the importance of the employer brand on retention

April 22, 2016 Steven Brand

now more than ever, advocate within the organization

While there is rightly a strong focus on employer brand measurement to demonstrate an impact on the recruiting funnel or talent pipeline, there is another area where that impact can be even more valuable and profound: the internal workforce.

The cost to replace an employee can vary between 50% and more than 200% of salary, depending on a variety of factors including seniority, how specialized the skill and the efficiency of the recruitment process.

Analyst Josh Bersin estimates this to be just the tip of the iceberg. Indirect costs include advertising, interviewing, lost productivity, missed client opportunities, increased customer errors and a drop in engagement for remaining staff. Suddenly that replacement cost could reach 400% to 500% of the baseline salary.

So while there is no question that a strong, consistent, authentic and engaging employer brand can help reach and attract external professionals to your business, your brand is an even more powerful tool for holding onto the great people you already have. There are two distinct areas where an employer brand can help a company keep op people engaged. Each is deserving of a deeper exploration, but I will cover both briefly now.

broadcast reasons to stay

The power that a brand has to engage an external audience can be used to retain or renew the engagement of the existing workforce. It is entirely possible — especially in larger, more complex businesses or those experiencing extreme periods of change — for sizable sections of your employee base to feel disconnected. Reasons can vary from exponential growth to catastrophic retrenchment or hostile takeover.

As demand for talent heats up, this disconnect can quickly become something more serious as competitor and challenger brands invest in their external targeting and messaging (just like you do) to win over your people. However, assets designed to engage a new audience can be tweaked to help paint a clear picture of existing employees’ place in the organization’s future. This is especially key in situations of a merger or takeover.

In fact, your work in this space should be the very best your proposition can be because you use internal channels offering 0% wastage and speak to an audience you know to a far deeper degree than any potential candidate or talent pool. This should not be an afterthought but where your brand is at its best and brightest.

advocate the future

This second stream of the internal employer brand is becoming more prevalent and persuasive as technology makes it simpler to deliver. Bersin rightly points to the potential impact on the engagement and productivity of remaining staff when they see significant numbers of colleagues exiting the business. High turnover and declining morale can become a vicious cycle. Your employer brand can help.

What your workforce wants to see is action; they want leadership to deal with challenges on a strategic and tactical level. They want to see that the challenge is understood, in good hands and acted upon. Gone are the days when all this was kept at arms length, with employees told that senior management are “taking steps.” Some of these steps can now sit with every employee in any business.

Social media, advances in technology and changing candidate behaviors have converged to heighten the influence of the individual voice. As corporate, official channels lose credibility, we look to strangers (Glassdoor) or friends and connections in our career buying decisions.

But this is so much more than an external communications shift. It also means an organization can empower its current workforce to make a real, tangible and lasting difference by using tools such as Smarp or Dynamic Signal for social evangelism or RolePoint to drive referrals. Think beyond the cost and process efficiencies, and for now consider only the impact this can have on an existing employee.

They can see the business take seriously the need to recruit. But they are also able (and encouraged) to actively contribute to addressing this challenge: to have an influence over what happens, to help solve the problem and to have a voice. This can take place all before we get to the goodwill generated by the trust or the financial benefits a well-managed referral process offers. This kind of approach oozes positivity across the business and can have a huge influence on retention.

Of course things are more complicated than these few paragraphs might suggest, and there are many factors to consider and processes to complete to find the approach that works well for you. However, if you take only two things away from this post, let them be:

  • It will cost you more to replace a high performer than to retain one; and
  • Your employer brand should be absolutely fundamental to achieving either

About the Author

Steven Brand

Steven Brand is a leading authority on employer branding with Randstad Sourceright's Talent Innovation Center. He ensures clients and prospects have access to the very latest and most relevant thinking in employer brand practices, from compiling a compelling business case to writing strategy, driving delivery and reporting impact. Steven has more than 15 years' experience working in people marketing and employer branding, both in-house and with creative agencies for organizations as diverse as Deloitte, Carphone Warehouse, the MOD and RBS.

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