Measure what you’re doing to make sure it’s working,” he said. “This is something you should think about first, but is the third step in the process. You want to think about how what you’re doing is successful.”

At Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, they use two sets of metrics to measure: operation and strategy.

When measuring operations measurements, it’s measuring how healthy they are as employers, he noted, using data like the number of applicants, application to hire ratio and time to fill.

As for strategy, this is measuring the visibility of the company’s brand on metrics like, career site traffic, Glassdoor reviews and social media reach/engagement.

“Employer branding is about keeping your organization top of mind, so when that perfect candidate is ready to make a move, they think of your company,” he said. “Sometimes, a candidate might be at a job the like, but when they have a bad day eight months from now, they’ll think of your organization first.”

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Employee engagement Workplace culture Workplace management Workforce management Recruiting Employee retention