How to Prove the Value of Your Employment Brand Strategy

By Erin Binney Jul 14, 2017
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BOSTON—It's a given that every company has an employer brand. What's up for debate is how effective your employment brand strategy is, and chances are the answer can be found in your talent management metrics.

It's well-known that whether you're actively managing and defining your employer brand or not, you have one, according to Juli-Ann Drozdowski, director of employer branding and recruitment marketing at Boston-based Fidelity Investments. "It's really the essence of what it's like to work at your company," she explained during a keynote presentation at the Human Capital Institute's 2017 Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference. "It's what people perceive the qualities and values to be of being an associate at your firm, and it's really what differentiates you."

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: Branding: What is an employer brand, and how can we develop an employment branding strategy?]

A strong employer brand can pay talent management dividends, Drozdowski noted. She cited 2012 research from LinkedIn that revealed companies with a strong employer brand achieve 50 percent cost savings per hire and 28 percent lower turnover. In addition, these companies have 2.4 times more revenue growth and 1.8 times larger profit margins.

The research also revealed that a strong employer brand is particularly helpful for attracting certain workers. "If your talent pools depend on younger demographics, if you are growing globally and/or if you are hiring individual contributors and managers for your organization, investment in employer brand is an even more important consideration," the report authors wrote.

If you're actively managing your employer brand—and the findings from LinkedIn offer a compelling reason to do so—you're probably beefing up your careers site, becoming more active on social media, and offering unique benefits and opportunities to employees. But how can you tell if your efforts are paying off?

Gathering Data

To prove the value of your employment brand strategy, you must first gather data to determine whether awareness of your brand is growing and how positively your organization is perceived.

Drozdowski shared six ways Fidelity measures this:

Website traffic. On your website, "you are able to fully control what your messaging is [and] how you're positioning yourself," she said. Fidelity uses Google Analytics to track, among other things, how many people visit the site and how engaged they are once they get there.

Drozdowski said number of visitors is important but number of unique visitors is more important because attracting new people to your site means you are increasing brand awareness. Another important metric is time on site. "Are they only spending a minute, or are they really looking to learn more about you?" she asked.

Company ratings on third-party sites. Ratings on Glassdoor, Indeed and other sites "can give you a glimpse into what people actually think about your culture and work environment" in a way employee surveys won't, Drozdowski said. In addition to providing an overall company rating, employees can dish on everything from the benefits to how good the coffee is on the sixth floor. A company with multiple locations can also discover regional variances from the ratings on these sites.

Social media. While number of followers is worth tracking, she said, "the biggest thing about social media is the reach." In addition to showing up in followers' news feeds, company messaging can also reach followers' extended networks. This is particularly true if followers engage with company content through likes, retweets, shares or other actions.

Number of employee referrals. "Your associates are your ambassadors," Drozdowski said, and the people best equipped to talk about your company being a good place to work. If people are happy working at your organization, they will be more likely to refer others.

Number of applications. Generally, an increase in applications indicates a growing interest in working at your company. However, this metric can be heavily influenced by number of requisitions, Drozdowski cautioned, so be sure to weigh it appropriately. If the number of requisitions is going down, so will the number of applications—and that may not have anything to do with your employer brand.

Internal mobility. When people like working for you, they are going to want to stay and grow their career, she said.

Fidelity reports to leadership on these measurements quarterly. "We talk to them about how things are trending, and we talk to them about how things are shifting, particularly in different markets," she said.

What Success Looks Like

Data can reveal whether awareness of your brand is increasing, but the true test in terms of proving your employment brand strategy's value is being able to demonstrate a correlation with the trajectory of certain talent management metrics.

For example, the quality of your job applicants should increase as brand awareness increases, Drozdowski said, because people will immediately know who you are when they see your name in a job posting and they'll be excited about the idea of working there.

You will also see your acceptance rates go up, she said. That's because people will already have a good feeling about working for you by the time they receive a job offer.

Additionally, your retention rates will improve. "The costs savings there are tremendous," she noted.

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