"... with four generations in the workforce for the first time ever – companies are searching for a new way to distinguish themselves and attract the best of the best."
As the business landscape changes, the need for talent, and the impact it can have on an organization, becomes even more critical. How will you distinguish yourself and attract the best? We believe developing a strong employer brand is the key. Complicating the task is finding a message that resonates with multiple generations who look for different things in a job.
The new geography of talent is transforming human resources strategies. It's time for action! Assess where your program is now and plan to actively manage recruitment to stay competitive. Allegis Global Solutions shares our thoughts on the generationally-diverse talent pool and other trends impacting HR, and how employer branding is giving shape to the future of recruiting.
Pick up a business journal or read an industry blog and you'll find the talent market is facing yet another change. Our workplace, workforce, and our business needs are changing. These alterations have placed pressure on talent acquisition as more organizations vie for top talent and a competitive edge. While there appears to be more talent available than ever – with four generations in the workforce for the first time ever - companies are searching for a new way to distinguish themselves and attract the best of the best. Employer branding has emerged as the solution to our industry's ‘changing' needs.
Addressing a changing workforce with distinct generational segments requires a talent acquisition approach that is strong, flexible and adaptable. Employer branding, a hybrid of marketing principles and recruitment strategies, is unique in that it can be tailored to address any number of variables. Including age, gender or location to skills and preferences - to attract and maintain the workforce companies need to achieve strategic objectives, not simply fill vacancies.
Some 71 per cent of companies are planning to increase or maintain their expenditure on employer branding in the next year. The massive Global Insights Research Study breaks it out, showing in the next two years, organizations plan to invest in:
Employer Branding: The Adaptable Solution
With all the talk about change, technology and strategies, employer branding can sound intimidating and maybe even overwhelming. But the truth about employer branding is just that – the truth. Employer branding is used to show candidates who an organization is and how they operate, revealing the authentic qualities that set them apart from other companies, competitors and jobs.
It helps businesses speak to candidates about more than job descriptions and benefits. An employer value proposition can pique a candidate's interest, draw them towards similarly-minded organizations, and tell the story about what it's like to be an employee at that business, all to help shape candidate expectations. These messages, used consistently, humanize an organization to the target candidate market – often using http://sig.org/images and emotions people can relate to. As we try to attract multiple generations that look at the world of work from different angles we need to ensure our employer brand is clear enough from every vantage point.
Talking About Generations
An effective employer brand can have a real and positive impact on a company's talent acquisition efforts, but one of the challenges organizations face when trying to devise a brand is appealing to the different generations that make up the typical 21st-century business.
There are four key demographics that comprise the modern workplace. Understanding the specific needs of each of these is the first step to developing an effective employer brand. After all, you need to know your audience inside out if you're going to create an appealing brand.
The oldest group is the Mature Generation who were born before 1945. This is the smallest of the demographics in the modern workplace and its influence is reducing steadily.
Then there are the Baby Boomers – people born between 1945 and the mid-1960s. This group is currently prevalent in high-level positions and some of the attributes widely associated with this demographic are a strong work ethic, independence and a strict adherence to traditional hierarchies.
Generation X follows and is comprised of people born in the late 1960s and 1970s. Individuals in this category are largely seen as technologically proficient, ambitious and money driven.
The final key demographic is the Millennials or Generation Y – people born in the 1980s through to the early 21st century. This group is growing in influence and will represent 36 percent of the workforce in 2014 and almost half by 2020. Millennial employees are more tech-focused than any other generation, see flexibility and mobility as imperative and expect their job to provide plenty of opportunities for progression and development.
Understanding each of these groups is key if your employer brand is to appeal to as many candidates as possible.
Change is in the Wind
A quick round-up of the top trends impacting the talent industry underscores the importance of organizations having a plan and acting proactively.
TREND: The global workforce is evolving. Today's workforce and talent pool is not the same one organizations knew even ten years ago. The demographics are different, with Baby Boomers either leaving or delaying retirement, and a wave of 20 to 30-year-old Millennial/ Generation Y workers are just getting started.
The new workforce is more mobile and connected. The rise of technology also means we've seen a shift that emphasizes ‘thinking' over ‘doing'. In the next decade alone, the percentage of college educated talent will continue to grow to as much as 60 per cent in the E7 group of emerging economies - accounting for approximately 217 million workers.
TREND: The motivations of job seekers are changing. A paycheck and an office might not be enough to lure today's top talent. Candidates value opportunities to practice their craft, showcase their talents or enrich their skills over loyalty and longevity within one company. Because these people see their work and employer as a reflection of themselves, they are more likely to care, and seek out information, about a company's social impact and reputation.
TREND: A blend of work and life rather than a balance. Technology plays a major role once again, keeping us connected and available beyond the traditional nine to five, as social media allows us to nurture work relationships during leisure time. Flexibility in the workday and the rising popularity of contingent opportunities means work and leisure time can blend together.
TREND: The rise of the ‘talentsumer.' Job seekers have become talent consumers by “shopping” for employment opportunities. The workforce is more likely to build a career across several companies. They are, in essence, integrating their roles as employee and consumer. “Shopping” is not without costs and employers must foot the bill: a Millennial leaving their job in less than three years costs organizations, on average, $20,000 per person to replace.
Identifying these trends serves as a wakeup call for HR. Each reveals some serious challenges - such as managing a multigenerational workforce, controlling recruitment costs, and even writing new job requirements amid changing technology. You may have already determined today's challenges can't be met with business-as-usual HR. They can, however, be transformed from challenges to opportunities with a strong employer branding plan mapped to key business goals.
The Cream of the Crop: Who will we need?
Workforce trends give us an idea of what's happening now, while job forecasts allow us to glimpse the future. The Society for Human Resource Management has published data on the impact of skill gaps and recruiting. It projected the job categories that will be in demand in the future and are currently lacking in the workplace - including:
Oxford Economics went a step further and published a forecast of the top skills organizations anticipate needing in the next five to ten years. As you review this selection of findings, consider how different candidates, and different generations, might deliver these critical skills. Our industry will need multigenerational talent to have a well-rounded workforce and diversity for the competitive edge.
Skills in Demand
How will you respond to the workforce and demographic changes in our industry? Compare your answers to the results from a 2013 survey of HR professionals by the Society of Human Resource Management. They list the top moves companies are making to adjust for changes.
35% say they are training line managers to respond to generational differences.
32% are implementing employee diversity education programs.
23% are offering more customized benefits packages to employees.
20% are offering employment options designed to create an age-diverse (or age-friendly) workplace.
20% are carrying out studies to determine projected future retirement rates in their organization.
18% are offering employment options designed to attract and retain older workers.
These are valid answers and critical adjustments, but they are short-term tactics. The longer-looking solution exists within employer branding. How would you assess your organization's level of engagement? Do you have a ‘change-proof' plan for the future? Consider where your organization stands with the following:
What is your organization's reputation as an employer?
How are you different / unique from your competition?
Can you define your employer brand?
Do you develop recruitment goals to support business strategies?
Do you have a defined recruitment and retention strategy that supports your organization's business strategy?
Would you categorize your recruitment efforts as proactive or responsive?
Are your hiring managers satisfied?
What impact have your new hires had on your business in the last 12 months?
Is your messaging to potential candidates and your employees consistent?
Do you know what your biggest pain points are in finding talent?
Are you proactively addressing your pain points? Do you know how to address them?
An employer brand can positively impact talent attraction at any stage, helping your organization develop and maintain a diverse, generationally-balanced workforce. The following sections will help you determine what steps you may need to take, and the factors to consider for each level of employer brand development and engagement.
“We need to establish an employer brand”
Considering the number of moving pieces and complexity of today's business environments, just deciding to begin the process of developing an employer brand is a big and positive step. Need some additional proof that employer branding is the future? Consider the benefits that extend beyond recruitment. According to the Gallup Business Journal, companies with highly engaged cultures, which is typical of a well-implemented employer branding plan, have:
Three times higher revenues
12% higher profitability
89% greater customer satisfaction
Employees 50% more likely to exceed expectations
54% greater employee retention
Developing an effective employer brand is an exciting prospect and before you turn on the lights and role the cameras you need to make sure you completely understand the world you are working in:
Employer Brand Audit: Make sure you understand what candidates and potential candidates think of working for you. Would they take a job if offered one, if yes why, if not why not? Are you competing on money or culture? We call this the external perception.
Competitor Analysis: A strong employer brand clearly differentiates you from your competition and the only way to remain unique is to understand how your competition defines itself.
Employer Value Proposition: Capture and define the unique attributes of your culture, what makes working for your company unique and distill that into a clear statement that attracts like-minded others. We call this the internal reality.
After understanding the world around you and having a clear picture of what makes you unique you can then get creative. Look for creative ways to share what makes your company unique while directly addressing the issues you uncovered in the brand audit.
“We're ready to roll out our employer brand fully”
You've carefully crafted your message and laid the ground work for a successful employer brand. So why isn't everyone onboard? According to a 2013 EBI Report one of the biggest challenges that companies face in regards to employer branding is training recruiters and other brand “ambassadors” to implement the brand. p>Getting a solid strategy down on paper is half the battle - many organizations reach this stage but then struggle to actually put their vision into practice. The key to overcoming this hurdle is effective change management.
This is a process that needs to be led from the top and securing the support of executives and line managers is vital. Communication and training are the best ways to achieve this. A training program that clearly communicates the benefits of your employer brand, the impact it will have on company performance and how leaders can implement the changes in their day-to-day actives will help to ensure the strategy is put into practice. Once the brand has the backing of your leaders, rolling it out to recruiters and other departments becomes much easier.
EExisting employees are the final test of a brand. Employees must adopt the behaviors required to deliver the brand promise with ease. Surprisingly, since your brand value proposition should reflect and resonate within staff, this step requires training and specific guidelines, with support materials and leadership examples.
“We're ready for more sophistication”
Your employer brand is not about attracting more people, but rather the right people, who can make an impact. An established employer brand can:
Narrow the funnel, by defining our organizational personality and culture
Create an emotional connection between the company and candidate
Influence employee engagement, by providing a clear vision in a succinct message
Targeting the right candidate
When it comes to what makes work efficient, it is vital for employers to gain an understanding of what motivates people. Although this is now harder than ever before, with four generations present in the modern workplace, it is crucial.
Each demographic has its own unique requirements and these need to be understood if your brand is to appeal to as many people as possible. Flexibility is key as your approach may need to differ depending on the generation of the person in question. For instance, social media is often the best way to target a Generation Y candidate, while more traditional means would be better suited for someone from Generation X or a Baby Boomer.
Understanding the distinctions between generations is vital, but it is also necessary to remember an element of overlapping will always occur and developing a brand that is flexible enough to account for this is important. While segmenting your approach is a good way to tailor your brand towards different demographics, people still need to be treated as individuals rather than just a member of a group.
“Research indicates 69 percent of companies now allow employees to use social media during working hours.”
Tapping into the power of social media Social media has had a significant impact on the workplace. Research indicates 69 percent of companies now allow employees to use social media during working hours. Those workers are among the millions who have established digital identities in online communities. Allegis Global Solutions developed 21st Century Resourcing (21R) to connect organizations to these online candidate personas while relaying the company's employer brand. The platform allows casually interested candidates to join talent communities with a single click. Their existing profiles are used to match job opportunities to individual characteristics, further segmenting communities based on candidates' work history, skills, outside interests and other preferences. The same information can also be used to develop targeted, relevant communications.
Results of 21R underscore the impact social media can have in reaching highly segmented and targeted candidates:
600% improvement in passive candidate activity
48% increase in employee participation in our Employee Referral Program
55% increase in talent community membership quarter over quarter
Using your employer brand to attract X, Y and Me
Employer branding is quickly becoming the new go-to HR strategy for organizations of all sizes and scopes. It offers the solutions needed to attract, and keep, the right mix of talent for business advantage or continued success. It's strong, flexible and adaptable for any changes, trends or generational groups that come next.
One last note on those generations - perhaps the most exciting thing about having to adjust to and accommodate four unique demographics in the workforce at once is that the resulting initiatives make the workplace better for employees of all ages and demographics. So, how will your organization capitalize on the potential of a multi-generational workforce?
About Allegis Global Solutions: Allegis Global Solutions has developed Talent Mapping, a strategic sourcing service that maps out labor markets of interest, identifies qualified candidates and uses targeted, web-based recruitment tactics to engage them. These candidates may not even be looking for a new job, but armed with a compelling employer brand story, skilled recruiters can make a connection to pique their interest. Creating the talent experience It is vital to realize your employer brand is present during every aspect of a candidate’s experience. Everything from the initial job advert to communicating with the organization to arrange an interview shapes an applicant’s perception of the company. For your brand to be a success, the candidate needs to be treated well in every step of the process. Providing prompt and clear communications, offering feedback and making people feel like an individual rather than one of many is what applicants appreciate when job hunting. Candidates that have a positive experience will become brand ambassadors and are more likely to refer the company to others even if they aren’t offered the position, thus strengthening your employer brand and extending its reach.