Employer branding - why is it so important these days and how it can actually help your company
We are helping one of our customers (name replaced with "SomeGenericCompany") with complex employer branding. One of project's prerequsities was a situation analysis. And as it will probably be valid for many similar (and even less similar) companies we have decided to share it with you. Maybe you'll find it useful.
This article will help you figure out what is employer branding, why is it so needed and how it can be used to gain decisive advantage for your business.
Current situation of "SomeGenericCompany" in Northern Bohemia
Company is doing well in terms of business. Surplus of business inquiries drives the motivation of the company to hire workforce (and optimize efficiency etc.). "SomeGenericCompany" plans on hiring approx. 70 people in 2018. Growth of business is also reflected in mid-term business plan where "SomeGenericCompany" plans on building a whole new factory during oncoming 2 years. This will raise a need for 200 more employees...
Labour market situation in Czech Republic and Liberec region
The situation on czech labour market is critical. There is more than 200 000 available jobs opened and the number is still rising *1). This number almost doubled in last year! The unemployment rate around 3% *2) is one of the lowest in whole EU and is lowest in Czech Republic since nineties. We can safely say that everyone who wants to work already works somewhere.
Unemployment rates and trend in Liberec region (https://www.czso.cz/csu/xl/nezamestnanost-v-libereckem-kraji-k-31-12-2017)
Situation in Liberec region is statisticaly very similar to Czech Rep. as a whole. If we look into details *3) we find out that there are ca 8700 job offerings in Liberec region (31.12.2017). That is a 5,5% rise since month before. On one job offering there is approx. 1,37 applicants. This also means that there is very limited possibility to choose from applicants. What also makes the situation in Liberec region complicated is the close vicinity of multiple large factories (e.g. DENSO, Knorr-Bremse, Benteler, TRUMPF, ...) that are "fishing in the same pond" of available labourers and even the relatively short commute distance to ŠKODA in Mladá Boleslav makes the local labour market situation harsher.
Situation is pretty grimm even if we look into the future. There is almost no inflow of immigrants *6) who coul'd close the gap on labour market in short time (let alone the hardships of overcoming the cultural and language barriers) and also the population of Czech Republic is growing older in time which means that population cohorts in productive age are dwindling (let alone the "unpopularity" of blue collar jobs).
Numbers of asylum seekers are dropping (https://www.czso.cz/csu/xl/nezamestnanost-v-libereckem-kraji-k-31-12-2017)
What can we do about it
"SomeGenericCompany" Liberec already started activities to mitigate the contextual risks and to promote "SomeGenericCompany" as first choice local employer. A complex programme of "Employer Branding" *4) was started during january. In employer branding project we need to "cover all bases" from HR marketing (promotion of "SomeGenericCompany" as a brand that offers value that job seekers seek) to internal processes such as onboarding (to mitigate the risk of early fluctuation that raises costs) or motivation and engagement of employees (which will not only eventualy raise effectivity but also boost people's awareness of "SomeGenericCompany" as a prefered employer through word of mouth).
But why do we need such a complex programme?
To put it simple we just need to stand out among other employers in region. Every company *7) offers competitive pay, various bonuses such as longer vacation, payment bonuses, cafeteria, etc. And due to the situation on labour market it is not enough as we can see. Competition through raising salary and raising of material bonuses is a one way trip to oblivion. First - material (or extrinsic) motivation works the same way as drugs do *5). People just need more and this kind of motivation is only short term. And second - there will always be a company that can offer more, so spinning up the personnell expenditures spiral only raises costs and does not provide permanent solution.
What is the solution? What do the people want?
Solution is complex as the problematics itself. We need to go much deeper. We need to find out the long term motivation, engagement and loyalty building factors among people and systematicaly promote them using every possible (sensible) marketing channell.
Good start is the new global corporate website that presents "SomeGenericCompany" as a multi-national and stable company, it's expression is serious and "businessy". This is a very good way of attracting customers as this channell is priceless in B2B communication and marketing. If we want to stand out among other employers we need to exploit every possible way of communication. We plan on exploiting classical media such as outdoor advertising (billboards, banners on public places and in public transport), PR articles in newspapers as well as progressive methods like appearance (or even arrangement) on public events, sponsorship in a sense of CSR *8) (effect can be multiplied by involvement of our employees). Where we are behind our competitors is our presence on new media such as social networks and exploitation of specialised methods of HR marketing such as hiring-focused microsites. These are the new billboards, these are the banners and advertisements of today. We can imagine hiring-specialised microsite as a shop window where we display things that attract customers. Future employees in our case. Therefore we must also change the approach. You simply don't talk to future employees the same ways as you do to B2B customers, right? Both groups need specific approach, both needs different channels (of course with respect to "SomeGenericCompany"' "visage" and standards).
Why do we need modern and progressive media? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube etc.? Because it's where people are. The times when people had been seeking for a job are long gone. Now companies seek for people. And it means we need to be where people are. And not only where, but also when. The availability and short feedback/response time are crucial. It's demanding and risky in a way? Yes. Can we omit it? No. By building up our presence on social networks we can build community and maximise the impact of our HR marketing efforts. By exploiting new technologies we can get closer to the people we need to engage. Today's average online-offline marketing ratio is ca 50% and it grows in favor of online media. The advantage is not only in the reach of this channel, but in measurability (e.g. you can track billboard "views" only indirectly) and immediate feedback too (offline media lack direct feedback in principle).
The main point though is what we want to communicate. People don't seek jobs. People want to do something meaningful for meaningful (and fair!) compensation. They need to feel being a part of company, not only human "resource". We have to focus on intrinsic motivation *10) of our people which is way stronger in long term. The "why" question is also different for various population cohorts, so we must be ready to engage in sensible way with different groups of people. We need to find and promote the brand promise, the EVP *9). We also need to tell real stories. People are already overwhelmed by advertisements and are partialy inert to it so we must not just advertise, we have to tell stories (of our loyal employees, why they chose "SomeGenericCompany" over other companies, how they like the way company works inside etc.).
And this is only where it starts. As mentioned above this must not be only a facade, so we plan on improving our onboarding process, internal communication and processes, company culture and so forth. All of this needs to be propagated continuously on all channels in a way that is attractive and meaningful to our future employees.
This all sounds good but does anyone else do it?
This is both a chance/opportunity and a threat. A lot of companies especialy in production/manufacturing/industry sector still do not recognise the importance of the new "employee first" approach. So this is a great opportunity for us. But there are progressive companies (even our competitors on labour market) who do not slumber. Even such rigid and traditional companies as banks realised that if they do not catch the train they might be soon doomed with employee leave and inability to hire (quality people). And not only banks of course. Let's look at some industrial/manufacturing companies who are keeping up to date.
- IFE (member of Knorr-Bremse group): hiring microsite http://www.hrdinouvife.cz/ and company culture promotion http://www.hrdinouvife.cz/articles/2-chceme-k-sobe-hrdiny-kteri-se-neboji-rikat-co-si-mysli
- TRUMPF: "manufacturing is about people!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ2QRd8nMh0
- Motor Lučina: http://www.patriotmagazin.cz/rodinna-firma-ktera-ma-300-zamestnancu-v-motoru-lucina-to-jde/ - promotion of company culture
- Strojírna Oslavany: https://www.regionivancicko.cz/zpravy/aktualne/8388--Firmou-roku-Jihomoravskeho-kraje-se-stala-oslavanska-strojirna.html - promotion of internal culture of the company, CSR and business flexibility
- První Brněnská strojírna: http://www.nasepbs.cz/cz - hiring microsite
Even Deloitte recognises the trend (since 2016!) world-wide as mentioned here https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/human-capital/articles/introduction-human-capital-trends.html.
The desired outcome is that there is a natural inflow of candidates to the company, word of mouth about "SomeGenericCompany" as first choice employer is widely present, employee turnover is minimised and if you ask random Liberec citizen "Do you know "SomeGenericCompany"?" he/she replies with "Of course, I'd like to work there!".
This is not going to be an easy task so we need every support we can get. We'd be glad to share acquired knowledge in case it may come helpful in other "SomeGenericCompany" branches.
Do you find your company in similar situation? Let us know, we are able to help you!
Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
CEO of CEREBRA s.r.o.
10) https://www.verywell.com/what-is-intrinsic-motivation-2795385, https://www.verywell.com/differences-between-extrinsic-and-intrinsic-motivation-2795384, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation#Intrinsic_motivation, https://msu.edu/~dwong/StudentWorkArchive/CEP900F01-RIP/Webber-IntrinsicMotivation.htm