BR ANALYSIS. Employer reputation now strongest weapon in talent war 

Newsroom 20/11/2019 | 08:39

With companies making huge efforts to attract and retain employees, Generation Z is about to reshape the entire labour market. The new, tech-savvy generations of employees value the organisational culture and a wider range of non-financial benefits more than a simple remuneration. Things are different now when it comes to designing HR strategies for older generations of employees, too. But what do they all have in common when it comes to choosing a new job? The employer reputation or employer branding is probably one of the most powerful tools that companies have at their disposal to attract and retain employees.

By Anda Sebesi

Now more than ever, an employer’s reputation is critical to attracting the right talent. A good work-life balance, career growth opportunities and flexible work arrangements are increasingly important factors in the search for a potential employer.

An employer brand perceived to offer these benefits is crucial during these times of talent scarcity. Workers want to know they can count on their companies to help them achieve a sense of purpose in their jobs, grow professionally and provide inspiration for their long-term goals. Especially to the Millennial generation, an organisation’s intangible qualities such as its mission and culture can also play a huge role in winning high-quality workers.

According to Employer Brand Research, a 2018 global report conducted by HR company Randstad, what attracts workers to an employer may not always be the reasons that convince them to stay. Even though compensation remains the most important aspect when choosing an employer, its impact is less of a factor in the decision to stay. In other words, salaries may help initially attract talent, but job security, work-life balance and the convenience of the office location will convince them to stay.

So what does the survey data say about how employers should support their brand internally and externally? The same research shows that fostering the employer brand has always been a complex task that too many companies oversimplify, believing that a universal message should resonate with all of its employees and prospective workers. The reality, however, is that brand strategy must be directed at various stakeholders but supported by the same employer value proposition (EVP). Moreover, with the rise of independent workers and the gig economy, employers need to deliver relevant messaging to attract this growing segment of the workforce.

WHAT DO WORKERS WANT?

As Randstad found out, the top reasons to choose an employer remain relatively consistent over time.

Following a downward trend for both attractive salary & benefits and job security, we saw a slight increase in both drivers in 2018 (+2 percent) at international level. The driver which has seen the biggest increase across all subgroups in the past year is career progression (+3 percent). A pleasant work atmosphere, financial health and location all declined in the longer term, but as this trend has now stabilised, they will likely remain important drivers to attracting employees in the future.

Age is the biggest differentiator when defining what workers want. It may therefore be argued that one should shape the employer brand in accordance to the target audience. The younger workforce aged between 18-24 show a more diverse range of reasons to choose a company, says the study. Good training, career progression, diversity and inclusion and giving back to society are perceived to be particularly important for this age group. As it is often not as easy to find a new job, employees aged 45+ find job security and an employer’s financial health to be more relevant, Randstad found.

According to the same study, the most attractive attributes sought in employers are not currently aligned with companies’ perceived core values. It is only job security that employers are able to partly provide for. 

Employers typically offer financial health and the latest technologies to attract employees, which are of relatively low importance to workers when compared to other drivers. 

To capitalise on these findings, employers should focus more on the wellbeing of their workforce when developing their EVP with an emphasis on promoting work-life balance, job security and a pleasant work atmosphere while still retaining the more tangible attributes like attractive salaries and benefits.

Last but not least, in today’s competitive market for top talent, building a reputation as a credible employer and great place to work is a key factor for small to mid-sized businesses, too. A strong brand impacts whether qualified candidates will decide to join a specific SME or accept a competitor’s offer instead. As a growing small to mid-sized business, attracting and hiring the best talent is critical nowadays for them. 

GEN Z MAKES THE DIFFERENCE

According to PricewaterhouseCooper’s US CEO Survey, 62 percent of companies plan to grow headcount in the next twelve months. With Gen Z making up more and more of today’s talent pool, businesses must first understand how to successfully manage and retain these new employees, who will soon make up over half of the workforce. But with the help of emerging technology and data, HR teams can understand the ins and outs of the workforce of the future to achieve success.

“While some find it frightening to receive hyper-personalized ads or have a brand know everything about them, Millennials and Gen Z can’t remember a time when that wasn’t the norm. The same is true for what these employees expect in the workplace – a tailored experience that is focused on their individual goals, work style, and preferences,” says Adrian Niga, senior account manager, human capital management solution at Oracle Romania.

He adds that Gen Z has spent most, if not all of their formative years with on-demand and constant connectivity. They expect their workplace technology to mimic the ease they’re accustomed to in their personal lives and want business applications to offer the same consumer-grade user design and experience that they’re used to. “With mobile-responsive design technology, HR teams can meet this expectation. Through a single, conversational experience across all devices – from desktop to mobile – employees can have access to workplace resources and tasks at anytime, anywhere,” says Niga. He adds: “But perhaps the most impactful capability helping HR meet increased expectations are digital assistants. When integrated with HCM solutions, digital assistants can respond to common inquiries instantaneously, satisfying Gen Z’s on-demand expectations while saving valuable HR time to focus on more strategic initiatives. Additionally, with machine learning, digital assistants can apply data from a specific user’s profile to form personalised recommendations, delivering more accurate and tailored content with every interaction.”

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