A lot of emphasis, and money, is given to corporate branding. But, as the global competition for talent only grows more challenging, organisations are realising the importance of not only their product image, but their reputation as an employer.

Lilly Liang, Vice President of Human Resources for Asia Pacific and Africa at Nike, discusses how to become an employer of choice.

A company’s employer brand is how people perceive an organisation as a place to work. It’s different than a product or business reputation. A product or business reputation keeps existing customers coming back and attracts new ones, whereas an employer brand keeps existing employees and attracts new talent to the organisation, which helps to keeps recruitment and training costs low.

Increasingly, organisations are asking whether their reputation as an employer lines up with how they want to be perceived. Even though an organisation may have a powerful consumer brand, it pays to invest in effective employer branding.

Brands That are Attractive

What are the key elements that make a company an employer of choice? Certain brands hold a special place in the hearts and minds of consumers universally. These are the brands that hold one of the few coveted positions as an attractive or aspirational brand in the industry in which the business operates. Take for example brands that are so entwined with the daily routines of consumers, that for many, the brand becomes an extension of their personal identity. This element of brand attractiveness resonates with consumers as well as current and aspiring future employees.

Brands That Innovate and Experiment

Organisations that are true global employers of choice also have a culture of innovation and experimentation that is hard to ignore. In an age where certain aspects of start-up culture are emulated across a broad range of organisations, including some of the more traditionally bureaucratic organisations, any hint or sign of innovation and experimentation within a business becomes a strong selling point.

Lilly Liang, Vice President of Human Resources for Asia Pacific and Africa at Nike, shared this about innovation at Nike: “As a consumer brand organisation, we create the demand instead of following the trend and this is enabled by our culture of innovation.” This deliberate and proactive pursuit of innovation does not go unnoticed. Current employees, who take pride in the fact, and aspiring employees desire to be part of a trend-setting global leader.

Brands That Offer Compelling Careers

Organisations that offer not only jobs, but meaningful careers are also viewed as employers of choice. Although it’s more common now for employees to hop from one company to the next to seek out new opportunities and advance their careers, organisations that can provide career development are looked upon favourably. The most competitive organisations utilise the power of storytelling to create a narrative around career advancement opportunities. Whether it’s vertical or horizontal career progression or international mobility, an organisation’s ability to provide meaningful careers signals that they care about developing a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with their workforce, and this in turn makes them employers of choice.

Who Owns Employer Branding?

Opinions vary widely about who in the organisation is responsible for creating and fostering an employer brand. Liang believes that “the C-suite is critical to the equation and HR and Marketing need to work hand-in-hand to develop a strong employer brand.”

Looking at the current state of employer branding one thing is for certain: to have a fighting chance in attracting quality candidates, the C-suite, HR and Marketing need to work collaboratively to build a strong employer reputation.