Are you Attracting the “A” Team?

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According to an article in HBR “CEOs need to pay attention to Employer Branding”, the war for talent is on once again.  As unemployment has dropped significantly, employers are fighting for top talent.  “In a recent 2015 survey, 73% of CEOs reported being concerned about the availability of key skills.” This time the focus is on employer branding as a way to strengthen recruiting and gain recognition as an “Employer of Choice”. 

Many of our clients are placing employee engagement at the top of their list of strategic objectives.  It seemed to be a trend I didn’t quite understand but now I get it.  Employees themselves are critical communicators of the employer brand.  “The rise of social media has made companies a great deal more transparent.  People are far more likely to trust a company based on what its employees have to say then on its recruitment advertising.”  In theory, happy employees = happy customers therefore ensuring that employer branding and customer brand strategies are aligned is critical.

One interesting shift is where “employer branding” is housed.  Historically, anything pertaining to employees was led by Human Resources. But today that responsibility has shifted to marketing or the CEO.  The fact that this even makes it to the CEO agenda illustrates its strategic importance.  Many of our clients are complaining about critical skills gaps but few have plans in place to fill those gaps.  Effective employer branding could certainly help and is one way to make quality employers more visible in the marketplace.

Here are some of the suggestions noted in the article “….. to help leaders attract and retain the talent they need”:

  • Evaluate your current employer brand awareness and reputation, through survey research among your key external target audiences
  • Define how you’d like to be seen as an employer based on a realistic assessment of your distinctive strengths, and translate this into a clear and compelling Employee Value Proposition
  • Be more proactive in using social media to share inside stories that highlight your strengths and build a more authentic and engaging employer brand reputation.
  • Ensure that every function within the organization understands the value of a strong employer brand to the success of the business and the role they need to play in sustaining a consistent brand experience and reputation.

While I agree that these suggestions may help get the right talent in the door, it is then critical to retain that talent.  The organization MUST deliver on the promise made through its employer branding campaign.  That is where the rubber meets the road – sustaining a consistent brand experience and reputation.  In a time when talent is scarce, it simply is not good enough to only manage employees as assets when they walk in the door.  You must have a plan in place to manage those “assets” throughout the entire lifecycle (hire to retire).

Here are some mistakes I have seen many companies make:

  • New hires get the “full court press” for a month and are then forgotten
  • On-boarding is not structured and it takes months for employees to assimilate
  • The “A” players are hired but their skills are not utilized
  • Employee engagement is an event and NOT built into the culture (ADOPTION!)
  • Talent is managed ad hoc – no talent management program is in place
  • Employees are hired for their functional competency – leadership competencies are ignored
  • Performance management is an event to trigger compensation adjustments not for development purposes

Because there are so many challenges in living up to the employer brand experience, this must be owned by the CEO.  While HR and / or marketing can communicate the employer brand, the CEO must hold his/her organization accountable to actually deliver it.

 Please let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . . . . 

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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