Today's challenging marketplace is forcing HR leaders to take a good, long look in the mirror to make sure that what their organization reflects is of value to current employees and job candidates.
Employment branding has never been more significant among today's corporations. It has an immediate impact on talent pools and long-term effects, not only on recruiting and retention, but on an organization's overall branding and reputation.
Developing a strong and effective employment brand is an investment, a strategic decision that has a lasting impact on internal and external relations. A terrific employment brand creates the expectation that one's experience with that company is going to be a positive one.
It becomes a catalyst for retaining the employees you need. These are the same employees who, in turn, become ambassadors for the workplace and a significant part of efforts to attract the best and brightest talent on a consistent basis, over time.
Some would say the influx of resumes that are flooding today's marketplace due to current levels of unemployment is an instant fix for recruitment headaches. That may in part be true, but effective employment branding plays a very strong role as well, leading to a steady flow of superior candidates.
What is your employment brand? Keep in mind, you have one whether you know it or not. It is in your best interest to ensure that it is reflecting well on and in your organization.
There are many opportunities to build your brand. Most organizations look at the front-end of the employment lifecycle -- and indeed recruiting services have led the way. But overlooked opportunities to promote the brand as they engage employees abound.
As employees share their ongoing experiences, this can either help to attract or discourage new talent. Positive "buzz" among employees is a motivator internally and a catalyst for attracting savvy talent externally. Employee evangelism has staying power.
HR services delivered through Web sites provide a ready-made platform to build your brand. They empower employees and allow organizations to take advantage of emerging socialization capabilities. They also provide an opportunity to leverage your brand's look and feel in order to remain consistent with the over-arching corporate brand.
Many HR teams have worked hard to build their employment brand through Web-based and other employee communication.
But when HR departments make decisions to outsource certain aspects of employee service, must brand be put by the wayside? The answer is an emphatic "no." Your outsourced services can and should reflect your brand and help heighten your organization's image every time an employee -- or potential employee -- touches your services.
Selective outsourcing provides an outstanding platform to extend your employment brand. Whether it is an assessment, a paystub, W-2 issue/reissue, many outsourced services touch the employee directly.
Outstanding services become associated with the brand and can be a positive reflection of the company. Service providers that recognize employment brand value have incorporated brand features as core capabilities within their service, and they will be your partner in selecting which capabilities best fit with your brand goals.
Leading providers can give you the best of both worlds -- focused experience and expertise within their services, along with the brand value of your organization.
Some ways organizations can reinforce their brand is by ensuring that client sites, message boards and all documentation on the site are branded to reinforce the value proposition that employees are valued resources. Branding can include logos, colors, fonts and other touches that make the user-experience easier.
Extensive branding can be a critical component of a seamless new-hire experience. We have found that marrying the brand capability of the service with proven user experience techniques achieves the primary goal -- helping organizations avoid confusing a job applicant.
In addition to these examples illustrating ways organizations have leveraged outsourced services, there are other fine instances where targeted messaging is being integrated into the service and brand experience with great success.
For example, electronic paystubs can include unique messaging onto each paystub. Customized messaging has become such an integral part of clients' overall branding message that even inactive employees can be reached with your brand through outsourced services such as prior paystubs, W-2 reissues, etc.
Today, there are even more opportunities to engage employees with emerging socialization and new media features.
Outsourced providers can make it relatively easy to introduce these features without your organization having to build them. Leading service providers are also looking at other trends such as increased use of mobile platforms that promise to both blur the lines further between work and leisure time and provide opportunities to reinforce employment brands nearly 24/7.
With that in mind, there is no time like the present to hold up the looking glass and get a good grasp of what brand your organization is currently reflecting every time it touches an employee.
Mike Smith is senior vice president of market development for TALX, provider of Equifax Workforce Solutions and a leader in human resource and payroll-related services, including unemployment tax management, assessments and talent acquisition, electronic time tracking and onboarding. Based in St. Louis, TALX provides services to more than 9,000 clients, including three-fourths of Fortune 500 companies.