is 2017 the year your employer brand creates the buzz you’ve been looking for?

January 16, 2017 James Foley

looking ahead, these are the trends that will invigorate your employer brand

In many ways, 2016 was a breakout year for employer branding. We saw many companies develop and launch employer brands and employee value propositions (EVPs) for the first time. Others increased their investment and ramped up digital efforts, developing social media strategies and compelling video content to engage talent inside and out to bring their brands to life.

My question is what motivated the break out. I believe what happened here is that hard-to-find candidates stopped buying into an average experience, and with the rise of the gig economy, recruiting is trending toward filling 90% hard-to-fill roles and only 10% "well, they'll apply" jobs. Recruitment processes were (finally) forced to change and evolve.  

LinkedIn’s 2017 Global Recruiting Trends Report puts employer brand on the priority list for the year. An impressive 23% of talent acquisition leaders plan to hire additional resources this year solely dedicated to employer brand strategy and activity.   

So, where should talent leaders focus their efforts in the year ahead? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have some ideas.  

improving and promoting the worker experience

It’s no secret that the workforce is becoming more mobile. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of the gig economy and the career contractor. More people realize temporary work is a secure and viable option across a growing number of professions.

Contingent workers come in, fulfill a need and leave — but how they’re treated has a lasting impact. Their brief experience with a company will dictate whether they entertain future or permanent opportunities and the kind of information they will share with their networks and Glassdoor.

This will have a trickle-down effect on all roles, not just gig ones, if not addressed. We are in an age where news and information are in excess, and there's no longer the perception that contract workers are not equal to FT employees. These stories translate your true values and experience in a way people trust.

In 2017, I believe we’ll see an increasing number of companies focused on employer branding activities that improve and promote the worker experience, not just the employment experience. Progressive employers will make sure that their EVP messaging is effectively tailored and communicated to the contingent audience.

technologies to improve the candidate/employer relationship

When we think about the recruitment funnel, a couple of interesting trends have developed.  A number of employers are adopting technologies that are focused on offering a highly personalized candidate experience and attracting quality candidates into the funnel. Think artificial intelligence systems that learn about candidates’ backgrounds and preferences and then serve up job postings and personalized recruitment communications.

I’ve also seen employers that are moving towards tech that improves the quality of human interactions to enhance the candidate experience as they move through that funnel. Examples include smart application filtering systems that enable easier shortlisting and digital chat tools providing real time Q&As and one-on-one dialogue between candidates and employers. Where the struggle exists is how to balance technology with the human touch, and there's no one right answer. However, the balance is the key to success.

For some time now, there has been a growing awareness of the ways in which technologies and automation can attract candidates and nurture their journey. We expect to see more organizations investing heavily in technologies that fall in one of these two areas. Or better yet, both? 

a stronger focus on internal engagement

Brand advocacy continued to be one of the big concepts of 2016, as more companies realized the value of engaging employees to take ownership of the employer brand. This year we will see more organized efforts to encourage all employees to live and breathe the brand throughout the enterprise. My prediction is that employer brand practitioners will start collaborating a lot more closely with internal communications teams to ensure that EVP messaging is threaded through a wide range of corporate communications.

On my end, I’m anticipating increased client interest in EVP messaging frameworks and internal communications and social media strategies. Frameworks that don't create walls to keep employees in, but give them platforms to shout their stories from the rooftops and build bridges into the job seeker community. Their voices become the king, not the manufactured voice of the senior leadership. I’m also expecting to receive more requests for my team to develop creative employee experiences and initiatives to keep the employer brand top of mind. Some of our more progressive clients may even step back and assess whether their employer brand aligns with their mission and core values, and start doing the work to bring these elements closer.

In all, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting and busy time for many employers. As talent scarcity grows, many organizations will come to realize their employer brand will be the difference between winning talent and praying for talent.

About the Author

James Foley

James is Global SVP, Employer Brand. Leveraging a 20-year career as an expert consultant, business executive and marketing strategist, James supports the employer brand strategy and EVP development of global and local organizations. He enjoys helping companies to develop differentiated EVP, communication and marketing approaches to attract, engage and retain top talent.

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