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The Challenge of Employer Branding for SMEs

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Take a leaf out of the multi-national playbook and stand out against your competition as employers of choice.

In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of talk about employer branding.  For those not familiar with the concept of the employer brand it is helpful to use a few example companies as illustrations: Google, Apple, PWC, Amazon, L’Oreal, Starbucks.  In all likelihood, even if you have no first-hand experience of employment at one of those companies, you will be able to make a comment about what it is like to work for at least one of them.  Employer branding is the process via which a company makes itself attractive to its target group of employees, those people who it has earmarked as having the necessary qualities to help the company achieve its strategic objectives.  

However, employer branding is not only in the domain of the multi-national.  If you think about the employers in your local area or in your industry, you will surely be able to identify those who are most successful at promoting themselves as employers of choice.  Perhaps there’s a law firm that sets itself apart as the most prestigious to work for in the town, a manufacturing company known for its flexible hours and high staff retention, a technology company reputed to award swift promotions.

So as an SME is it possible to improve your employer branding without the huge budgets available to multi-nationals?  The following are some simple, cost-efficient yet effective measures that you can put in place:

Communicate consistently.  Be clear about the sort of company that you are and want to be.  Question what sort of people you want to attract.  Think about what makes you different from other employers in your area or industry.

Listen to what's motivating your workforce.  Learn from the team that you have grown.  Develop systems for internal feedback for valuable lessons in your employer brand.

Do what you say you're going to do.  It’s all very well defining your brand but if you don’t put it in to practice no-one will believe it.  However, if you treat your employees accordingly they will be your brand ambassadors.  

Spread the word.  How are you using your website and social media?  Are you telling people about how you treat your employees, the new people you have attracted, your attrition rates? How are you communicating the benefits of working with you, how you are contributing towards the health and wellbeing of your employees, what you have achieved in the community?

Be recognised.  Gaining an accreditation such as Investors in People formalises and publicises your position as an employer of choice. Likewise you can maximise in the publicity afforded by applying to local or national awards in categories such as employer brand or employer of the year.

Recruit positively.  Making steps to ensure a positive candidate experience in your recruitment process goes a long way to recruiting your desired top talent.  According to expert, Brett Minchington, “Focus on the experience and engagement will follow.”