Part 1 – Reputation Overrides Branding
There is no disputing the fact that an organization’s employees are key to the success of any company, regardless of the industry. This means that attracting quality talent and branding yourself as a great employer are always high priorities. For the majority of organizations, employer branding is looked at from a marketing perspective. The focus is on injecting the talent market with messages and mission statements that promote your organization and its values. This is an important part of recruiting desired talent – but if your employer branding misaligns with the story the market hears from your current and past employees, the market is inclined to believe the latter.
The unfortunate truth is that the market has become deaf to your employer branding and marketing. Most organizations, including your competitors, are spending resources to promote themselves positively as an employer; therefore, the candidate market is so saturated with similar mission statements, organizational values, and positive messaging that candidates are inclined to seek other information to gauge whether you are the right fit for them. In future blogs in this series, we will discuss ways to differentiate your messaging to help you stand out from the pack but, for now, let’s explore how your potential candidates may come across alternative sources of information about your organization and how those sources can convolute your employer brand.
Talent communities can often be tight-knit groups and candidates have the opportunity to learn more about you, as an employeer, in a multitude of ways, including: word of mouth, online reviews (such as Glassdoor), workplace interactions, etc. Ultimately, it is your current and past employees’ experience that shape your employer reputation. For example: The demand for physicians is currently exceeding the supply, therefore health systems and hospitals are in high competition with one another to recruit quality physicians into their organizations. Because of this, candidates are known to reach out to currently employed physicians to better understand the work environment before making a decision or accepting a job offer. This includes anything from community networking to messaging via social media to requesting the opportunity to meet a potential peer during the recruiting process.
So, what happens when the story candidates hear from your current (or past) employees misaligns with your employer branding messages? Well, logic tells us that when told two conflicting stories, we should believe the source that doesn’t appear to have any motive to misrepresent the reality. Organizations do – and should – care about the public’s perception of them as an employer, therefore they do have a clear motive behind the messages they put out into the market. Employees, on the other hand, are generally speaking from experience and are unlikely to have an ulterior motive. Of course, there are always outliers, such as disgruntled past employees who may misrepresent their experience out of spite, but candidates may not know how to distinguish between fact and fiction.
Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that every organization is putting out positive employer branding messages, but the top employers’ have a talent base that echoes the same sentiment. This is exactly why employee experience needs to be viewed as key pillar of employer branding. In future blogs in this series, we will elaborate further on the techniques to differentiate yourselves, as well as ways to better understand and improve your employees’ experience to ensure that your reputation aligns with your employer branding.
Written by: Jackie McMann
About the Author: Jackie McMann is a Manager at McMann & Ransford with extensive experience working with Fortune 500 clients to transform their business models, develop differentiated portfolios, and inject best practices into professional services.