As the war for talent on our little island intensifies, Maltese companies are scratching their heads on how to attract and retain the best people. As a result, the buzzword ’employer branding’ has reached our shores. But what exactly is it?
Put simply, employer branding is about making your company the best place to work to the group of people you need, and letting the world know.
Chances are, if you get the first point right, your employees will do the rest for you. Each time an employee speaks about his work with his friends and family, or shares a company post on social media, they are offering valuable insight as to what it is truly like to work for the company. This is what ultimately amounts to real, genuine (and free) marketing – the best kind!
The key, of course, is how to go about making your company the best place to work at. This is not only about paying the highest salaries; research has shown time and time again that people do not leave a company solely because of salary. Even if employees sometimes do, the ultimate goal of employer branding is to get those employees to continue recommending you as a great employer.
Along the way, it is inevitable that more people will want to stay with your company, and more will be attracted to you due to this positive impression your employees themselves have created. So how can any sized company start developing an employer brand without employing an entourage of specialists and breaking the bank?
1. Have something real and unique to offer
Define your Employee Value Preposition (EVP). Think about what it is you are offering and promising your employees that makes you different. Look at your competitors and what they offer their employees. Know what makes you special and tell potential candidates about this difference at every opportunity. Give them tangible proof of this special thing; be it flexibility, professional training, challenging work, mentoring, leadership opportunities and more.
You also need to understand your target group and cater for their needs. What makes them tick beyond their pay cheque? When in doubt; ask your employees! Have a conversation with them, carry out a pen and paper survey. Just get it right.
When people’s needs are met they will not seek any other place to work – we spend way too many hours at work to be unhappy!
2. Don’t promise anything you can’t commit to
In other words, always think about the employee experience first.
The hard work is finding a balance between what you stand for, what you (can) offer and what your employees need (and want). Listening to your employees is crucial, but don’t promise anything you can’t commit to… or anything you don’t truly stand for.
Just like customers, employees have expectations. From the minute an individual decides to apply for a job, they start building impressions of you. It your job to offer a great ‘service’. Think; did you get back to those rejected candidates?
The employee experience should be rooted in your EVP and carried throughout the employee cycle (from application to exit interview). This is crucial to attract and retain the people you need. Remember, just like no expensive food dish can buy exceptional service, no salary can buy an authentic employee experience.
From the day you make contact with a potential candidate, till the day they leave your company, never stop asking your employees about their experience. Ask them how they found out about the vacancy? What made them apply? Whether they heard about the company before? Why they are leaving? What makes them stay?
Note this information – use it wisely by feeding it into any recruitment campaigns,
conversations with employees, rewards and benefits schemes, HR policies and your overall culture.
3. Actively promote yourself as a good place to work, through any marketing channels you have
Not every company may afford a double page spread on a local magazine, or an article on Lovin Malta. But hey; We all have a Facebook and/or LinkedIn account! And creating a company page is free.
Essentially, employer branding is answering the question: “What is it really like to work there?” Yes, look good, invest in good design if you can, but keep in mind that the more authentic, consistent and true you look – the more effective your efforts will be. And if it’s important to your company that employees work at the office, don’t say you offer flexible working simply because everyone else is saying it.
Connect with people who you think fit in with your brand and speak to them. If your reputation as an employer is what it should be, then chances are people will be up for a chat to explore work possibilities. Get your employees to refer people. You may offer them a little thank you, but it’s surely nothing compared to what an agency may charge.
Remember, it’s Malta, where word of mouth is the number one marketing channel.
4. Be patient
Just as it took time to build your reputation with clients/customers, a good reputation as an employer may take a while too. However, it will be worth doing.
Just like every customer is valuable, so is every employee. Take time to think about your employer brand. Top talent is like your ultimate client base. They will make or break your business, so give them the attention and care they deserve.
Vanessa Camenzuli is a part-time MSc business and organisational psychology student experienced in marketing, communications and employer branding, with a passion for people management.