Employers Say Employer Branding Is Working

Dec 10, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 9.34.52 AMMost companies say their employer branding is successful, and 9 out of 10 small companies feel that way.

That’s according to a new survey of 100 professionals, from HR directors to recruiting consultants to CEOs.

While there are some great insights from polls and white papers that talk to what goes into a compelling employment brand (recognition, rewards, career opportunities, culture, etc.) there is surprisingly little about how companies conduct their employer branding/employer value proposition initiatives.

That’s why earlier this year we looked at how organizations plan, execute, and assess their employer branding. Here are some of its most significant findings.

Employer Branding Is Growing in Popularity

59 percent of our respondents had an articulated employer brand, and another 22 percent plan to produce one in the next 12 months. The average company in our survey conducted an employer branding initiative about 14 months ago.

Takeaway: If you don’t have an employer brand, and aren’t working to create one, you’re falling behind most of your competitors.

Small Companies Need Employer Branding As Much as Large Companies Do

While larger companies — those with 1,000 ore more employees — often possessed the budgets for more robust employer branding research, many companies with fewer than 1,000 employees saw the need for and value of a strong employer brand. 36 percent of smaller companies held employee focus groups, while 25 percent used employee surveys and 13 percent conducted social media audits.

Employers Are Looking Beyond Easy Metrics

I was pleased to see that many respondents aren’t evaluating their employer branding solely on numerical metrics that are easy to track, such as time to fill and cost per hire. Though “career site traffic” was the metric that most respondents associated with employer brand, 49 percent also look at employee engagement and 47 percent consider quality of hire. It’s tempting for companies to measure themselves by simple rankings and by how they rate in “best places to work” lists, but softer metrics can actually lead to better results for the bottom line in the long run.

Budget Is No Longer an Issue

A range of size and scope means that organizations don’t need huge budgets to conduct a successful employer branding initiative. 45 percent of smaller companies spent $5,000 or less on theirs, while only 19 percent of larger companies spent between $100,000 and $250,000. Among those who could approximate their budget, the average spend was $86,000. Interestingly, 27 percent of respondents couldn’t name the exact number, because their employer branding costs were bundled in another, larger project.

Vendors Rule the Space

61 percent of respondents partnered with an outside vendor on their branding initiative. My own experience has shown that neutral parties have a more realistic perspective on the company, can elicit more honest responses from employees, and possess an expertise that often doesn’t exist in-house. This results in a smoother process and more reliable findings. For more than a third of respondents, the vendor partner was selected as part of an overall corporate rebranding.

Employer Branding Works

Out of more than 100 respondents at organizations of all sizes, 80 percent consider their employer branding to be successful — bringing down costs, increasing applications from top candidates, and making them top of mind as employers of choice. Even more interesting to me is that 91 percent of smaller companies found their project to be successful, even though they had lower budgets. At least 58 percent of the time, employer branding research led to changes in social media strategy, career sites, recruiters’ toolkits, and recruitment advertising. Even the lowest-scoring categories, such as diversity messaging and benefit communications, changed at least 15 percent of the time.

You can download the 2014 Employer Branding Survey Results here.

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