Jobseekers demanding transparency

Employers should make sure social conversations reflect the real deal
By Manda Cuthbertson and Leandra Harris
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/06/2014

Savvy organizations that understand the relationship between corporate communications, reputation management and employer branding are embracing organizational transparency. They know it’s not optional in today’s fast-paced digital reality, so they’re weaving open, honest communications into the employer brand narrative.

Jobseekers are demanding more intelligence on prospective employers — and it’s easy to find. Social media provides multiple channels for candidates to further explore organizations for fit with their own personal values and seek out good (or bad) reviews.

Additional company research can be conducted through career review sites such as Glassdoor or Rate My Employer, where employees anonymously share company reviews, CEO approval ratings and salary information.

Jobseekers can participate in these social conversations to gain objectivity in career decisions, because they trust personal experiences far more than carefully-crafted company messaging.

With the advent of such uncensored opinion editorial opportunities, strong brand names and strategic recruitment programs are not enough. Employers need to develop highly engaged brand ambassadors who actively reinforce an attractive workplace culture in their own words.

Generational shifts continue to influence the expectations of jobseekers and employees. Generation C — people who care deeply about creation, curation, connection and community, according to Google — wants to engage with brands that reflect their values and speak their language, and they’ll become great advocates when inspired to do so through honest and authentic relationships powered by technology.

Just be forewarned — they are equally likely to share their poor experiences and boycott employers that don’t live up to their expectations.

Here are a few ways to tell your employer brand story in a clear and compelling way to drive your business plan and create competitive advantage in attraction and talent management strategies:

Use honest, authentic messaging

When people practices are not aligned with the employer brand promise, leaders cannot possibly deliver on candidate and employee expectations. Defining your employee value proposition (EVP) in an honest and transparent way is one of the most effective aspects of an employer brand strategy.

An authentic EVP aligned with the recruitment and onboarding process, and based on internal and external research, supports transparency with candidates joining an organization.

When they are given candid insight into the corporate culture, they’ll soon feel like they fit in and their decision to join the company will be reinforced when their onboarding experience validates the EVP.

External stakeholders, leaders and employees provide key insight as to what people value internally and how the organization is perceived externally.

Pay close attention to critical intersections

A thorough analysis of the brand experience at each phase of the employment lifecycle provides a strong foundation for a successful, long-term employer brand strategy. It’s essential the brand be fully realized in all aspects of corporate life for it to truly feel authentic to employees.

Authenticity and transparency create trust, which positively correlates to engagement and bottom-line results.

Once the EVP is identified, conduct a gap analysis to identify any misalignment of organizational practices and the actual employee experience. Address any issues to ensure the employer brand is fully entrenched throughout the employee lifecycle.

Reflect the real deal

An employer brand is the collective perception of an organization constructed from employee reviews and the customer experience, all of which is amplified through social media.

The rapid speed of shared social media highlights the importance of transparency in business, particularly with respect to employer branding. Insincere messaging and disingenuous EVPs are quickly exposed.

Develop a social media plan to share your brand story. Include a carefully considered content calendar that accurately reflects your employer brand and EVP.

Have leaders be accountable

CEOs and executive leadership have a pivotal role to play in entrenching transparency into an organization’s core business strategy and they must seek to inform by sharing business results, fostering a true open door principle and openly acknowledging issues.

Highly visible leaders are constantly assessed for authenticity, both internally and externally, and their behaviour will either foster or quash a culture of transparency. Set expectations with leaders with respect to transparency and regular communication of key information.

Remember transparency doesn’t mean complete disclosure

Practices employed around transparency should be designed to drive a business plan forward. Develop a tailored approach based on organizational values and strategically align corporate behaviour with the brand promise. Communication strategies should include clear guidelines illustrating what leaders are expected to share, or not share, with team members.

An investment in corporate culture is a proven approach to improved organizational performance. Top employer brands experience increased ease in attracting candidates and higher job acceptance rates coupled with reduced recruitment costs, not to mention improved employee engagement, decreased turnover and recognition as an employer of choice, according to a 2014 report from Employer Brand International.

When an authentic and fully entrenched employer brand is reinforced through a transparent communication strategy, the results can be transformative. Transparency ensures the true employer brand will be experienced as promised.

There’s never been a more critical time for employers to be genuine about what they have to offer candidates and current employees. They should start telling their authentic brand stories and get ahead of the curve in their talent strategies.

Manda Cuthbertson is director of operations and delivery and Leandra Harris is managing director at Blu Ivy Group, an employer branding and employee engagement consultancy in Toronto. For more information, visit www.bluivygroup.com.