How leveraging your brand can drive the bottom line.
By Rob O’Keefe
In business environments that have increasingly demanded data around return-on-investment, the pressure to justify each and every function within a company continues to rise with little sign of stopping. Recruiting and talent acquisition have made great strides in the past decade to establish metrics that put concrete values around their impact on a company’s bottom line. However, an area that is often overlooked is the effect of employer brand on recruitment within the context of return-on-investment.
The majority of executives can recognize that brand plays a major role in the way consumers value products and services. But, organizations that convey their brand identities most effectively can garner a greater financial return. When it comes to recruiting, the concept is virtually the same. A company stands to benefit in numerous ways from having a strong brand, including substantial cost savings.
Cost-Savings Derived from Communicating the Brand
An organization that communicates positive attributes about itself and its brand can attract higher-quality employees. It can also be more accurate and efficient in pairing qualified prospects to the company’s needs and culture. Advantages for the organization reverberate across a multitude of areas as a result.
Less often recognized is the immediate upside in terms of cost savings opportunities. According to the study by TMP Worldwide The Monetary Value of Discrete Employer Brand Attributes, prospective employees are often willing to accept lesser salaries based on various other aspects of an organization or position. Benefits packages and advancement opportunities were understandably among the top factors found to impact a candidate’s willingness to accept lesser compensation. Yet very close behind were location and work/life balance—and they had similar cost-savings implications. Other enticements include an organization’s career mobility, flexibility, and manager quality.
Interestingly, the degree of importance for various attributes differs significantly between respondents based on demographics. Women gave stronger consideration to flexibility of work, opportunity to learn, and work/life balance. Meanwhile, men were more willing to consider lesser compensation in exchange for benefit packages, location, advancement opportunities, and career mobility.
Income level also displayed an interesting trend. More than 75 percent of respondents with income in excess of $75,000 said that they would decrease their salary expectations based on a good location.
Findings such as this may suggest that cost-saving recruitment strategies linked to brand need to be approached differently depending on the target employee. The results of the study show that cost savings can be gained via decreased salary expectations in exchange for other attributes. It shouldn’t be surprising that companies with well-regarded brands can be more competitive in attracting employees with equal or lesser salaries. The ability to recognize actual value through the recruitment process isn’t quite so simple. Recruiters should effectively communicate the company’s positive brand attributes throughout the acquisition process, including advertising.
Keys for Communicating the Brand in Recruitment Advertising
Identifying, selecting, and communicating the appropriate employer brand attributes for an organization requires an effective framework. Most companies confine their focus to a particular industry, which may limit them to a large portion of the workforce. It may not be immediately evident to professionals in finance, information technology, or marketing that there are relevant opportunities for them in sectors such as healthcare, retail, or food service.
Differentiation is simply about articulating the advantages you offer in context with all the other choices that the employment market has to offer. The aforementioned employer brand attributes play a large role in achieving this goal. The key is to understand which one of the attributes is less common in the marketplace.
While it’s important to formulate your company’s value proposition and corresponding employer brand on a distinct set of attributes or pillars, it’s just as critical to understand there are certain aspects of the brand that you may need to amplify based on your target audience. This is where market segmentation comes into play. There are key distinctions between what drives a sales professional versus an engineer. This same distinction can be made when considering what’s important to healthcare professionals as opposed to someone in marketing.
Technology drives discourse. The various mobile channels and social networks are now the primary shapers of brands. Just to have a voice in the conversation, or guide the direction, organizations must have a presence beyond one or two individuals charged with social media. This means augmenting your recruitment advertising with an employee population fully prepared to engage and broadcast the compelling attributes of your brands.
Potential Implications for the Future
Communication strategies aside, there are some other steps that recruiters can take to ensure that the organization is getting the maximum return possible from its value proposition. It starts with aligning your brand with the most advantageous attributes.
One of the outputs of TMP Worldwide’s research addresses not only the monetary value of various attributes, but also the effectiveness. This effectiveness value formula takes into account the perceived prevalence of the various attributes in the marketplace. The premise is that attributes of importance increase or decrease their effectiveness (as the foundation of the employer brand) based on whether candidates believe most companies provide those attributes. From a hierarchal standpoint, advancement opportunities, work/life balance, career mobility, flexibility, and manager quality are among the top 10 most effective attributes. Aligning the employer brand with these attributes, which also requires delivery by the employer, is the first step. Communicating these in a manner that is differentiating is the next step.
Although it isn’t a simple equation or the only consideration when communicating the employee value proposition and employer brand, the additive and cumulative effect impacts employee attraction and retention—as well as mitigating the risk of competition based on price-point alone.
To take it a step further, when developing the employee value proposition in recruitment marketing, do so carefully and with purpose—or it could cost you.
Rob O’Keefe is vice president, brand strategy for TMP Worldwide.