Brand | Is employer branding dead?

Is employer branding dead?

The employer brand is having something of a reputational crisis right now. Its critics suggest it’s merely a pet HR project that exists in a silo, dislocated from the corporate brand and delivering little benefit to the overall business.

All too often, it can become a white elephant – a project that takes up a large amount of time and money, but once launched is never fully utilised to inspire and retain existing employees or attract vital new talent. Seen as a ‘one-off fix’, and often poorly aligned to business objectives, it can end up being little more than a few recruitment marketing tools in an ad-book.

So how do you create an employer brand that works – and delivers real, measurable business benefits?

Audley, an innovative and rapidly growing company that’s transforming the way retirement is viewed in the UK, has created an employer brand that’s proving to be a powerful business driver. Their successful approach saw them picking up the award for Best Employer Brand at the Personnel Today, RMA and Inhouse Recruitment awards.

So, what marked it out? The fact that it really delivered on its objectives – to find and inspire talent capable of developing and running their ever-expanding number of luxurious Audley Retirement Villages. In the first 18 months after launch, cost-per-hire dropped by £600, recruitment spend remained the same despite a 32% increase in the number of hires and staff turnover in the vital area of care dropped by 19%. Internally, 24 out of the 28 topics covered in their employee survey saw improvement.

How was this achieved? The discovery stage involved people from right across the business and at every level from carers to the CEO. This information was then used by their agency CA3 to develop key employee propositions, and from this, the overall brand ‘The Audley way’.

Crucially, the propositions were also used as behaviours – behaviours that were then used across recruitment, selection and training. Competency-based interviews, employee probation and annual reviews were also all aligned to the behaviours too, and ‘A night with the stars’ was launched – an employee award ceremony celebrating those who have truly lived the brand, and done everything ‘The Audley way’.

Audley’s business successes, (including numerous new village launches and being named ‘Retirement Operator of the Year’ by RESI) have all been supported by the power of their employer brand. What’s more, it’s a brand that’s flexible enough to grow with them – as they launch their new brand, Mayfield Villages.

Sam Monteath of Reason Why, a long-term partner of CA3, had this to say, “It’s projects like this that really excite me. It’s looking at the positives AND negatives of the candidate and employee experience and asking what could be done if they were better understood. Or if they were just better. When an employer brand starts by asking the question, “How can we make this organisation better … and how can we prove we’ve done that?” Well, that’s a great challenge for everyone involved, and a wonderful opportunity for a fresh approach.”

SmartestEnergy is another brand whose innovative outlook means rapid growth and the need for an employer brand that really delivers. Their new employer brand, Power a revolution, is working with and helping to support their corporate brand too. Video content across their new careers website asks questions such as “Why can’t big business be sustainable?” and “Why can’t the wind support communities?”, and then allows their customers and their people alike to talk about how they’ve worked together to provide practical solutions to these often complex questions. A great example of corporate and employer branding working in perfect harmony, not to mention positioning SmartestEnergy as an employer of choice.

To see a real return on investment, HR professionals need to design employer brands that are laser focused on driving business objectives right from day one. A powerful brand is one that is integrated into every stage of the employee journey, and continually measured, improved and evolved with the changing needs of a business.

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CA3 is an award-winning creative agency that helps organisations attract and engage with talent through fabulously compelling employer brands, careers websites, videos, print and advertising campaigns. We’re also the creators of Eli; personalised onboarding technology that’s changing the way businesses onboard new people. Used by clients such as AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare, NatWest Group, and Aviva, Eli is 100% about engagement, and we’ve got the stats to prove it.