It might be a simple suggestion: “Employers must take care of their company brand.” Yet in a world increasing dominated by brand awareness and publicity, the question surrounding employer brand is becoming more and more vital. Companies are having to work harder and harder to ensure their brand remains synonymous with a good working ethos and professionalism. As examples such as KPMG and Bell Pottinger become embroiled in scandal, a company’s reputation begins to carry more importance in the 21st century.
Is employer brand just reputation? Not quite. Employer brand encapsulates everything that the company stands for: their reputation, their value proposition to its employees, their standing in the market. Employer brand is a term more specifically targeted towards a company’s employees rather than their corporate brand.
For African companies, the relationship between employer and employee is vital to ensuring productivity and retaining talent. In recent years, Global Career Company has witnessed the slow return of African professionals from the diaspora to the continent. If companies wish to develop and strengthen this retain, and attract from the wider talent pools, they must become aware of what the company’s brand stands for. More specifically, companies must identify and develop what it offers of value, a value often defined in the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This is a term used to describe the set of associations and offerings provided by an organisation in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the organisation.
Figure 1 The Employer Branding cycle - how to achieve maximum potential
How then can employers develop and strengthen their employer brand? There are a few tried and tested methods for this, easily adaptable to a sliding scale of company-size:
1.) KPI Development & Tracking: In order to promote an effective employer brand, companies can implement a system of testing and measuring, using different campaign techniques, messages, channels, etc. It is vital for a company to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and keep track of performance levels in order to make continuous improvements to the company’s operating style.
2.) Technology integration: For Africa, technology is fast becoming inescapable. As companies begin to rely on the digital world, they must also begin to align their social media channels and technologies used in order to effectively communicate with both their employees and the outside world. Embrace it! Technology is a useful tool in this modern world.
3.) Employee Promotion: Another useful method some employers have implemented is promoting their top employees. Small profiles on the company websites or LinkedIn pages demonstrate the company’s commitment to their workforce and also ensure that the employees (and their work) feel valued. New arrivals are made to feel welcome and veterans feel appreciated. This also helps employers promote the company from the employee-side, turning the more traditional employer branding on its head.
How then does employer branding work in Africa? The most extensive research into employer branding has been done by the Careers in Africa Employer of Choice survey, in partnership with Willis Tower Watson. Begun in 2015, this survey is answered over 20,000 African professionals from across the continent. 90 questions, 54 markets, over 100 companies. The figures are impressive.
The results are surprising as well. Looking at some of the key attraction and retention factors for African professionals, the Employer of Choice survey found that learning new skills and making an impact were among the top drivers for employees across all generations. Employers must adapt accordingly, improving their brand to reflect these drivers. If companies wish to attract top African talent from the diaspora and from the continent, they must ensure that employees are given the possibility to learn and develop in both a personal and professional context.
Getting employer branding right is difficult. Yet once achieved, the rewards are obvious. As employee retention becomes more and more important to African firms, they must look to new ways of retaining such talent and promoting their brand in order to attract.