Branding: creating a differentiated name and image in order to establish a presence of attraction. Often mistaken for a strictly marketing tactic, branding has actually become a key component to an organization’s long-term recruiting success. Some businesses competing in today’s talent market have made employer branding an integral piece of their recruiting strategies.

Curiously, however, many organizations have not taken this step.

Despite the significant benefits, employer branding programs directed at current and potential employees aren’t yet widespread. In fact, nearly three out of four HR professionals (73 percent) don’t have such programs in place at their organizations.

Why is this a problem? Increased competition for top talent has altered the balance of the recruiter-candidate relationship, with control being transferred to savvy candidates who evaluate company brands the way they shop online. That’s why communicating the employer brand, especially during the onboarding process, is vitally important to the quality of an organization’s workforce.

In fact, Aberdeen identifies best-in-class organizations as 11 percent more likely to retain first-year employees and 14 percent more likely to have employees who exceed their performance expectations, with those companies that use pre-hire assessments experiencing 39 percent lower turnover rates among high-potential talent.

The good news: Of those organizations without formal employer branding programs, 41 percent are either planning one now or currently considering it.

Rules of Attraction

According to recent research we conducted at SilkRoad, 80 percent of job candidates learn about prospective employers via a website or career site, while 56 percent check Facebook and 29 percent look to Twitter. A well-crafted career portal, a strong social media presence, and current employees who are willing to share open positions with their networks are powerful tools: Companies with strong employer brands attract at least three and a half more applications per job posting than other companies in the same industry.

That same research also indicated that nearly three-quarters of HR pros believe external branding makes it easier to fill job openings, and they’re right. A well-developed employer brand helps potential candidates self-select, giving applicants the information they need to make better decisions regarding whether or not they’ll fit in or be successful at a company. This, in turn, ensures that those who apply align with the mission of the company, saving time for employer and applicant alike.

We’re Engaged

ShoesCongrats on landing the perfect candidate! But don’t get excited yet – more than half of the U.S. workforce is disengaged, according recent Gallup findings. What does this mean? It means branding doesn’t stop when you’ve hired a candidate!

You can continue your employe branding efforts by leveraging an onboarding portal to engage new hires before and during employment. Your onboarding program should:

- deliver a consistent, clear, and concise message about the company to your new hires;

- pair new hires with mentors to bring them into the company in meaningful ways;

- allow new hires to access self-service learning opportunities;

- and connect new hires with dedicated experts, thereby demonstrating the company’s commitment to the new employee’s growth.

Companies with strong employer brands tend to have more engaged employees, but their brands must be authentic. Otherwise, employees will regard branding initiatives cynically. A brand must reflect the real, everyday experiences of the company’s workers.

Authentic internal branding helps boost employee morale and improves overall employee retention. By linking new employees’ success to the company’s success, employers help these employees see their places in the organization. When employees have clearly defined roles, then tend to acclimate to their new organizations more quickly and work more productively during their tenure.

Happily Ever After

The quality of your workforce is affected greatly by how well you communicate your employer brand. Driving engagement and motivation, branding is strongly linked to higher revenues, profit margins, and retention rates of new hires within the organization.

As employer branding gains more steam in recruiting and hiring circles, 2016 could be the tipping point – that moment when the idea crosses a threshold and catches on like wildfire. Even if some of them have yet to implement their own branding initiatives, HR professionals are all recognizing the value of brand management techniques, especially during the recruiting process.

Looking ahead, successful companies that adopt recruitment marketing technologies to strengthen their employer brands will be able to more effectively attract and engage top talent. In particular, implementing a robust and well-crafted career portal should be a top priority for those looking to build strong and engaged workforces in today’s competitive talent market.

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