The difference between the number of employee quits versus the number of layoffs and discharges has been increasing since April 2010 and is holding at 1.5 million more quits than layoffs and discharges, according to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey of April 2017. What this means for businesses is that job seekers are feeling more confident than ever about their ability to get a job. Instead of candidates and employees worrying about their ability to keep and retain a job, employers are the ones that are worrying. Employers are finding they must focus on retaining the employees they have and attracting, recruiting, and retaining the best talent in the market.

To accomplish this attraction and retainment goal, HR departments are focused on maintaining a positive employer brand and creating engaging workplaces that deliver exceptional employee experiences. For some organizations, being an employer of choice seems to come with the territory. For others, it’s a moving target that seems to slip further and further away as competitors continue to attract current and future employees to their organizations.

What’s the secret sauce that the best employers use to develop and maintain a reputation as an employer of choice? Here are 5 key elements that separate organizations that routinely outperform their competition when it comes to attracting, and keeping, the best talent.

#1 Brand evangelists

Employers of choice have brand evangelists. These are employees who speak positively about your company. They tell their friends, family, and most importantly, their social networks how much they like working at your organization. When job seekers are researching a company, they find these employees and are excited by their fantastic, updated LinkedIn profiles.

If asked, brand evangelists offer glowing referrals of their employer because they have had such a positive employee experience during their tenure at the company. The difference between organizations with active brand evangelists and those with employees who simply like their job, lies in programs and processes that are in place to grow and nurture employees who have the potential to become brand evangelists.

According to Kimberly Schneiderman, Practice Development Manager at RiseSmart, “If you have someone on your team who is excited and enthusiastic about their experience at your company, invest in that person. Encourage them to become involved with the company and with the industry in a variety of ways and ask their opinion on everything.”

Kimberly suggests these steps to nurture employee brand evangelists:

  • Send them to conferences and classes where they can deepen their professional expertise and learn from others. Show them you value their experience by asking them to share what they’ve learned with other team members once they return.
  • Encourage involvement in professional associations and sponsor or host chapter meetings at your facility.
  • Find other ways for brand evangelists to help the company based on their talents, focus, and goals, including:
    • Recruiting at colleges
    • Speaking at industry events, in the community, or at internal meetings
    • Internal mentoring
    • Appearing on a marketing video
    • Sharing their story on your careers page
  • Identify cross-functional areas that would benefit from your brand evangelist’s input, for example – would product marketing benefit from understanding the perspective of the evangelist who works in product development?

#2 A top-notch career page

One of the first places a job seeker may go to understand your company philosophy and work culture is the career page that resides on your website. Your career page should be a lot more than just a listing of your current job openings. Today’s talent is looking for an exceptional experience and they will be looking for evidence of that on your career page. When job seekers are researching your organization, they want to get an idea of what other experiences, besides work, they can expect when they decide to join your team.

Attract the best talent with a career page that strongly conveys your company culture. In addition to your job postings, create a sense of community and explain your company culture through stories from employees. Convey your company personality by including pictures of employees engaged in team building and company activities. Most importantly, be sure your career page accurately reflects your company culture and don’t mimic the career page of a competitor. Ultimately, your career page should reflect who you are as an organization and act as a vehicle for you to attract individuals who will be a good fit with your unique company culture.

And of course, make sure your career page is easy to find in your website and that it is mobile friendly. Don’t bury it so deep in your website journey that it is difficult to find and navigate. Since most job seekers are using mobile devices to search for and apply for jobs, having a career page that isn’t mobile friendly is about the same as not having a career page.

#3 Brand consistency

Your employer brand is created and maintained through the interactions between people in your organization and every person who comes in contact them. Create a company culture and processes to ensure that every person who interacts with your company, on any level, has a positive experience.

If you’re an HR professional, your focus is most likely on your employees and the talent you’re trying to attract. However, your corporate reputation is built through relationships with a variety of people, including customers, vendors, job applicants, and employees. Create a cohesive brand by establishing a culture and norms that facilitate positive experiences for everyone, including the people who casually interact with your organization.

Get ahead of the competition by improving the candidate experience for every candidate that submits a resume to your company. Be aware that recent studies have shown that 58 percent of candidates are less likely to buy from a company that did not respond to their application. In addition, 69 percent are less likely to buy if they had a bad experience in the interview. While most organizations believe that there is little impact on the company brand when a candidate has had a bad experience during the hiring process, statistics like these and the frequency of poor reviews on company review sites, such as Glassdoor, tell a different story.

#4 Positive social media presence 

Maintain a positive Glassdoor rating by ensuring that all employees, job seekers, and alumni employees have positive experiences with your company. If your organization has recently experienced a Reduction in Force (RIF), you’ll want to measure the impact of your alumni sentiment on the employer brand.

Eliciting the help of a contemporary outplacement provider can give you the data you need to help your company maintain a positive social media presence. In addition to protecting the employer brand, taking care of employees who are involuntarily separating from your company will help you limit legal liability, create alumni brand evangelists, and improve productivity with surviving employees. Creating an atmosphere of trust and care with employees – during good times and bad – is key to building an exceptional employee experience that engenders brand evangelists.

Sometimes bad reviews just happen due to the fact that you can’t please everyone, despite your best efforts. In those cases, be responsive to negative reviews and communicate in a timely manner – both privately with the person writing the commentary and on the review site itself. Put systems in place to actively monitor and respond appropriately and immediately to comments on social media to ensure you’re perceived as responsive and positive by anyone reading the reviews.

#5 Flexible and mobile workplace

New and emerging technologies are continuing to shift the way work gets done. According to Gallup, from 2012 to 2016, the number of employees working remotely rose by four percentage points, from 39% to 43%, and employees working remotely spent more time doing so. While not all workers want to work remotely, it’s imperative that employers offer a workplace environment that allows for remote work, at least part of the time.

Worker attitudes about what constitutes a positive workplace, and what doesn’t, are at the root of the trends and practices now sweeping through most organizations. For most workers, their job is less about collecting a salary to support a family – even though compensation is an important aspect of attracting and retaining talent – and more about finding work that provides meaning and purpose. In this purpose-driven economy, employers must find ways to keep employees engaged and challenged within the organization, instead of losing good talent because of their need to learn and develop.

Instead of losing employees through downsizing events or through attrition due to lack of opportunity, institute an effective redeployment program that allows valuable employees to stay and find fulfillment with you – instead of leaving to find employment elsewhere. Effective redeployment programs allow valuable employees to discover new opportunities within your organization by allowing them to identify attractive positions and preparing them to apply, interview, and successfully land new roles inside your company. Besides the benefits to the individual employees, well managed redeployment programs help companies to retain valuable talent, decrease costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, and nurture employee brand evangelists.

Your employer brand is one of the most important assets you have to attract and retain the best talent in today’s competitive hiring environment. Make sure your organization has instituted, or has plans to initiate these 5 key elements to create and maintain a positive employer brand.

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