Employer branding key in tight labour market

16/07/2008 - 22:00

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Flicking through the professional recruitment pages, its clear to see the intense competition for candidates in the Western Australia's tight employment market.

Employer branding key in tight labour market

Flicking through the professional recruitment pages, its clear to see the intense competition for candidates in the Western Australia's tight employment market.

Career advancement, excellent working conditions and the knowledge that "you" will be able to make a difference are just some of the sweeteners being offered to potential candidates.

But employer branding extends beyond what appears in the job ad. Now, it's all about organisations "living the brand", and whether their employer brand promise lives up to expectation.

The Right Group's David Kent said in today's business climate, employer branding was no longer a short-term project initiated by the HR department to aid attraction and retention, but was now a way of life for successful companies.

He believes organisations that back up their employment promises through their work environment, culture and leadership have truly created a strong employer brand.

"Employer branding, in its true sense, is about the packaging of the functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment with an organisation," he said.

"How these benefits are packaged and the reality of the employment experience then determines the organisation's employer branding positioning and competitive advantage."

"Organisations that back up their employment promises...will reap the benefits beyond increased candidate attraction, with engaged employees that are more productive and are strong advocates for the organisation."

The state's advertising and marketing industries have commended one of WA's biggest employers, Wesfarmers, by naming it the best employer brand for the second year running.

Survey respondents credit Wesfarmers' strong and successful business model and solid management team for its reputation as an employer of choice, with the company leveraging off its corporate brand to attract staff.

"The best thing about Wesfarmers as an employer is the corporate brand is so strong, especially in WA," Wesfarmers chief human resources officer Ben Lawrence said.

"We make sure that the employer brand cascades from the corporate brand and has the same attributes as the corporate brand."

Mr Lawrence said the concept of employer branding was becoming more developed as the economy strengthened and the talent pool tightened.

He believes employees now want more from their employers, and are holding employers accountable for delivering on their recruitment promises.

"As this market becomes a more robust economy and the shortage of talent a lot of companies have seem to be creating value propositions for current employees and prospective employees."

"The market has changed, people are more willing to go next door. The days of employing for life are significantly changed," Mr Lawrence said.

"There is an expectation with the new generation of workers, they want to be more involved and they look at companies as more than a place they work."

Positioning itself as an innovative, forward-looking institution has elevated Curtin University to second spot on the best employer brand list.

"While the [recruitment] copy is still very much in the 'you will have' vein, the target candidate benefits appear in their communications," TMP Worldwide WA general manager Rowena Smith said.

Ms Smith also believes RAC's employment brand, equal five on the list of top employer brands in this year's survey, is primarily leveraged from its strong corporate brand.

"The employment messages delivered provide prospective candidates with a clear link between the two," she said.

Marketforce managing director John Driscoll said intense competition, particularly among the mining companies, was forcing many of them to invest heavily in making their organisation a desirable place to work.

"A lot of it comes through the recruitment advertising. A significant component of it is actually an employer branding advertisement," he told WA Business News.

"The stories that they tell about the company, up to 50 per cent or more of it is about what the company is like to work for rather than the actual job itself, which is very different to what it was five years ago."

Block Branding's Mark Braddock agreed that a good employer brand relies on more than what appears in a job ad.

"Recruitment branding is how they handle the applications, how you're treated when you go to the interview, who you speak to," he said.

"Can we name companies that we want to work for?''

"Like Apple. I think it would be great to work at Apple because I think they would be fresh, innovative, and they do things differently. Google as well. I think they are good recruitment brands."

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