Corporate branding these days is necessary or even paramount for companies of all sizes. Especially if the company has a goal to grow or go international, it needs a strong employer brand, which in the future will determine its success.
What is this branding nonsense? It is a fancy word used by marketers. It merely means how the stakeholders perceive your company. You deliver a message of your company culture and values, and they will evaluate, if they believe you and trust your message or not. All promises the company gives to stakeholders and customers, especially, should be well planned and delivered genuine and natural. Faking will be revealed very soon. In this, you will need professionals to help you.
Today we already see here in Finland, and for sure in Europe, how difficult it is to find employees. We have the generation Z entering the labour markets utterly comfortable with the digital world and the Internet. This generation uses smartphones and applications smoothly and communicates by entirely different means than earlier generations. Emailing nowadays seem to be old fashioned. Fast communication tools are more accessible and more convenient for the Z's to have discussions at any time anywhere and share experiences online instantly.
In Finland, there is a new service Tuntopalvelut. Anyone can register and evaluate their previous employers there. Companies are ranked based on these evaluations, and the results are public. The Tuntopalvelut makes the management style, working conditions and well-being in companies fully transparent. Companies can use this service for checking how they are perceived by the employees and as a company. Potential employees can quickly evaluate if the company shares similar values with them. And this is where the employer branding is targeted: to be an employer of choice. When the sustainable HRM and overall company values are communicated actively through the HR, the future candidates, the current staff and other stakeholders will identify the company through its values and actions, and the employer brand will be even more reliable.
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Sustainable HRM is more than the traditional HRM where the operational functions obliged by the law and related to the employer cycle (recruitment, on-boarding, leaves, salaries, insurances, training etc.) are responsibilities of the HR managers. Sustainable HRM is a strategic tool, and it creates a sustainable competitive advantage for the business. The traditional HR operations in the company may be firm-specific, but competitors may also imitate them.
Motivated employees who share the same values and future makes your company impeccable with a competitive advantage.
Benefits gained from the employer branding are all long-term.
Most of the resources, if not all, are accessible for the competitors. The quality and the product range are not necessarily those where the company can differentiate from the competitors. But when your employees are motivated, and they are of high quality and share the same values and future, your company is impeccable and have a competitive advantage.
Be the employer of choice
When future employees can identify the company as a match with their values and characteristics, the flow of high-quality employees is possible to achieve. This staff is committed to the firm, and they are not leaving it for any petty reasons.
When the staff is committed and motivated, it certainly works effectively. If there is a possibility to develop personal skills along with the professional skills, happier the personnel will be. Happy staff - happy business. These acquired skills will shift the staff to match the high-quality standards. If these people leave the company, they certainly are attractive to the competitors to hire. On the other hand, they also are the best ambassadors for your company and build a positive reputation further from outside. The employer branding must be done consistently and continuously with professionals with the ongoing screening on the company strategy, values and future developments.
Employer brand is relatively easy to build on already functional basic HR practices and value based activities. Here are four of them:
1. Commitments before and after the employment contract - focus also to the future candidates
An employee is committed to the company with the work contract and its conditions. The second commitment to high-quality employer branding is related to the time before the work contract is even signed yet. When the person is looking for job opportunities, s/he already in that stage, creates beliefs and expectations based on the promises the company have made when building the corporate brand and employer brand. If these expectations and anticipations will become a reality, this contract remains valid, but it can also damage the employer brand easily. The staff identifies the company through the promises it has made on employment. These promises can be economical (salary) or psychological (reputation, job satisfaction, values). If this psychological contract is not valid during employment, the competitive advantage will be lost, and the employees will eventually leave the company.
2. Work-life balance: make employee health a priority
Burn-out is a rather common cause for sick leaves these days. At least everyone knows someone who has been or is on sick leave because of burn-out. The pace of work is speeding up, and expectations on an individual are growing. If a company can manage this in a way that work-life balance and employee health are priorities, it has done already a lot for the employer brand.
3. Make self-development possible and expectations clear in the job
The high-quality workforce is rear, valuable, inimitable and non-substitutable, and this is what makes the competitive advantage to the company. If the employees can practice self-development on personal skills in addition to the professional skills, they perceive HRM as sustainable. Furthermore, they value a clear job description (JD) to understand the requirements of the work and employer completely. Only with a clear JD a person knows the expectations of the employer and can experience micro success moments throughout the working day, knowing that s/he manages work and time efficiently.
4. Let your employees grow to the next level
Work-life balance is an essential tool for sustainable HRM toolset. The time spent with the children and family are valuable, and the company should note that. The company should provide possibilities to develop for the employees to be able to grow to the next level as a professional, pursuing career development. All these will bring higher business profits and attract interest as an employer of choice in the labour markets.
Author: Katriina Lilloiva (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Resources: App, S., Merk, J., Butten, M. (2012) Employer branding: Sustainable HRM as a Competitive Advantage in the Market for High-Quality Employees. Management Revue Vol.23, No. 3, Special Issue: Recent Developments and Future Prospects on Sustainable HRM
https://www.tuntopalvelu.fi/ Accessed on 22.11.2019
Photos by Unsplash.com and Canva.com