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Why it pays for SMEs to build positive employer brands

Tony Gale, HR solutions expert at Access Group, shares thoughts on how SMEs can learn from corporate giants to develop an employer brand of their own.
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Multi-national businesses, such as Google and Microsoft, have invested heavily in building their employer brands, working hard to attract the right talent and create clear paths for progression. But such thinking is no longer just for the big players.

With the benefits on offer, employer brands should be something that businesses of all sizes are factoring into their HR strategies, moving from just an external marketing brand message to a HR-led one. However, when it comes to SMEs, many are currently still overlooking the importance of positive employer brands.

But how can HR professionals in SMEs learn from the big corporates and adapt their approach to one that is suited to their smaller organisation’s challenges and needs?

As a company, don’t undervalue the importance of employer brands

Many have the common misconception that building a brand is only beneficial to sales and marketing teams, thinking that the “brand” only refers to a logo or visual associated with the business. However, an employer brand is so much more. It is your company’s personality and the very thing that makes it unique.

This internal representation is the foundation of the culture, atmosphere and behavioural norms that businesses live by every day, and it seeps through to every employee, both in work and in their outward perception of the business when talking to others.

Naturally, multi-national organisations will already have cemented their employer brands, enabling them to attract and retain the right talent, but that doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t follow suit. Think about what your brand proposition might be and how best to harness this to attract the best talent. Being clear about this and promoting the right attributes starts with HR.

Do understand that your employees are just as important as your customers (or more so!)

It’s never been more important for HR professionals to build positive employer experiences into their HR strategies. Pay attention to your company’s onboarding process, ensuring new starters have a positive experience right from seeing your job advert, through to their first day.

Remember, everything a new recruit experiences will shape how they feel about a company. That experience will essentially be the building block for their employee satisfaction longer term.

Embrace the technology revolution, it doesn’t bite

Is your business harnessing the power of technology in every avenue or is it falling short, leaving it open to missed opportunities to recruit new talent or engage existing employees?

It’s often easy to simply focus on commercially-driven technology decisions, but what many don’t realise is that smarter employee interactions can be made without a major investment in tech.

Some 89 per cent of jobseekers now use mobile as their primary tool for finding a new role. However, just 60 per cent of employees offer mobile-friendly career sites.

Match this experience to only 20 per cent of companies deploying HR systems to mobile at all, and you spot a big missed opportunity, especially in industries where competition for talent is high and every experience counts.

The cost of investment soon gets over shadowed when you consider the saving in recruitment costs for lost talent, and easier acquisition of those on the job market.


With 450m professionals, the LinkedIn company culture is based on some sound insight

Company culture is quite the buzzword, but it really can have a noticeable impact for businesses. And with 450m professional members globally, LinkedIn has access to a vast library of employee loves and hates, and has supplied Real Business with some juicy Corporate Insights.


Get interested, then listen

Never underestimate the importance of communication with your staff. Team events, social media and company-wide communications are a few easy steps you can take to make sure your employees feel like an important and integral part of your company. Encouraging two-way open conversation shows respect to employees, and offers an opportunity for valuable insight from the floor.

Having your finger on the pulse means you’re better informed, can plan ahead and can flag any upcoming issues earlier. The strategic benefits of a proactive approach can be seen in so many areas of HR. Something as simple as remembering an employee’s birthday or asking them what their goals or concerns are, are all key to ensuring your employee feels valued and engaged.

Get the work-life balance right

It’s a fact, employees who are stressed, anxious or frustrated will naturally not be able to perform to their full potential.

It’s important that your employees know that they can be open about their workload or personal concerns and how it might be affecting them. Perhaps make it company policy for a “tech black-out” after work hours, like the 7-7 rule, or introduce activities within the office that promote positive mental and physical health.

Remember, knowing your employees and when they’re unhappy, frustrated or stressed could reduce the chances of them feeling unsupported and later moving on, and all adds to the fabric of a strong employer brand.

Lead the brand revolution

Being a HR professional in any organisation, regardless of size, involves wearing many hats, with the requirements and expectations of those around you often changing by the day.

As a result, it can sometimes seem tricky to find the time to put towards value-adding initiatives or addressing strategic goals. However, by adopting a positive approach and focusing on a few key initiatives, you could be on your way to helping your business, and its employees, reach new levels of success.

To find out more about how you can add value to your business by transforming your business’ HR function, download the Access Group’s free guide.


Five billion-dollar companies that built powerful employer branding

Every interaction a candidate has with your company will influence your brand’s perception and image. We refer to this as ‘employer branding’, which, simply put, is a term used to describe an organisation’s reputation to its employees, candidates and even its customers.

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Real Business

As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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