Strong employer brands provide opportunity to compete in the ‘war for talent’

Little did we know, two years ago as we stared into an abyss of lockdowns and furlough, threats of redundancy and business closures; that in fact we would see the unemployment rate drop to its joint lowest level on record at 3.2% (ONS).

Never before has ‘Employer Brand’ and establishing a strong EVP (Employee Value Proposition) been so crucial in business planning. No longer the luxury of the big corporates, but now an essential consideration for businesses large and small, to be woven into the fabric of HR and Brand strategy.

Last year’s winners of the Employer Brand of the Year Award are two superb examples of organisations at different ends of that scale. Sunshine Communications represented a fresh, new business with an opportunity to write its own rules and create its own playbook, whilst Edrington demonstrated how a large, international organisation, steeped in tradition and legacy, could leverage years of experience to create a market-leading proposition – both winners truly living the values across their organisations. 

So, what makes a great Employer Brand?

The CIPD states that "A strong employer brand should connect an organisation’s values, people strategy and policies, and be linked to the company brand".

This highlights the collusion required between HR and Marketing. Creating the strategies and policies is crucial, and the subsequent promotion of the Employer Brand, both internally and externally, determines how effective an organisation will be in attracting, securing and retaining world-class talent.

Marketers may shudder! In fact, to be 'linked to the company brand’ may be somewhat marginalising the pivotal role marketing plays in breathing life into those ‘policies and strategies’; to publicise – indeed, evangelise – about everything that differentiates the organisation.

Now, with enormously diverse workforces, spanning perhaps the most varied range of employee personas, the Employer Brand strategy is not simply a ‘tack-on’ to HR Policies or Brand Strategy but a crucial cadence underpinning all the values and drivers.

We know, post-pandemic, the key drivers for candidates have changed. For employers ready to capitalise on that clarity (fair remuneration, health and well-being benefits, hybrid working and flexibility, work/life balance, strong CSR policies and a commitment to sustainability) there is powerful opportunity to compete in the ‘war for talent’ through robust and engaging Employer Brand delivery.

Step forth, Marketing, to drive that home. Shout it from the roof tops (or your socials and recruitment collateral) but forget to reinforce the message internally at your peril! HR is working its socks off to secure new talent and understanding how to personalise the individual’s experience within the workforce, but employees have to be reminded why they joined and must clearly see the principles in action, at the heart of the organisation - not just at the front door. That’s what secures retention.

The Marketing Society Employer Brands of the Year Award is, in essence recognition of organisations that have not only created the policies but who are leading the way in finding compelling ways to share their story with the market. Organisations who are truly ‘walking the walk’ and demonstrating the value of Employer Brand in their results. As a Search and Recruitment specialist, Denholm has uniquely positioned marketing principles at the core of our delivery for 20 years – bridging the gap between recruitment and marketing, providing a platform promoting and leveraging Employer Brand for our clients. Denholm is a passionate supporter of these awards which will be presented at The Marketing Society St Andrew’s Day Dinner at The Sheraton Hotel on November 30.

By Steph Halliday, Denholm Associates