Honest yet attractive: Employee relationship management.

Building a sustainable employer brand isn’t the same as filling personnel gaps  

Organisations with a strong employer brand outperform their competitors. Yet organisations continue to place too much focus on ad hoc recruitment and other short-term initiatives.

In doing so, they are missing out. In a competitive jobs market, recruitment needs to be addressed strategically in order to both future-proof the organisation’s skills base and to secure its reputation.

(Photo by John Baker on Unsplash)

Happy employee = happy customer = more business values

In my view, the second point – reputation – is the most important. The right mentality, spirit and engagement your employees show in combination with learning agility is the key factor in delivering on your promise to your customerRecruiting and hiring people who fit your organisation’s culture and values is therefore crucial to maintaining your reputation among all your stakeholders.

It is here that a strong employer brand comes into play. A strong employer brand with an organisation-appropriate message enables you to recruit the right people. This in turn creates engagement and aligns new hires with your mission and goals. New hires fit in quickly because both parties already know that they are the right match for each other. And the organisations spend less time than their competitors on onboarding, employee retention is higher, and customers are happier, all of which helps to create sustainable business value.

Begin with an appealing but realistic picture

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But where do you start? The first step is to nail down your organisation’s purpose and strategy. You do this by creating a compelling story with an attractive promise: the Employee Value Proposition. This story must resonate with potential employees from their first contact. That could be anything from a potential recruit visiting your careers site to seeing a banner online or speaking to someone who works for your organisation and hearing how they talk about you.

Because first impressions are quick to be made and hard to change, my advice is to paint an honest yet attractive picture of what it’s like to work at your organisation. Honesty matters, because the goal is to attract people who will fit in and stay, share your mind-set and attitude, do the right things at the right times and contribute to your objectives. If we polish the reality too much, they will end up leaving, costing you money, wasting everyone’s time and potentially damaging your reputation along the way.

A powerful employer brand is a shared responsibility

To ensure consistent messaging, employer brands need to be owned and managed by both the HR and Communications departments: HR to run the strategic personnel planning and related marketing and HR product development initiatives; Communications to run reputation and related communication activities. Ultimately, though, the buck stops at C-level, because hiring the right talent contributes directly to your mission, long-term vision and strategic goals.

Strategic planning is gaining ground on operational panic

Looking around, this message does seem to be getting across. Although I feel that recruitment remains too focused on short-term needs and gains, I do see a shift from tactical recruitment to strategic employer branding, with a focus on developing a good talent funnel. Elements such as storytelling, content marketing and community management are becoming increasingly important to the employer brand. Social media is compulsory. As ambassadors of the brand, employees are becoming a growing factor in communication initiatives.

We’re not there yet, but I do believe that in the future, communication activities with new, current and former employees will be mandatory in recruiting and retaining the right talent. Let’s call it Employee Relationship Management.

Sascha Becker

As head of strategy at communications agency PROOF | internal & employer branding, Sascha Becker has inspired leading brands in both the Netherlands and internationally to turn the entire employee journey into a successful and structured employee experience. Sascha’s personal mission is to help shape the future of work and create a better, healthier future for everyone.