What is employer brand and why does it matter to manufacturers?

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When we think about branding, we often picture our public image – colours, logos, tone of voice and house style. We frame it in the context of the service we can offer to our prospective customers.

But what about prospective employees?

A company is, after all, only as strong as its people – a happy workforce pushes up profits by more than a fifth. So, at a time when the manufacturing sector is facing the biggest shortage of employees for 30 years, how can you make sure you’re attracting the talent you need to take your business forward?

It’s not all about the money

Contrary to popular belief, salary is not the biggest motivator. A survey by Glassdoor showed that 8 in 10 employees would prefer additional benefits in favour of a salary increase.

Instead, they are looking for:

  • Good values
  • Work/life balance
  • Respect and fairness
  • Positive feedback on their work
  • Career progression and personal development.

As employers, we all need to make sure we can communicate these benefits as part of job descriptions and in our wider communications. But how much do you really know about the perceptions of your business as an employer, aka your ‘employer brand’?

Look at your digital footprint

Feedback from others is a great way to see if you’re practising what you preach. With more and more digital channels cropping up every day, there’s no better way to see how your brand is perceived.

Look your company up on sites such as these:

Glassdoor

Glassdoor gives prospective employees the chance to look up companies based on current or former employees’ reviews. The reviews can be for the company as a whole, or top-level managers who are in the public domain – not private individuals.

All reviews are verified to make sure the person did indeed work there, so it’s a great insight into working practices and salary expectations.

TheJobCrowd

TheJobCrowd is similar to Glassdoor, but it focuses specifically on graduate roles or those in the early stages of their career. It also has an employer area that helps companies promote themselves as a great place to work.

Google

While Google reviews, or indeed other third-party review sites such as TrustPilot, are designed for customer experience, they can impact employer brand. Some ex-employees may choose to write reviews on Google (for better or for worse!).

Don’t ignore this feedback – good or bad. It’s your opportunity to respond and show the world how you’ve taken comments on board. For example, if people were disheartened by inflexible work policies, you could alert them to your new remote working scheme.

Shout about professional development

As proponents of PR, we believe in shouting about your successes – including career progression – to help demonstrate what your business offers to would-be employees. With professional development cited as one of the biggest recruitment incentives, it’s a great chance to show employees what you can do. Use your social networks to shine a light on the rising stars in your business, whether they’ve won an award or passed an exam.

You can even cross this over with wider brand PR. For example, if several of your team have achieved Chartered Engineer status, shout about it. Show others the career development opportunities on offer within your business.

Show and tell

The pandemic has put the spotlight on employer practices – the good, the bad and the ugly. From highlighting remote working policies to challenging diversity, 2020 forced employers to shift their thinking.

If you want to foster genuine trust, you need to be able to demonstrate that you’re living your values. Perhaps you’ve made a commitment to sustainability, for example. You could publish quarterly reports on the changes you’ve made, from switching to eco-friendly suppliers to cutting down on business mileage.

Remember that one of the key drivers for employees is company values. This is particularly pertinent for the emerging Generation Z workforce, who are more motivated than ever by sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2020, Generation Zs (those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s) made up 36% of the UK workforce – so you cannot overlook this market.

Refine your recruitment process

How you recruit is a direct window into your company culture, and whether or not you’re a ‘good employer’. You can supplement your job description with an active digital footprint using all of the methods mentioned above.

Natalie Saunders, Director of HR Consulting at Clarion, adds: “The candidate experience is key in a competitive market where employers are (in part thanks to COVID-19) fishing in wider talent pools. How well you tell the story of your organisation – why it exists and what it stands for – is crucial to attracting the talent you need to succeed. Consider asking your people if they will share their journey of joining and working for you in a short video – give people an insight into the lived experience of being a part of your team and a sense of what it will feel like.”

The recruitment process shouldn’t deter. When advertising for staff, remember three things: transparency, inclusivity and authenticity. For example:

  • Be transparent with the salary or salary range – don’t lead people on.
  • Offer flexible working and equal opportunities (even Zoom interviews!).
  • Go beyond ping-pong tables and Casual Fridays, and offer perks people will value.
  • Practice what you preach: codes of ethics, mission statements, employee stories and engagement surveys will all help.

Recruitment is evolving all the time, but the importance of strong company values remains. Just as you’d expect an employee to align with your values, you should be prepared to treat your team well.

A strong employer brand is the only way you can communicate that.

Read how we’re helping our clients use PR to attract high calibre recruits.

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