Your employer brand isn’t just for permanent employees

Nurturing Diversity in the Workplace
Successful companies align their marketing and HR departments, to create powerful and effective employer brands. By leveraging each other’s strengths, they come together to create a meaningful dialogue about why candidates would want to work for their organisation. These compelling messages and strategies are used by recruitment teams or an RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) partner, to persuade in-demand talent to press the ‘apply’ button, or sign-up to join their talent community.

An effective employer brand strategy  is one of the most important aspects of a successful recruiting function. These days, businesses increasingly recognise the importance of their employer brand – so they expect the recruitment function to proactively protect, promote and enhance it.

However, can the same be said when it comes to contingent labour? Businesses that manage their temporary workforce themselves rarely have the time, resource or impetus to address the gap in strategy for this audience. Those who outsource the management of continent labour, via a Managed Service Provider (MSP), are feeling it more than ever.

Despite the obvious benefits of integrating a compelling employer brand into their recruitment activities, most organisations’ efforts are confined to their permanent recruitment. Few organisations reference employment for temporary or contingent workers in the public domain. Those that do, tend to separate it from their offering for permanent workers. This mindset reinforces the perception that contingent workers are somehow separate to the rest of the workforce.

Why is this important?

In short, the contingent workforce is growing at a phenomenal rate, shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. In fact, some organisations operate a 50/50 split between full-time employees and non-full time employees, making contingent labour critical to the success of the organisation.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) recently reported that there are 1.91 million freelance workers in the UK – a 36% increase since 2008. Elsewhere in the world, Upwork – an online workplace for freelancers – has reported that one in three workers in the US is now a freelancer, a figure they claim could hit 50% by 2020.

At ManpowerGroup, our own research demonstrates that this trend is set to continue. When we recently interviewed 19,000 millennials to get their perspective on the future world of work, 75% said they’re currently working in a full-time, permanent role. However, 50% of those surveyed would be open to non-traditional forms of employment in the future, including contracting, freelancing, and gig working. Added to this, when we recently surveyed 14,000 workers about their job search preferences, flexibility was cited as being one of the most important factors individuals consider when searching for jobs. It’s also one of the key benefits of working in a temporary or contract role.

With the contingent workforce set to continue growing in the years ahead, it’s critical that employers align their workforce strategies accordingly. Talent shortages already have a significant impact on businesses, having worsened year-on-year in six of the nine largest global economies. Failure to adapt and align to the changing workforce composition will make this difficult situation even worse.

Building a compelling employer brand for a contingent workforce

More and more employers recognise that they need to break down the barriers between their permanent and non-permanent staff. Future workforce strategies will call for enterprise-wide implementation, regardless of how someone is employed – and this includes employer branding.

However, while many organisations are comfortable with aligning their EVP to the needs of permanent workers, many struggle with how to do the same with their contingent workforce. After all, what appeals to a permanent worker may not necessarily have the same appeal for contractors – and vice versa. Consideration therefore needs to be given to whether or not your existing employer brand is fit for purpose, with this new audience in mind.

Certain elements of your employer brand may be particularly appealing for temporary workers – for example: pay, facilities, contract length, future opportunities, and the chance to innovate. These are factors that are likely to encourage someone to choose your organisation’s contract over another, so it’s important that they are prominent elements of your EVP. Many talented contractors are in very high-demand – fail to ensure your brand and communications resonate with them, and they will certainly look elsewhere.

In terms of implementing this employer brand, this can be complicated when you consider the logistics of managing a contingent workforce. If mature, chances are, your contingent workforce is managed by a MSP. They, in turn, call upon the services of other recruitment agencies to fulfil your recruitment requirements. You may only have a few organisations in your supply chain; but you may have hundreds. When you have developed a compelling employer brand, it’s important that you ensure it is comprehensively embedded across your entire workforce strategy – even when candidate relationships and communications are managed by multiple, independent parties.

Here are some top tips…

Here are eight tips for building a compelling employer brand, no matter how the person is going to be employed:

  1. Be candidate centric
    The most successful organisations look at talent through the lens of marketers. This appears to be especially important in attracting candidates who have been in the workforce for a long time. Take the unique motivators, needs and life stages of your ideal candidates into account, and then customise your approach accordingly, make the ease of engagement a big part of the hiring process.
  2. Be authentic
    Building an authentic, emotional connection with candidates is more important than ever. So resist the impulse to attempt to control what your existing workforce say and do on social media. Savvy users of social networking sites can spot contrived or forced contributions that seem inauthentic. Such activity can do more harm than good to your employer brand.
  3. Be consistent
    From job postings to employee blogs, from interview experiences to on-boarding and employee development – your employer brand should convey your core values and speak in one, consistent voice. Put marketing guidelines in place for your supply chain, so they know what messages to impart and any rules to be followed.
  4. Be informed
    Employers need to be aware of what is being said about them – good and bad, true and untrue. Perceptions are reality for job candidates. Have your technology team or RPO/MSP partner constantly evaluate all of the channels, platforms and tools which are out there – from Twitter and Facebook, to Glassdoor, Indeed and the ever-increasing range of options when it comes to promoting your job opportunities and brand.
  5. Be creative
    It’s time to take a fresh look at company job descriptions and those of competitors that you’re potentially sharing a talent pool with. Moving to a skills-based measurement or at least make sure your specs/role profiles/whatever-you-call-them clearly explain the role, and also express why a candidate should choose to work at the company and why your people stay with you.
  6. Be proactive
    By building a robust pipeline in advance and reinforcing your employer brand through ongoing dialogue, you can secure real competitive advantage when it comes to attracting top talent and engaging loyal passive candidates when new openings arise. Make joining a talent community as easy as one click on a website or mobile device.
  7. Be reactive
    When online reviews are negative, do not be defensive. Address the issues being raised and, if appropriate, follow-up when they have been rectified. When reviews are positive, use it as an opportunity to provide deeper insight as to why it is important to the company and how it reinforces the EVP. Authenticity matters.
  8. Be bold
    For some HR professionals it may be a hard pill to swallow that employer reputation is increasingly being shaped online – often by forces they fear they have little control over. However, hesitation or denial is no solution. New marketplace dynamics require courage and confidence beyond the usual limits of conventional thought.

If you’d like to discuss how to ensure that your contingent workforce is represented and reflected in your employer branding; or would like to find out more about MSP, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch – you can contact me on [email protected].