The single biggest challenge cited by companies in any industry is access to talent. Good management practices are therefore required to recruit and retain staff effectively, and develop the future leaders that will propel our industry into the future. Snow sports are extremely popular in western Canada not only among locals but also with visitors from around the world. As visitor numbers swell, the challenge of finding employees to service them is getting more difficult. Businesses have to compete, not only with each other but also with other industries, to attract and retain the right employees. To remain competitive among employers for talented workers, companies need to brand themselves as an employer of choice—as a great place to work.
DEVELOPING YOUR OWN EMPLOYER BRAND
Elisa Hendricks, a former managing director for Midlyn Day Communications and an expert at helping companies attract, retain and develop top talent, described the need for businesses to develop their own employer brand. “To attract the best and brightest employees, you need to market your company,” said Elisa.
What is an employer brand? “Companies who don’t think they have one actually do,” said Elisa. “An employer brand is what people are saying about you when you’re not in the room.” She stressed the importance of connecting how you or your leadership communicate the business vision of your company and the human resource initiatives you participate in to develop a strong employer brand. “You have to figure out what it really is like to work for your company and then identify the good and bad.” Elisa said that “branding is doing the right things and communicating it.” It makes sense that attracting and retaining people who share the same values of your company, your employer brand, will result in a higher level of loyalty.
The nuts and bolts of creating an employer brand include developing a promise by determining the attributes of your company and selling your strengths to potential candidates, using exit interviews and employee focus groups to establish your brand reputation, and positioning your brand by identifying your target audience and knowing what today’s employees want.
“An employer brand is more than just a logo and a catch phrase,” said Elisa. ”You have to engage workers by giving them what they want—respect, tools to succeed and meaningful work.”
She quoted Peter Van Stolk, founder of Jones Soda: “I can’t tell you something is cool. You have to hear it from someone you think is cool.” Same thing with employer brands: if your own employees are saying good things, you know you’re doing something right.
5 Tips for Developing an Employer Brand
1. Engage with your employees. Listen to their challenges, act on their suggestions and involve them in your business.
2. Find out what your competitors and employers in other industries are doing. Learn what works and what doesn’t.
3. Employees prefer to work for companies that treat them with respect. Ensure your company culture provides employees with tools and techniques that engage and empower.
4. Not only use exit interviews to gauge employee perceptions, but also “stay interviews” in which current employees are interviewed consistently about what is and isn’t working for them. Be sure to follow up and act on the feedback you receive.
5. Use employee referral programs. Employees who refer friends and colleagues to your company must think your company is worth working for.