A key benefit of employer branding is gaining a competitive advantage in the employment market. Each development stage is more demanding on know-how, resources and execution. This article discuss the major employer branding trends I see in 2017 in the Czech Republic.
The conflict in the employment market is raging ever so intensely. There have always been too few top talent and today, it is not only top talent that is hard to source, it is happening at all levels. Former miners are getting retrained as coders, shop clerks as welders and pastry cooks as operators in car factories (how sweet those cars will be).
The range of weapons used in this war for talent is wide – from air rifles to heavy calibers. From better recruitment ads and career websites all the way to including employees in company culture strengthening projects and referral programs.
Companies who need to fight with heavy weapons are starting to invest in Employer Branding. Or they've already started long ago. These companies don't want to leave anything to chance. They want to drive their business with a long-term vision. They want to underpin what the company’s competitive advantage will be more and more about people, their talents, and the teams into which they'll be able to assert their talent.
So what can we look forward to in employer branding in 2017 in the Czech Republic? Just like last year — look at my employer branding trends prediction in 2016 and rate how well I've polished my crystal ball last year — I haven't conducted any big survey nor did source the following 5 trends from foreign news articles. It's simply an intersection of year-long debates with company owners and HR professionals, of opinions in numerous articles and surveys, and of my own vision. The trends (see figure 1) are not listed in order of importance.
1. A CHANGE OF PRIORITIES / orientation towards CLIENTS -> EMPLOYEES first
It all began once upon time with the founders handing the reins onto the managers and senior leaders. The number one motto in the corporate speech became "Profit for Shareholders". Consider the corporate message of ExxonMobil: "We're committed to being the world's premier petroleum and petrochemical company. To that end, we must continuously achieve superior financial and operating results while simultaneously adhering to high ethical standards." Afterwards, some companies understood that targeting their attention towards the customers would be the key to success. This paradigm of orientation towards clients has been changing abroad for quite a few years already. Only motivated and loyal employees are capable of attracting satisfied and loyal customers. As Simon Sinek says: "Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." "Employees first" will gradually spread further in the Czech Republic in 2017 as a model of cooperation between companies and people.
2. FROM MEDICATION TOWARDS HOLISTIC MEDICINE / a focus on ATTRACTION -> RETENTION of current employees
The past few years have seen the majority of companies in the Czech Republic focusing on approaching candidates, which is the first function of employer branding (attract -> engage -> retain). This year we've witnessed a rise in recruitment campaigns that promised wage increases well above union requirements (see figure 1). The offer of employee benefits has also been extended. However, a company offer is not only created by hard parameters. When we build an employer brand and create its offer (EVP), we always have to include soft factors that make up the company culture.
In 2017 we will see companies targeting their strategies at current employees. They will start to tackle fluctuation seriously. They will learn to ask in a better way why their people are leaving. The most common answer for leaving is, "I have a better financial offer," but it is hardly the truth. Companies will ponder about their company culture and the inclusion of employees in the creation of meaningful, uniting, and synchronizing activities and thoughts about their companies. Companies who want to build long-term foundations for their employer brand will start by strengthening their company culture.
3. FINER TARGETING / focus on GENERATIONS -> targeting GROUPS
In 2016 there was a lot of talk about preferences of generations Y and Z. Analysis were selling like crazy and the theme was filling up specialist media and conference halls. There were new EVPs (Employer Value Proposition) targeting future graduates with EVP pillars like personal development, internships abroad, social responsibility, work-life balance or friendly culture.
2017 will see companies going further and we'll learn how to adjust those EVPs and target them to specific groups of candidates.
They will be interested in their motivations, needs, fears and perceived benefits of particular offers. Figure 3 is a good examples of how McDonalds targeted individual groups as part of their employer brand strategy in the Czech Republic (McDonald's created its global EVP approximately 10 years ago and is uniquely consistent in fulfilling it). Very inspiring.
4. FROM WORDS TOWARDS ACTIONS / attractive ADS -> terrific EXPERIENCE
In simple terms 2016 was a lot about working on new recruitment ads and career websites capturing an attractive offer to work at the companies. Often we forgot about the basics such as answers to candidates who show an interest in working at our company.
Consider how poor the numbers are in the Czech Republic: 67% of candidates receive a reply about their application within 14 days and only 55% of candidates within 30 days (source: "What does an e-shop have in common with recruitment?").
In 2017 companies will shift the attention from words to deeds, towards the "physical" work with candidates and employees – specifically towards improving the recruitment process and the communication that comes along with it, the first day at work, the welcome packs and the on-boarding. It will be about affirming an attractive offer, transforming this into the employee experience and showcasing this in recruitment ads and on updated career websites.
5. MORE ATTENTION, MONEY AND MEASURING / wide TESTING -> detailed MEASURING
Let's admit it, the performance of recruitment campaigns and communications have been poorly measured over the past years. Too many companies have been concerned with how many likes a post received, whether we can approach our target group on Facebook or Twitter, whether someone will be intrigued by an expensive single post or whether we should use drones to deliver job offers. However, I think there's an end to this now, at least to the extent it has been used previously.
2017 will see more attention and money being invested in employer branding, and therefore also KPIs, measuring and reporting. We'll be setting parameters of successful recruitment communication contents (for example for Facebook: P = 3x comment + 2x share + 1x like) and steer our strategy and publishing plans according to the results. We'll look into Google Analytics reports more frequently and measure the efficiency of recruitment communication content, campaigns and all activities.
I recall the press conference when Nokia announced they were being acquired by Microsoft. Nokia's CEO finished his speech with these words: "We didn't do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost." Nokia used to be a respected company. They didn't do anything wrong, but the world changed quickly nevertheless. The competition was too strong as well.
What can you learn from this story? You should realize that your former competitive advantage could be quickly eroded by future trends. Nothing that you do has to be wrong, until your competition catches up and leverages these trends in their favour. If you failure to adapt you may soon lose your best employees and experience poor financial results, or at worst, go out of business altogether!
I don't know how many companies will adapt to these employer branding trends and leverage them in their favour in 2017. If there aren’t many, it will be unfortunate for their employees. However it will be fortunate for their competitors who will continue to build competitive advantage through their people.