2018 was truly explosive for the employer brand industry, really it was the year that we saw the strategy move from an emerging and leading-edge solution, to one that is now adopted by small and large organizations across a variety of industries worldwide. It was also a year that more than doubled the volume of Employer Brand leadership functions internally, demonstrating that this is no passing trend, but a strategy that companies realize has the potential to shape their people and talent solutions well into the future.
As an industry we have much to celebrate in terms of how far we have come, how much practitioners have developed, and how significant the impact has been on elevating the role of HR and Brand. The beginning of the year also allows us the opportunity to reflect on what more we could do, what Employer Branding Trends and best practices are emerging, and where we have the opportunity to be the strategic culture and change makers we are driven to be. This is our opportunity, to be honest about what we are doing well as an industry and where we will see more focus in the months ahead.
Although there has been rapid adoption globally over the last 5 years, 75% of organizations, have applied the work exclusively to external recruitment marketing programs and practices, and have failed to apply it to the internal culture, communications and employee experience. Looking back, it’s easy to understand why this has been the sole focus of organizations. Conversations about the war for talent have loomed large, recruitment and talent acquisition teams have demanded more marketing driven solutions to meet the productivity and growth demands they are tasked with, and there has been an onslaught of recruitment and talent attraction software launched into the market.
As a result, the bulk of the conversations, and solutions discussed on Employer Branding have been led by those in talent attraction. In turn, much of the ownership, budget and direction of the employer brand strategy has been led by Talent Acquisition and marketing divisions, who tend to measure recruitment and candidate metrics, quality of hire, social content engagement, and careers site analytics. Don’t get us wrong, this has been a great approach that has served many organizations well. The external impact of employer branding on brand awareness, preference, share of voice and talent attraction is a major reason that companies should invest in the strategy, analytics and ongoing focus on the work.
The tides are quickly shifting though as more and more executives are desperately seeking solutions that elevate engagement and reduce turnover in a meaningful way. In our 2018 Employer Brand survey, we learned that the retention and engagement was the second biggest reason that CEOs agreed to invest in the work, so it is ever so important that 24 months later there are some measurable results internally.
2019 will see a massive refocus on aligning the EVP and employer brand internally to drive performance cultures and a branded employee experience. This means that we are seeing employer brand leaders take on more change management, internal communications and culture work. But it is not all internal and culture alignment, there are some really exciting shifts happening in the external branding, social storytelling and advertising side as well. Here are our predictions on the 6 trends that will drive employer brand strategy in the year ahead.
6 Ways To Leverage Employer Branding Trends Within Your Organization in 2019
1. Employer brand and Talent Personas Will Drive the Culture Strategy.
Corporate culture is a living and organic entity, and it is unique to the DNA of each company, its leadership and its employees. The idea of a copy-paste culture solution that is based on what an awards program says are best practices does not work long term. Your best culture and employee experience must align with the promise made to the talent that joins, to the strategic vision of where the company is headed, and to the unique needs and expectations of the individuals that make up a company. We will see more culture leaders design micro-cultures based on divisions and personas. As opposed to a culture solution that is a one-size fits all global strategy, personas and Segmented EVPs will rule the culture strategy landscape and allow the unique needs of divisions, locations and brands to be elevated as the employee experiences are branded.
2. The Growth of Internal Brand Ambassador Programs and Employee Hospitality Leaders.
We see a growing demand for more internal brand ambassador programs focused on grassroots communication, recognition and rewards, and engagement solutions. We have all seen the shift in terms of customers demanding and receiving more personalized product offerings and solutions. We have all seen the rising demand for immediate communications and resolution of customer issues. This shift is occurring rapidly inside organizations to elevate the employee experience. HR continues to move away from administration and is more focused on elevating trust, the employee voice and providing more personalized support. Think of this as an internal customer service department. Expect to see an expansion of HR employer brand training and ambassador programs. Expect to see a dramatic rise in employee hospitality leaders and internal chatbots.
3. Employer Brand Data Analytics That Work.
We all know the saying that ‘what gets measured, gets managed and accomplished’. Unfortunately, in early years, few organizations had the tools to effectively measure with regularity how the employer brand investment was impacting the big picture business results. Due to customer demand to get an employer brand scorecard and dashboard that would track the ongoing impact of an employer brand strategy on internal and external results, Blu Ivy’s Employer Brand Dashboard was launched at the end of 2018. This dashboard provides insight like never before and metrics that are tracked over time to measure the positive growth of your Employer Brand Awareness, Preference, Reputation, Employee Experience, Engagement and Loyalty. KPIs are established and regularly tested with your key stakeholders and live reputation and external talent data are collected. We also include specific insights and action items for your organization. This approach allows organizations to take stock of where they are making improvements, benchmark against industry and have a clear roadmap of how to modify and improve to ensure an evergreen and high impact employer brand solution. We foresee that this will be one of the fastest growing investments that HR and employer brand leaders make in 2019.
4. Employer Brand Creative Campaigns Refreshed and More Approachable.
We often get asked how often a company should do an employer brand refresh. Although an employer brand that has been used for any more than 3 years is certainly a cause to refresh, age is not the only factor to consider. Is the design on your careers site, and recruitment marketing material and internal employee communications outdated or causing little conversation? Is it compelling to the talent and demographics you want to attract? Is it aligned to the vision and direction of where the company is headed? If the answer is no to any of those questions, or if you are uncertain of whether it is connecting, now is the time to do market research or refresh some or all of your employer brand assets. 2019 will also see a shift in creative style and tone of voice. As more organizations seek to connect based on personas, to build relationships through social communications and to establish trust and personality, we will see brand campaigns add more humour and approachability, with far less focus on re-imaging the corporate messages.
5. Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest will be the fastest rising social media platforms.
Let’s face it, few organizations have truly taken advantage of the employer brand building and talent communication opportunities available on social media outside of LinkedIn. The challenge here is that most target talent audiences are not on LinkedIn as much during the day as they are on the above platforms so your reach and awareness are limited by using a single platform. The above-mentioned platforms are the fastest growing, most used social platforms for demographics below the age of 40 and who have an interest in digital, graphic design or creative. They also are far more effective at long format content, and as such allow employers a better storytelling stage to get your EVP and careers story in their hands. With rapidly dwindling engagement in newsfeed social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as employer brand platforms, expect to see exciting growth in 2019 in video and long format employer branding.
Programmatic Media Buying and reporting to drive high results campaigns are commonplace. As many of the best employer brands will tell you, a social and job placement strategy alone is not enough to drive a dramatic shift in talent applications during peak campaigns. A well planned and executed media buy that is able to adapt real-time with machine learning, is able to quickly adapt and refine to best target your talent audience, and that provides real-time transparent performance analytics that are critical to campaign performance and results. Employer brand campaigns need to cross multiple job boards, social platforms and broad digital sites where your unique personas reside to have the greatest impact. A mix of targeted PPC ads will be critical to your market success. In order to drive the greatest results and return on campaign ad budgets, we will see a continued explosion in this area in 2019.
6. Learn Which Employer Branding Trends in 2019 Will Make the Most Impact For Your Organization.
Did one of these trends resonate with you and current objectives at your organization? Are you at the early stages of building an EVP and employer brand? Is employer branding something you need to refresh or improve on this year? We are beyond passionate about helping companies and leaders learn and drive real results with this work and would be delighted to connect with you. Contact Blu Ivy to chat with an Employer Branding Consultant and learn how we can help you attract and retain top talent through an employer branding strategy.
Contact us online or call 647-308-2352 to get started today!