Hiring amid the Great Resignation: How tracking your employer brand can give you an edge
In a fiercely competitive hiring market, HR leaders can use brand health insights to better attract ideal candidates. Here’s how.
At this point, you’ve likely been impacted by the Great Resignation—whether due to departures of people on your team or by leaving a job yourself. In December 2021, 4.3 million employees quit their jobs, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—which is actually down from a series high in November of 4.6 million “voluntary separations.”
Paradoxically, while a record number of people left jobs, as of December 31, 2021, U.S. employers posted 10.9 million job openings. Which means that, if you’re an HR professional or functional leader looking to fill the voids left by departures, you’re working in one of the most challenging markets for talent, ever. You’re facing stiff competition for great candidates, who are looking for the right next thing and getting hired quickly. At the same time, you need to find new candidates—fast—because those employees carrying the additional workloads of former colleagues need reinforcements to avoid burnout … and resignation.
Start with the big picture: Your employer brand
While hiring brings in the talent you need, it’s not the only touchpoint your company has with potential employees. Long before a job description or your recruiter’s message pops up in their LinkedIn feed, that individual has probably heard about your company through their network—as a consumer; in the news; or in conversations with friends, who may be employees.
This is why, says Dina Medeiros, director of employer brand and talent marketing at Momentive, your employer brand program, which was once a “nice-to-have,” is now a critical focus area for any company.
Drawing parallels with branding, customer advocacy, and product marketing, Medeiros says there are three keys to using your employer brand to attract talent in a competitive market: employer branding, employee advocacy, and recruitment marketing—all of which are interconnected.
Key 1: Understand the perception of your brand—as an employer
Medeiros suggests HR teams approach the lifecycle of the candidate/employee relationship in much the same way marketing approaches the buyer/customer lifecycle. It’s important to realize there are many touchpoints in both relationships that precede an initial interaction, whether making a purchase—or submitting a job application.
“We know only some small percentage of active buyers ever pick up the phone and call a salesperson,” Medeiros said. Instead, most do extensive independent research—reading product and brand reviews, reaching out to their network for recommendations. “The same is true for candidates,” Medeiros explained. “Before they respond to you or fill out an application, they’re going to research your company—what it does, and why it’s a great place to work.”
Medeiros emphasized that the employer brand needs to talk “real talk.” For example, when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, is a company showing up the way they say they do? And, from a candidate’s perspective, how does that manifest itself? “If we say, for example, that we hire veterans, how do we demonstrate that?” Medeiros said. “If I’m a veteran—or even if I’m not but I grew up in the military community, then I’ll be looking for that information.”
This is where a solution such as Momentive Brand Tracking can be helpful. Purpose-built to reliably measure brand performance, Momentive Brand Tracking enables companies to monitor brand health metrics and manage evolving brand perception and reputation. And while brand tracking is a solution most likely to be employed by a brand marketing team, there’s huge value to both marketing and HR to partner on this research.
Knowing brand health is important to HR as it is for marketers
A brand health study can deliver insights about market perception that are very useful to HR. For example, if there is a general perception that your brand is not secure, or if there’s a mismatch between a company’s strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the public’s perception of it, those beliefs are going to impact not only your customers, but also your potential talent pool.
Marketing and HR leaders should collaborate on which brand associations and attributes will not only move the needle on sales consideration, but also candidate consideration. A brand health study would measure those attributes over time for your brand as well as direct competitors (and companies competing for talent in your market).
One way to mitigate this is for the marketing, HR, and PR teams to collaborate around third-party “best places to work” surveys. Not only are inclusions in these kinds of surveys great for press releases, you could also include them in job postings. Reputation speaks volumes to prospective candidates, so remind your employees to write reviews on these third-party sites or fill out their surveys.
Beyond third-party validation, this is where proprietary brand health data can be incredibly valuable. You would better attract candidates that share your company values and mission if you could cite in job descriptions and on your career website, statistics that demonstrate how consumers perceive your brand as a leader in sustainability, or a leader in home fitness equipment.
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Key 2: Listen to your employees
Listening to employees and stakeholders involved in the hiring process is the flip side of the equation. “From an employer brand perspective,” Medeiros said, “It’s important to understand if your employees are sharing externally. Candidates will be interested in that because people believe people over brands.”
Medeiros thinks that some of the most important work a company can do is to research and articulate its value proposition for employees. “Brand is what your employees say about you, not what you [the corporation] say about you,” Medeiros said. “And that’s why it’s so important to talk with employees and truly understand why they’re at your company and why they stay.”
This is where attraction and retention intersect. As with brand loyalty, positive employee sentiment leads to greater employee engagement and retention. In today’s market, tools like the Momentive Employee Engagement and Retention solution can help HR teams collect employee perspectives in real time and take quick action to address areas of concern. With insights into what matters most, companies—including all of their people managers—can then make decisions that help retain talent and improve specific drivers of engagement.
Here it's important to remember that your workforce is not monolithic—so neither is your value proposition. Medeiros pointed out that different people need different things, and the same person needs different things over the course of their careers. “What I might need as a mother of young children will be very different from what I want or need in my career as an empty nester.”
As an example, Medeiros observed that the conversation used to be about “work/life balance,” but not anymore. Today it’s all about flexibility. And when your employees share posts or comments that demonstrate how much your company’s flexibility means to them, they’re not only powerful advocates, they’re also sending a signal to potential candidates who likewise value flexibility.
Key 3: Build a compelling case for your company through recruitment marketing
With all the great tools at their disposal, there’s lots of great data companies can use to market opportunities with their company to both external and internal candidates.
Medeiros believes in the value of applying “persona” insights gleaned from internal teams. From employee feedback you might surface specific themes. For example, the sales team might see themselves as fast-paced and innovative; hunters who love the game, while engineering might be a little more introverted but very thoughtful. “You can then build on those themes to create ‘day in the life’ stories, or you might discover a specific employee story you can share on your recruiting site or on LinkedIn to give candidates a sense of what it might be like to work on that team,” Mederios said.
And then there are the insights you can apply from feedback you receive from your candidates themselves, using an offering like the Momentive Candidate Experience solution. You can learn more about how your candidates think and feel about your employer brand and hiring programs and then use those insights to identify—and extend offers to—the right candidates faster.
You need to take a holistic approach to successfully build an employer brand that attracts and retains the right talent. Getting and acting on valuable market, candidate, and employee insights are critical to your recruiting success.