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Winning the Argument for Employer Branding

5 min read.



Employer Branding

Proving the case for employer branding and its business impact is one of the more challenging aspects of an EB leader's job. Here's why joining the dots for management is vital for project buy-in...

In today's hyper-competitive market, failing to invest in a strong employer brand can be disastrous. According to LinkedIn’s Winning Talent report, companies with a poor employer brand face a 10% higher cost per hire and struggle with 28% higher employee turnover rates.

Imagine the impact on your bottom line if you can't attract or retain top talent.  

Most employer brand leaders will say that there is one thing that always seems to hamstring and hold people back, and that is making the business case for employer branding. It's a challenge that exists in small companies, start-ups and even global organisations like Nike and Apple. 

Employer branding is no longer just an optional add-on. It is as essential as sales, marketing, PR, finance, or any other core business function. But all too often, it gets dismissed or deprioritised because business leaders fail to grasp the value it provides to an organisation. 

The impact of such a disconnect can be severe. Without a well-crafted employer brand that aligns your company culture and overarching business objectives, you simply cannot attract and retain the talent required to implement your strategy and remain competitive in today's market. 

Employer brand leaders will continue to struggle to make a persuasive argument that resonates with senior executives if they rely on just citing recruitment metrics. Instead, the case must be made for how strategic employer brand investments can positively impact bottom-line fundamentals like profitability, overheads, shareholder value, and corporate reputation. 

Why Employer Branding matters 

Companies that fail to recognise the importance of employer branding and invest time and resources in it risk losing ground to their competition as they struggle to attract and retain the best and brightest employees.  

While the concept of employer branding has been around for decades, many business leaders still struggle to comprehend its true value and impact on organisational success. 

Is it just about better jobs ads? A nicer website? Better perks? Ticking a few boxes around current trends like diversity or wellbeing? In a word, no. 

A well-executed employer brand strategy aligns your company culture and business objectives and can be the difference between achieving long-term commercial success and an organisation that’s in a constant state of flux, with high levels of churn and the impact on productivity that comes with that. 

Any forward-moving organisation needs great talent to maintain momentum and a compelling employer brand can be the deciding factor not just in attracting high-performing individuals to your organisation – but keeping them in your organisation. 

Veterinarian business VCA for example, had a problem attracting the professional people it needed and, as an extremely specialist profession, competition in the industry is fierce. 

It had an issue with its employer brand. Of the people VCA was trying to recruit, 50% said they would reject them outright.

The problem wasn’t the culture of the company or what it offered employees as a package. It was about perception. In other words, employer branding. 
New-look branding and messaging that said “The future of veterinary medicine is in your hands" centred on impact, purpose and belonging behind the roles resonated with its candidate audience.  

Find out more about it here 

In addition, Tech brand Kainos, wanted to raise awareness as an employer of choice in key talent markets and grow its talent community by 15%. 

Through a strategic digital campaign showcasing its culture, growth, and development, it improved its retention rate by 151% in the first eight weeks of the campaign launch. All applicable metrics went up. Reach improved by 121%; applicant per role by 26% and returning job seekers were up 210%. 

Without a strong and authentic employer brand that resonates with your workforce, you risk losing employees to competitors that may have an employee value proposition that resonates more. 

There should be only one reason to deploy an employer brand strategy - to improve the performance of the organisation by solving problems that are preventing stability, capability, and growth.  

If the stated aim is for any other reason than that, then it becomes harder, if not impossible, to convince business leaders of its true, strategic value.  

Making the business case for Employer Branding 

Proving out the business efficacy of employer brand still hasn't been completely defined.

Employer brand leaders need to speak the language of senior leaders and add context, research, statistics, and data that is irrefutable. Most of all, they need to demonstrate the impact,  urgency, return on investment and the risk of not working more strategically when it comes to your employer brand. 

So how to do it?

Map out the landscape 

Highlight recent changes in the global labour market, such as remote work trends and the increasing importance of company culture as a differentiator. Use this to set the stage for why employer branding is crucial now.

Key Trends Driving Change 

Discuss trends such as the rise in employee advocacy and social media's role in shaping company reputations.  

Potential Threats or Opportunities 

Point out the risks of a weak employer brand, such as high turnover rates and poor customer perceptions, and the opportunities a strong employer brand presents, like improved engagement and innovation.  And outline the competitive landscape. 

Vision and Ambition 

Clearly define the current state of the company’s employer brand and the aspirational future state. 

Link the employer branding strategy directly to the business’s overall strategy. 

A strong employer brand shields against talent market shifts, avoiding the loss of top talent to rivals, increased outreach costs, and declined offer acceptance. Prioritising your employer brand mitigates these risks, reduces hiring expenses, and maintains your company’s status as a preferred employer. 

Explain the long-term competitive advantage. 

Hypothesis for the Work 

State what you believe improving the employer brand will achieve. Address important challenges the organisation faces.  Ask how it affects the people within it. 

Cost vs. Benefit Analysis 

Underline the consequences of not investing in the project while quantifying the potential benefits of developing a strong employer brand.  

Address its intended effect on specifics such as talent attraction, reputation, brand awareness, market share, recruitment costs and so on. 

Show your workings  

Outline a detailed breakdown of expected financial inputs and outcomes over a five-year plan. 

Run the numbers and show the investment required and the potential return in the short, medium, and long term. 

Also outline the risks involved linked to market forecasts and anticipated trends and how you will react to potential scenarios. 

Employer branders assemble! 

Once budget is secured, choose an agency, build your internal team, and confirm an action plan with key delivery milestones.  

Useful stats

To help make a more watertight case, here are a few recent numbers on why employer brand strategy works…

Companies that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make a quality hire.  (LinkedIn)

88% of job seekers take a company's employer brand into account when applying for a job (LinkedIn). 

84% of companies believe that a well-maintained employer brand helps them hire quality talent.  (Gitnux)

72% of recruiting leaders around the world agree that employer branding has a significant impact on hiring. (TalentLyft)

64% of job seekers won't apply if a company lacks an online presence (CareerArc)

Employees aligned with their company's mission and values are 67% more engaged (Gallup)

Employer branding can also lead to a 28% increase in retention rates (LinkedIn)

48% of job seekers use social media to research a company’s culture (CareerBuilder)

High employee engagement can reduce absenteeism by 41%, increase productivity by 17%, and boost profitability by 21% (PeopleElement)

80% of talent acquisition managers believe that employer branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent (Gitnux)

 Industry thoughts

We asked some employer brand practitioners to relay their experience of getting buy-in for projects…

Corinne Wilhelm, Communication Coach 

“Despite the huge shortage of talent, particularly in technology, the commitment to recruitment and staff loyalty seems lacklustre. It's as if many employers are still in denial or simply slow to adapt. In the minds of many, a strong brand in the eyes of the employee is a strong employer brand. Given the growth of Glassdoor and in the German speaking areas known as DACH, a company can no longer ride the wave anymore; social proof is increasing transparency - a good thing - and it is increasingly apparent that strong brands are often lousy employers.” 

Sunaree Komolchomalee, Head of HR, Cupid PR 

 “Business leaders need to see the tangible benefits that employer branding can deliver. The financial loss from failed hires, regardless of business size, can be significant. This is particularly so when dealing with multiple failures due to lack of employer branding. Conversely, clever employer branding brings access to previously untapped talent pools. Higher quality hires bring with them cost savings, the ability to scale quicker and smarter, and new ideas. In my experience, stressing the financial wins helps to sell the concept of employer branding to leadership teams."  

Baruch Labunski, Founder at Rank Secure 

“The problem is they see the initial cost without seeing how it directly brings in more revenue. 

“Branding isn't sales. It's a long-term marketing concept that will help a business over time. It isn't tied to a revenue generator that you can identify and connect with the branding plan. Business leaders prefer sales strategies that bring quick short-term results that affect the bottom line visibly.” 

Vit Koval, Global Hiring & Remote Work Advocate at Globy 

“I make sure I have data-driven pitches really linked to our business objectives; I have case studies and projections to justify it, with metrics that show ROI very clearly in branding initiatives. Very often, though, the trick is to engage key stakeholders at the start, seek their input, and address their concerns up front. This way, we are able to make the linkage of employer branding with the strategic goals and how it can be a solution for very specific business challenges in a way that these undertakings will be seen as an investment, not mere spending.” 

Alexandria Agresta, Leadership Development Expert at Business Party Consulting 

 “To secure long-term investment and approval from the team, there's a need to be a bridge connecting branding strategies seamlessly to the broader company vision. This ensures not only initial approval but long-lasting commitment, fostering a culture where employer branding becomes ingrained as a strategic driver of success.” 

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