Employer Branding denotes a company’s reputation as an employer. The term was used first in the 90’s, and has become widely adopted by the global management community. [ref: Wiki page]
In a 2013 survey by ERE, of the 4,700 talent acquisition decision makers, there was a 50% cost-per-hire savings with a strong employer brand. It’s no longer just about creating a Facebook page or adding photos to your career site. Your Employer Brand directly impacts your ability to attract and retain talent. It’s critical that employers are promoting their brand where today’s job seekers are looking for information.
If you don’t manage your employer brand (ie. have you head in the sand) – the story will be written for you. Your employees are already going to sites like Glassdoor to write what they think about what it’s like to work at your company.
The way people find jobs and research companies has changed. Today, candidates want to know everything about your company before they even apply for a job because they are seeking transparency and authenticity in their search. Candidates want to know as much as possible about an organization. We live in a communication rich time where people can grab information, share information and communicate at any time.
1) 51% new employees have buyer’s remorse, 88% looking to leave within 6 months because hiring process failed to paint accurate picture of job. As a result, today’s candidates are looking for more than just the employer’s perspective (career site, job description, recruiter conversations). They’re seeking out information from new channels that didn’t exist even 5 years ago and actually putting more trust in. According to Nielson Research, 70% trust online reviews and ratings as a source of brand information
2) Today’s candidates are no different. 95% say reviews from those on the inside are influential when deciding where to work. And a company’s reputation has more of an impact than you might expect. This is one reason why employee referrals are so important now a days. Along with other sourcing mediums.
3) 69% of today’s candidates wouldn’t take a job with a company that had a bad reputation… even if they were UNEMPLOYED! 84% would consider leaving their current job if offered another role at a company that had an excellent reputation, and most in the $75-$100K salary range would only require a 1-10% salary increase to consider the job.
What’s this mean? A company’s employer brand reputation directly impacts their ability to attract and retain top talent So it’s critical that employers are promoting their brand where today’s job seekers are looking for it
First and foremost, conveying your employment brand story starts with your very own people. That means we strive to highlight the true experiences of our people. When I decided to explore our employer brand, I realized that I could spend days in meetings with my execs and the marketing department OR I could talk to the employees about why they STAY here.
“Brands fail because they are devoid of authenticity.” This is a phrase that has been thrown around a lot but what does it mean? Originality, genuine, legitimate, real? That in theory is the definition of authentic. However, in branding terms, authentic and its synonyms are all buzzwords marketers use to sell. What authenticity relates to in terms of branding is a very simple concept: brands are no longer the property of the businesses they represent; they are the property of the consumer or in the case of candidates, they are the property of the Employees and the candidates who live it and market it every day.Through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Glassdoor, Trip Advisor, Yep etc., consumers have a gluttonous accessibility to brands. Therefore the only way to be “authentic” is to be malleable and shape your brand around your “customers” wants, needs, and problems.
When I graduated university I helped a friend open a restaurant while I was looking for a job. He had a business manager that said one thing to be that I will never forget. One customer who has a bad experience will tell 10 people, one customer who had the best experience will tell only one or 2 people.
Knowing this statement was really the driving force when it came to our message, and how we recruited. We wanted people who were passionate about their jobs, and the impact their jobs had on our mission. We don’t pay at the 95p, we don’t cover tuition to do your masters, we don’t provide you with unlimited vacation. But we do offer you an opportunity to do with you love, and help us show our customers what we love. People want to work with other awesome people, we needed to show them why we are awesome. It is important to note here that we are awesome but we are awesome to only certain people, not everyone is buying what we are selling and that’s ok too!
And now I would like to launch in to the Achievers story and tell you a little bit about the evolution of our brand.
Achievers is a 12 year old business born in Toronto Canada. We have gone through 3 rounds of financing, with our Series C from Sequoia Capital. We have received the most funding a company in our space has seen and we are growing rapidly across North America and just made our first few hires in Europe. Achievers delivers the only true cloud-based Employee Success Platform™, a powerful new way for companies to engage, align, and recognize employees, enabling remarkable business success. Every day. The culture for us is infectious. We pride ourselves on eating our on dog food so our culture is around recognition, feedback, communication. We ran fast but we celebrate always! I would say that in a word we hire passion. We want you to be passionate about your impact, your job, and our business. We can teach you the rest. When it comes to our brand, we certainly had one in place it just wasn’t defined. I think anyone you asked at that time would have told you they knew what we did, why they worked here and it would be the same as what another person said, it just wasn’t communicated, owned or grown. I would also say it was a transparent but perhaps not an authentic brand.
We seemed like we were rocking and rolling.
Culture- we had it, our employees loved it, they talked about it, we were getting referrals left right and center Top Grades- we use this great interviewing method across the business as the final interview stage and it truly shows us the patter of success and passion level of a candidate. Flexible Work Environment- we offered a first date dress code, flexible work times, Career Site- had our career site written and selling us ATS- and we were using out ATS for all our tracking. Things were just moving along.
Gen Y work force had gotten us to where we were, 150 people, 80-100% growth year after year, 99% client retention rate, 81% net promoter and the most capital ever raised in our industry.
We were still running into issues all over our website it said things like “you are able to be promoted based on performance” well that is in fact true but not in a 6 month period. We had to massage our messaging around what we offered, and who we were. We were hiring in SF with no brand at all, AND we didn’t offer anything from a perks perspective that another tech start up didn’t offer “hello candidate, we offer lunches, are backed by sequoia, offer flex time, oh and we have unlimited drinks?” We needed to sell our passion, our culture, and our product!!! We needed to reach remote hires. We began to hire remote sales and account managers across the US. They needed to identify with our brand from a remote office, feel connected to us as an employer and the only way to do that is to provide them the EXACT experience they thought they were going to have. We were growing up. Our average age was 30 and we were trying to add more senior, experienced people to the business BUT they had to buy into our culture, they had to want to be the culture, they had to have the same passion.
- Alignment: What recruiters and hiring managers were saying in their interviews was consistent on what we were advertising - Characteristics- who we were looking for and how we hired was consistent across the business. We ran out hiring manager training to ensure that not only the hiring managers understood this, but that their interview team did as well. We still run out that training every 2 years with new managers. - Company site needed more information about our locations, what it felt like to be in the office, what our departments were and why they were called that We needed to reword our job postings to accurately describe our culture: we ensured that our postings spoke about our company but at the end, it had to do with what it felt like to be in our company, why be here and more importantly, why that department Social: did we have the right mediums carrying out our branding message? We were using out ATS to ensure we were posting socially but we wanted to ensure we had the social branding piece. So we began to Social: We were using Jobvite and already social through our employee base for jobs BUT were missing the social branding piece. We launched our social recruiting strategy more aggressively to speak about culture, our business, our space and our product. The hope was to stay relevant. We also decided to use the Jobvite Engage product which is a candidate CRM essentially to market to our pipelines for certain roles, and specifically to our employee referrals.
**These were a couple quick fixes we needed to make. Now I will dive in to the 5 steps to ensuring your brand stays transparent
We needed to figure out what it took to build an authentic and transparent brand.
Mandatory hiring manager training to ensure the front lines are consistent with your message Answer recruiter questions – make sure you are available and that your message is one that will stick Onboarding process can help you uncover why people decided to work for you! Facebook includes a link to Glassdoor after every new hire they make to report back about the hiring process
KATE: When we started to think about our “Brand” we went down a road of thinking of this EVP that would resonate with everyone, an EVP that would inspire people to work with us. To be truly honest I am not sure we even have that now after all of our efforts.
I had myself and my team in a room asking them what they think, and all we could talk about was who we wanted to hire. It dawned on me, it really isn’t about telling people who you want, its who you have. Those who you have, that are driving your business, who are building your culture, who are promoting your business and who are engaged and passionate about Achievers. Who are they? Because we want more of them and they are our Brand! That to us was the authentic brand, was just saying who we are. No gimmicks, no sales tricks. We wanted to find the people we liked, have them resonate with our brand because it is who they are, and then when they started with us have them feel no pain because everything meets their expectations.
Step 1 is figuring out who are you and what are you all about? Who do we want to hire?
The mentality now when hiring into Achievers was to have an employee settle in…in a startup its about “buckling in” so we want to minimize that ride by hiring the right employees who are interested in staying.
We’re hearing it everywhere – recruiting and marketing are becoming one in the same. As a recruiter, you have to be able to market your strengths and message to the talent that you are trying to reach. We at Achievers tweaked our messaging sure, but we evolved our mediums. Its important to think social as we hear ALL day long but we also wanted to ensure the content we were pumping out was something that would resonate with who we wished to hire.
Example: if going after millennials or Gen Y, you need to do your homework and see what matters most to them Millennials have a whole new set of expectations. Studies show that almost half of the workforce will be made up of millennials by the year 2020, and they will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 (Source: Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, 2011). Millennials, an abbreviation for millennial generation, is a term used by demographers to describe a segment of the population born between 1980 and 2000 (approximately). Millennials come from a generation of transparency from rating their college professors to receiving their grades instantly online; this is an audience unused to having to look hard for information they need or want. They also care more about the culture and fit, growth potential, and work/life balance over compensation. This audience is more entrepreneurial than any other generation. They want to feel that their work is making a difference in the overall growth of a company.
We specifically thought about our business. We are high growth tech, did 138 hires in a year, most recent quarter was 37 permanent and 20 interns. I thought of characteristics of successful people in our business. Narrowed it down to 5 and then educated the business on them. These are not our values, or role specific characteristics (i.e. a developer vs a sales guy) they are to be successful in the Achievers environment you must have what? Once we had finalized the 5 characteristics we needed to ensure it showed up everywhere. Mandatory hiring manager training Answer recruiters’ questions Onboarding - “Why are you here?”
Sites like Glassdoor help you uncover any common trends Exit interviews and internal surveys can be helpful too: we found that career opportunities was an issue in exit interviews but we were growing so fasst with so many roles this was confusing. We had to get to the bottom of it. If you are losing talent, you need to evaluate why and respond to and fix those problems immediately – don’t wait!
Now as a recruiter, this might sound daunting, but Glassdoor has word clouds and other insights to make this a lot easier for you, but you need to fully understand all the pros of working for your great company, and all the cons….no place is perfect, so you should never be discouraged. Take this as a learning opportunity.
83% of organizations suffer from a deficit in recognition, according to a study by Bersin & Associates (June 2012) Companies with recognition programs are highly effective at improving employee engagement and see 31% lower voluntary turnover than their peers with ineffective recognition programs Saying thank you for reviews and feedback can go a long way! Your employees want to feel that they are contributing to the overall growth and success of your company
Once you’ve met a candidate’s basic needs (enough money to live on, a safe environment), extra money doesn’t make a difference. Move up the pyramid to satisfy their higher needs.
Discuss what tactics employers use to Aim Higher
We’re becoming a culture in which people expect to be rewarded for drawing breath and taking up space, which makes the job of an HR pro or business leader tasked with employee retention a difficult one indeed. If many of your employees expect routine and social praise and “badges”, how can you recognize extraordinary achievement? When should recognition and reward be linked? In many organizations recognition and financial reward are joined at the hip. An employee does something above and beyond and receives a gift card or a lunch with the boss; a team achieves a goal and is rewarded with a party. These rewards, however, can backfire; they tell the employee that he or she is worth n dollars to the organization for some level of effort. In my opinion this approach misses the point of recognition: people are motivated by more than money. People crave positive feedback, recognition they put in extra effort, acknowledgement of leaders and peers, the glow that comes with knowing an achievement has been seen, appreciated and celebrated. I love this place. But I’m also realistic as I look at ways leaders can recruit and truly nurture current and future talent.
Financial reward is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the equivalent of recognition. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a short term solution. Neither is constant praise for average work. Recognition is a key tool in employee retention programs for a reason: people need more than constructive feedback and positive affirmation. They need recognition of extra effort. They need to “feel” it. This will never go away as a basic human need.
We promote our recognition program as part of recruitment, we train our new employees on the program and what recognition is, we also incent our employee referrals at every step of the process and recognize them for their new hire!
Here is a slide that talks through my previous points.
Propagate the message on sites like Glassdoor, Facebook and Twitter Consumers have a gluttonous accessibility to brands. Therefore the only way to be “authentic” is to be malleable and shape your brand around your “customers” wants, needs, and problems. Include authentic reviews on your career site (Example: Lithium includes Glassdoor testimonials on their site) We at Achievers put a link to glassdoor so you can see our reviews. We also comment on our reviews to ensure there is further transparency and understanding of why certain people experienced certain things. For instance we had some concerns around leadership in some of our reviews but we commented that we had added new leadership to the existing leadership to broaden our reach and abilities.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! It’s crucial that you are writing the story about your employer brand. 94% of candidates are interested in what the employer has to say on what makes you a great place to work, so make it easy and accessible to all your fans. Record it in videos and get that story out there!
Let me tell you a quick story about my glassdoor journey: I was completely against it at first. If a candidate decides to apply or not, interview or not with my company because of what a few people wrote about my business (who by the way are likely ex employees who we let go) then they aren’t our kind of people. I pushed Glassdoor off for a while when their sales reps would call. We didn’t even really pay much attention to our “free” account, it was outdated and boring. Enter in our CRO who was taking the existing sales team of 10 to 27 in less then a year. He had an Entperise Sales rep with over 15 years of experience decline to interview due to what our glassdoor account said. Well guess who the CRO called when he heard that? Oh ya! I had to stop being so stubborn and learn quickly what Glassdoor could offer. I still went into my agreement with Glassdoor as skeptical as I had been before. I signed up for a 6 month trail to see really what their impact would be. We spruced up our information, got recent photo’s and then we actually posted our roles with them. We made two hires in 5 months! That’s big!! Now look at me, I am here speaking at a conference with their GM introducing me.
Analytics are important in determining whether or not your employer brand is resonating. Learn from what people are saying about you. See how they are viewing you vs. your competitors. We share these quarterly analytics from Glassdoor to the company. It isn’t just us that owns this brand and they need to see how we are trending. We also measure our unique visitors who come to the career site from all our various mediums (linkedin, google plus, instagram etc) Lastly we put unique links into all our social media pushes for specific jobs to track how they did. We measure open rates of email in our ATS to see if people are paying attention in our pipeline groups. Those that tend to open more often get contacted personally by us the minute a role opens.
When it comes to results I would say that a few major things happened for us: Recruiters and managers had alignment which was great! We still have to remind them but we have made that effort and we have a foundation to work off of Candidate assimilate to the business faster, we noticed our 30/60/90 day onboarding check ins with employees stated they got what they were expecting when they joined Our referral rates have stayed the same if not slightly better we have made some dynamite hires remotely and up’d our average age to 34! Can you believe that? We had actually had MANY candidates tell the recruiters the reason they applied was our glassdoor account and NOT our company career site! That says a lot.
What’s next for Achievers? We have an action plan!
Focus on recruiting millennials- we can’t avoid these guys. We need to ensure we offer them what they need and promote the programs we have to grow them. Localization: We have made our first hire in Europe. How we grow the EMEA team, and ensure they are just an extension of our culture will be largely focused on WHO we hire, and we need to ensure that not only do we continue to hire the right people but to attract the Achievers we want in EMEA we need to ensure our authentic brand speaks in a relevant way to all the countries in Europe that we are looking to grow into. This is a huge piece for us We need to audit: a brand isn’t a set and forget. We change our recruitment process often, we add new perks, we get an new office, we have a cool new event or something to talk about. We need to audit what we currently have and INNOVATE upon it. Its not always about scrapping what you have, just innovating or evolving it. Go Mobile: our company site isn’t mobile enabled from a careers perspective so that’s a huge point of concern for me.
What does the evolution look like? After all, your brand is a constant evolution. Your business makes one change, it impacts your brand focus. -Growth and scaling: Across the business, as we grow at 80-100% a year, scaling our business is a HUGE focus. We need to ensure our office spaces, technologies and business rhythms scale to that size. When it comes to our brand, we first and foremost need to not loose WHO we hire. Culture will grow and evolve which is a good thing. We can’t loose WHO we hire as they are why we have our culture. It comes from the people, its authentic, transparent and it builds itself with the right people. If we hold tight on WHO we hire, and we continue to take our authentic culture and brand it to the market, we should scale just fine. And now I would like to pass things on over to Kelly to wrap up and talk about Open Company!
What does the evolution look like? After all, your brand is a constant evolution. Your business makes one change, it impacts your brand focus. -Growth and scaling: Across the business, as we grow at 80-100% a year, scaling our business is a HUGE focus. We need to ensure our office spaces, technologies and business rhythms scale to that size. When it comes to our brand, we first and foremost need to not loose WHO we hire. Culture will grow and evolve which is a good thing. We can’t loose WHO we hire as they are why we have our culture. It comes from the people, its authentic, transparent and it builds itself with the right people. If we hold tight on WHO we hire, and we continue to take our authentic culture and brand it to the market, we should scale just fine
With today’s candidates doing more research then ever, providing and accurate and transparent view of your company is more important then ever and we wanted to create a program to recognize companies that embrace these ideals.
How Achievers is embracing transparency to win is actually through a new program that Glassdoor just launched called OpenCompany. You just have to complete 5 simple steps and you get a badge on Glassdoor that highlights you are a company that preaches transparency.