Any marketer will tell you that branding is key. Just as a company’s overall brand helps attract customers and promote customer loyalty, a strong employer brand helps the business attract and retain the right talent.
But your employer brand isn’t just a set of fluffy words that make the company sound like a cool place to work. It’s far more real than that. It reflects how people really feel about working for the company, and how attractive the organisation really is to people on the outside. If you’re going to manage this effectively and build the employer brand you want, you have to measure and monitor your brand.
Just as with any other branding activity, it’s important to measure the awareness and effectiveness of your employer brand – both in relation to how the brand develops over time, and how it measures up against your competitors. This is how you know for sure whether your employer brand efforts are paying off, and whether the real-life brand matches up to the company’s on-paper values.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to measure employer brand, and briefly explore the pros and cons of each approach.
Setting your employer brand goals
Measuring indicators is all well and good. But the things you choose to measure must be related to your employer brand goals. Otherwise, how can you tell which are the best indicators for you? And how can you tell if you’re making good progress, if you aren’t quite sure what you’re trying to achieve?
Therefore, you must start by defining the organisation’s goals in relation to its employer brand. What do you want your employer brand to be? Ideally, the HR team would work with marketing colleagues to define these key brand goals.
The most meaningful indicators for your company will be those that tie in to your employer brand goals. For example, if the company is struggling with low morale and high staff turnover, your goal might be to improve the internal culture by boosting employee engagement and satisfaction. So, in this case, you would want to pay close attention to metrics around staff engagement and retention.
In this way, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to measuring employer brand. You don’t have to use all of the methods in this article. Simply pick and choose the most meaningful ones for you.
Assessing your employer ranking
Employer review sites like Glassdoor are very helpful for understanding your company’s reputation as an employer. You can, for example, look at your overall employer rating, or see what percentage of people approve of the leadership or would recommend you as an employer – and see how all this stacks up against the competition.
Potential pitfalls: Quantitative data like this is great for getting an overall numerical picture, but it won’t tell you, for instance, why your leadership only has a 25% approval rating. For that, you’d need to analyse the reviews employees post on Glassdoor, using text and sentiment analysis to glean insights on the underlying issues. Internal data like employee surveys and exit interviews (see below) will also help you build up a more complete picture.
Measuring brand awareness through social listening
One great way to measure your employer brand awareness is to monitor mentions and interactions in social media channels. There are many social media listening tools that you can use to monitor your employer brand on social media. This not only helps you gauge brand awareness; using sentiment analysis, you can understand how people feel about you as an employer.
Potential pitfalls: Social listening is likely to touch on social mentions from potential employees, ex-employees and current employees. Particularly for current employees, nobody likes to feel like their employer is spying on them. Therefore, when analysing the content of people’s tweets or other social media posts, it’s a good idea to anonymise the data so you aren’t linking particular comments to individual employees.
Monitoring recruitment and retention metrics
The goal of any recruiter is to attract the most suitable talent in the most effective way possible. Having a strong employer brand means you’re much more likely to attract candidates who clearly understand the business, the role they’re applying for, the company culture and what it’s like to work for the business.
So how can you measure how effective your employer brand is in recruiting the best talent? One common way is to measure cost-per-hire. If your employer brand efforts are paying off, you should start to see recruitment costs go down as you attract candidates through more organic means, like word-of-mouth and social media. Another thing a lot of companies measure is the number of applicants per post. If the overall number of applicants is on the rise, that’s good, right? Well, yes and no…
Potential pitfalls: As well as measuring volume of applicants, you also need to understand the quality of applicants you’re attracting. To measure this, look at indicators like average profit contribution per employee and performance objective metrics to identify how top performers do. Then you can monitor whether your new hires are delivering what you expect.
Measuring the employee experience
A big part of employer brand is determining whether the employee experience actually matches up to the company’s idea of itself as an employer. To do this, you need to really understand the employee experience. Employee engagement, satisfaction and happiness are key areas to measure here. Typically this involves analysing data from employee surveys and exit interviews. Another useful tool is the Net Promoter Score, which looks at how likely employees are to recommend the company as an employer.
Potential pitfalls: I’m not a big fan of the annual employee survey as I feel it’s important to measure employee sentiment on a much more frequent basis. By measuring employee engagement, satisfaction and happiness on a monthly, or even weekly, basis using short pulse surveys, you’re more able to spot trends (positive and negative) and take appropriate action swiftly.
Assessing employee turnover
Measuring how many employees stay and leave the company (and average length of service) will help you identify staff retention trends. For example, do people tend to leave once they reach a certain level in the company? Or after two years? Or are you losing more staff in one area of the company than others?
Potential pitfalls: Again, while staff retention metrics are very useful for identifying trends, they won’t necessarily tell you the underlying reason for those trends. Why are people leaving after two years? Is it because there aren’t enough opportunities to develop? To get at the why, you’ll need to analyse data from staff surveys, exit interviews, focus groups and maybe even performance reviews.
New ways to measure employer brand
Big data-related technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are beginning to transform how companies understand their employees and employer brand. For example, AI can be used to identify trends in what employees think about the company. One such AI tool is Glint, a continual feedback app that asks employees for feedback on important changes or events (such as a new product launch or a change in leadership) and analyses what they say. Using tools like this, companies can gain insights on their internal employer brand and identify trends as they occur, rather than waiting for the results of the dreaded annual survey.
So, as you identify the key metrics for your organisation, keep in mind the exciting new tools that can deliver unprecedented insights into your employer brand and culture.
Where to go from here
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Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.