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Better Brand, Better Employees
by Nancy Ahlrichs

We make decisions based on brands every day: which shampoo to buy to get silky hair, which restaurant would best for a special dinner, which television set will have the features and picture quality we want, etc. Job candidates do the same thing when they decide whether to apply for a job with our company. Employers known as great places to work—Employers of Choice—have worked hard to achieve this designation. No matter what your industry, location or size, you can be the career destination for your target employees.

What is your company’s employment brand today? Where do local teachers, parents and people in positions of influence recommend that new graduates and job seekers apply? Those companies are Employers of Choice.

A company may have many long-term employees, but employee retention alone is not the sign of an EOC. An Employer of Choice (EOC):
• is the employer everyone hopes to work for
• has employees who refer qualified candidates for hire
• has engaged employees who will “go the extra mile”

An Employer of Choice has a reputation as a great place to work—as well as a reputation for exacting hiring standards, tough training requirements, high performance expectations, great managers who treat employees well, ethical practices and competitive compensation and benefits. An EOC is both customer-focused and employee-focused.

Uncover Your Employment Brand

There are seven ways to measure your employment brand.
1. Survey your employees. Would they recommend your organization as a great place to work? Why or why not?
2. Track the percentage of employee referral hires year-to-year. Aim for 30%--then increase the goal 5% a year.
3. Survey your target talent: what do they know about your brand? Where did they get their information? Word of mouth? From a current or past employee? Online through Vault.com, WetFeet.com or MySpace.com?
4. Pursue awards as a “Best Company to Work For.” Pay attention to the “road map” that you receive, win or lose. Then apply again. And again. And…
5. Track turnover rates by department, function, and manager. Aim for 2-3% less next year.
6. Track overall application flow: is it increasing? Is quality increasing?
7. Track media exposure (number of citations, yours versus your competitors)

What should you be known for that would attract the best and the brightest candidates? Your employer brand must:
• Articulate your employment value statement: why would someone want to work here? (What’s in it for employees: purpose, values, rewards)
• Support your business strategy.
• Define what your customer experiences.
• Define what you need from employees.
• Define “on brand” behavior at each touch point.

EOCs understand that they must be the career destination for both potential hires and for their current employees. They do not promise the moon in an interview and then deliver Limburger cheese. In a Yahoo HotJobs Survey, 89% of job seekers said they must closely/very closely experience as an employee what the company promises to customers.

Your employment brand is more than a reputation for past employee experiences. A “brand” is the promise of an experience. For customers, this might include service, responsiveness, quality, innovation, etc. An employment brand is the promise of what it is like to work in a particular company. It is reinforced--or not--every day through employee touch points such as manager and HR rep interactions, how assignments are made, how policies are administered, how crises are handled, and whether there are fun events, recognition and rewards.

EOCs know that to deliver on the customer brand, they must first deliver on the employment brand. The rewards are considerable: lower recruiting costs, higher quality candidates, engaged employees reinforced by the employment and customer brands, higher customer satisfaction that results in more customer referrals, repeat business and increased volume per customer, lower cost of sales, higher profits… Your product and service brand as well as your employment brand are promises that must be kept. Deliver on both and set your organization apart from the competition!

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