How to help your Hiring Managers live and breathe your employer brand

LAURA CHAMBERS • 27 Jan 2021

In our latest webinar, Giles was joined by Paul Ainley from Employer Brand experts, Chatter Communications.

About Paul Ainley from Chatter Communications

Paul is a founder of Chatter. Over the years, Paul and Chatter have worked with brands such as O2, Nestle, United Utilities looking at health and well-being, pay and benefits, including the HR mix as part of the experience of the Employer Brand.

Rather than just working with clients on creating a great EVP or Employer Brand campaign, Paul and his team ensures companies actually deliver on that ‘promise’, be the best they can be in how they communicate and engage with their own people and create a buzz.

Watch it back - Paul Ainley and Giles Heckstall-Smith👆

Where to start with delivering on Employer Brand and EVP?

The language we use when we talk about Employer Brand is important - as a concept, it’s still reasonably new in terms of something that is important to organisations. With Hiring Managers potentially playing a huge part in delivering a standout experience for candidates, simplify the way Employer Brand is talked about, what the objectives are and explain why we are doing it.

Since the first lockdown, conversations about Employer Brand and EVP are becoming even more important because the way we recruit has changed so dramatically, with most hiring done virtually.

For many of us, a virtual interview would be fine now that we have adapted to daily Zoom calls, but is that the case for every candidate at interview? Is the experience as good and as friendly as it would be if they were coming to your office and do Hiring Managers know how to put them at ease? Give them the tools and information – make sure they’re kind, considerate and put candidates at ease. Are candidates clear on what is required for the role, the ideal person that the organisation is looking to hire? And make sure Hiring Managers always give feedback.

How do you explain the importance of EVP and Employer Brand to Hiring Managers?

Use the same language Hiring Managers use and compare the correlation between the consumer brand and the employer brand. The promise that’s delivered to customers, must be aligned to your own people too.

Some organisations provide a fantastic consumer experience, such as online retailer, Loaf - order swatches online and they’ll send it with a slice of cake and a tea bag. It’s only a simple online transaction but they’re delivering an experience. Ensuring Hiring Managers are turned on to these types of experiences day in day out, not just when they're hiring, means they become the positive stories that we talk about externally.

What is at the core of your customer proposition? What's important to you and what change is required to drive it through? Having this clarity is the opportunity to link Employer Brand to driving that change or to achieve those overall goals and objectives. Speak with Hiring Managers to understand exactly what they are trying to achieve, and, after that, what’s being discussed is no longer theory. It's about the practical implementation of the Employer Brand that everyone will own.

Should Employer Brand and Candidate Experience align with the consumer experience?

They already are as ultimately; one thing affects the other. In early 2020, Chatter created peer-to-peer employer rating websites, social media, and news monitoring to understand if there is a link between the way organisations are perceived to treat their people and their NPS score for their brand. We believe there will be and we're at the stage of crunching the data - we've also set up a group in LinkedIn (Thinktanc).

As we work from home without a fancy office, how do we convey the employer brand without the corporate support?

There are advantages of homeworking becoming the norm. The pandemic has freed us of some of those shackles. Instead, we can consider who the best type of person is for the role, what their experience is and look at a more broadly geographical area than we have ever done before.

The challenge is winning over and creating an experience for candidates remotely - there’s no opportunity to wow them with a swish office anymore. We must think about what’s important and it is all building a rapport, the effort that’s made in preparing and briefing them, and how Hiring Managers perform.

This experience is so important, it’s what people and candidates talk about and remember. We all talk about experiences, whether they’re good or bad, but people tend to speak more freely about poor experiences.

Engaging Hiring Managers with EVP and Employer Brand

For us it’s four key areas:


Talent brand

From employee surveys Chatter has managed, a recurring theme is leadership and management are typically not as strong as expected in terms of employees’ experience. As a result, we started to build in stakeholder engagement sessions - the third group we launch the Employer Brand to is the Hiring Manager leadership. By bringing them on the journey, it makes it all the more relevant to them and a more robust basis to build from.


Understanding your audience

The challenge for recruiters is that there are a wide variety of audiences, because of the different types of roles you’re recruiting for – but one Employer Brand has to appeal to all of those audiences. Who is the audience and what do they want from you as their employer? Think about what drives their career decisions, their aspirations and what’s important to them.


Assess and align these needs against your EVP

EVP is about the promise you make. Think of it as a warehouse where everything that’s available to anyone that might become an employee is stored - pay and benefits, the working environment, etc. It’s also things that appeal to the emotions - the culture, the leadership, the vision for the organisation, which in today’s climate is more important than ever.


Employer brand experience

This is about authenticity, ensuring you’re actually delivering what you’ve promised to your people. We also use the Employer Brand to influence where some things might not be working quite as well as they should do.


The furloughed

At the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020, we surveyed 200 people on furlough and what the experience was like for them. At that stage furlough was brand-new and most peoples’ experience was great at the beginning. However, once it was handed over to the Line/Hiring Manager, peoples’ experience differed - some were great, and others were terrible – and that's very derailing for a business.

The employee experience is more challenging than ever, but organisations do have new priorities to become more considerate, empathetic, and kinder.

Work with Hiring Managers to highlight the benefits of giving candidates, applicants, or interviewees a positive experience – it can be the difference between finding the perfect fit for the team that will perform quickly, stay longer, and contribute to their own team and wider organisational success.

A time for HR to shine in the boardroom

The current climate has proven more than ever how vital HR is to an organisation. For business leaders, it's often not a natural part of their skill set – they might not be as connected to people as HR are. But when we're talking with people in the boardroom about Employer Brand and EVP, we must start speaking their language.

Employer Brand – explain this is connected to productivity, retaining the best talent, enabling the organisation to grow, and adding money to the bottom line.

The importance of leadership buy-in

Gaining C-suite buy-in for any project is critical and ensures future comms that cascade down and get buy-in far easier than when you try to push the other way i.e. from Recruitment upwards.

Thinktanc was set up to gain evidence and data to help HR and recruitment build the case for investment and Employer Brand – after all, it’s difficult for C-suite to argue with clear data. If you can feed clear data into Senior Leadership teams and Hiring Managers about the value and importance of a good Employer Brand and EVP – they'll suddenly see that it really does deliver.

What other ways can Hiring Managers get involved with influencing?

How can Hiring Managers create and distribute content to attract candidates? Any practical tips to generate that content?

By their very nature, Hiring Managers are in a position of responsibility and influence, with access to significant networks to reach a wide audience and influence in terms of talent attraction. When it comes to building their personal professional brand or conveying employer brand via social media using video or images it can be daunting recording a video or appearing on video.

In terms of content creation - start small! Some of the best engagement on LinkedIn is often when articles from news sites are shared along with some comments. It only takes 5 minutes but can make a significant mark.

Hiring Managers have their own jobs and so often won’t have time to shoot a video and pull lots of content together, especially if they’re currently hiring.

Final thoughts

  • Create content when there’s no hiring. There are always peaks and troughs and that's when to ask Hiring Managers. If they don't want to record a video then don't force them, it will only show how uncomfortable they are - find another format, such as sliders, storybooks, and infographics.
  • Google Alerts pull in lots of relevant content direct to an inbox. Manage this on behalf of your Hiring Managers – find suitable content, add some comments, and ask the Hiring Manager to post it on their own LinkedIn.
  • Feedly is another site which allows you to add different keywords, automatically providing a list of relevant articles to comment on or share via social networks.
  • Find your influencers. They often don't realise that’s what they are! They have a great network of people that are interested in them. Speak to them about why they are important and what they can do to help you achieve your goals.
  • Make it relevant. For example, people in tech tend to care about the organisation they're going to work for, how they will influence results and the behaviours that they'll drive. Link in with your internal comms, PR, marketing, and branding teams and look at using the content that’s already there and edit it to make it relevant for those audience groups.

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