Pre-internet times, how did job seekers get any insight into what it might be like to work for a particular organisation? The answer is they had to rely on the scant information they could glean from asking around. And, of course, what they were told during the recruitment and selection process. Or, if they really wanted to know, they could have gone ‘undercover’ and called up or visited the establishment.

Now, all they need to do is visit, type in a company name and read the detailed descriptions from current and past employees about the pros and cons of the business as an employer. Salary, benefits, best and worst managers – all the information is there with just a click of a button.

While relatively new to the UK, Glassdoor has provoked the creation of a wave of similar sites and social threads (such as #badbosses), that encourage employees to ‘dish the dirt’ as well as give praise where it’s due. It’s like a version of popular travel review site, for employees to use on their journeys along the career superhighway and empowering them to really think about whether you’re the sort of business they want to work for. Have you checked out your company on Glassdoor?

The growing power of employer brand

With all of this, it’s no surprise that the popularity and power of the employer brand continues to grow. And it’s not just employers and ‘brand consultants’ who are talking about it.

Each year we track data from over 45,000 employees globally to establish people engagement, happiness and satisfaction trends. This year, our 2014 Talent Toolbox: Review – 2014 people engagement trends report found that employees rank employer brand as the number one characteristic that makes an organisation a great place to work. So if you’re not ‘on it’, take note. And if you’re a job seeker who wants to contribute within an organisation that has real meaning, look for a strong employer brand.

This isn’t another fluffy HR term; getting your employer brand right can have a serious impact on the success of your business. CareerBuilder found that organisations with a strong employer brand received 3.5 times more speculative role applications than those without – helping to reduce recruitment spend and produce a solid pipeline of talented applicants.

The ICIMS State of Employee Engagement report also highlighted that: “an organisation’s unique employer brand not only works to attract highly qualified candidates, but ultimately helps to keep them engaged throughout their careers” – lowering labour turnover and enhancing engagement levels.

You have to commit to compete

Organisations at the top of the best places to work lists – such as Google, Virgin, Iceland and Bourne Leisure – ensure as much effort, resource and time goes into creating strong, resilient, trustworthy employer brands as what goes into their consumer brands. If you’re a serious contender, this commitment is crucial.

The key is ensuring employees feel proud of their place of work, understand what it stands for and know where it’s headed. This all hinges on the delivery of clear values and employee value proposition, or people promise, and should be reviewed regularly to ensure people feel they are delivered consistently and well.

It’s important to review the process by identifying and delivering continuous improvements to keep ahead of the game. And if things do go wrong, own up and deal with it fast – or risk a disgruntled employee hitting social media for a rant (you only have to look at Marina Shifrin,who spectacularly quit her job via YouTube video and went viral with 18 million views and counting).

For the people we interviewed in our research, communication, fair pay and benefits packages were the biggest concerns. Employees want to be able to have adult-to-adult conversations with their employers, yet in our experience too many organisations still adopt a parent-child approach. So, don’t just pay your people lip-service. Ask, listen and take action in relation to their individual needs and challenges. Do this and you’ll go far in ensuring your company name doesn’t end up tagged #awfulemployer…

Written by Jane Sunley, CEO of PurpleCubed

Jane Sunley, CEO of PurpleCubed

Following a successful career within hospitality, Jane realised that if someone could help service organisations to become a great place to work, there wouldn’t be such a crisis over ‘the talent war’.

In September 2001, she formed Purple Cubed (previously learnpurple) in order to help aspirational growth businesses attract, develop and retain talented people. Purple Cubed has helped transform the people practices of some of the world’s most recognised brands (including Diesel, Burberry, The Ritz, Hakkasan) and saved clients collectively in excess of £10 million per annum with their straightforward approach to HR strategy and great technology.

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