Yves Pilet Consultancy
Employer brand management


This is how you attract and retain the right employees

The following article appeared on 6th of May in a blog on deondernemer.nl and in the 'Week van de Ondernemer' (week of the entrepreneur) Special, a Dutch magazine were speakers, experts and entrepreneurs are interviewed by journalists on specific topics related to the Week van de Ondernemer and spread among 1.2 mln readers. I was interviewed on the topic employer branding and it can be used by SMEs. This blog post is a translation of that article.

(click this image to read the Dutch article on deondernemer.nl)

(click this image to read the Dutch article on deondernemer.nl)

Use your company as a brand

An entrepreneur who uses his company as a brand, uses employer branding. The goal of this type of recruitment is to attract and retain the right employees.

Now that the crisis lies behind us, the time has come for an employer to expand his staff. Labor market advisors from UWV (the Dutch PES) show that the number of jobs that are difficult to fulfill, including for SMEs, is increasing rapidly, and this applies not only to scarce ITers, technicians, or commercial and creative positions. Due to a number of important trends, the supply of employees will only be less and companies will have to work harder to get the right employees on board. The increasing demographic pressure on the labor force is one of those trends. The labor force is shrinking and can only be absorbed by technological developments such as robotization.

The further development of technology requires higher-skilled workers at the expense of low-skilled workers. In addition, there is a shortage of talents. Due to the complexity of the future work, especially the work that's not possible to automate, we want talent that can do it all. How can business like any SMEs, the cornerstone of the Dutch economy, attract the right staff, and don't forget, retain its people?

It may come as a surprise, but UWV (the Dutch PES - Public Employment Service) exposes a facet of recruitment that is virtually unknown to SMEs: employer branding. "It is UWV's legal task to make the labor market transparent," says Yves Pilet, Labor Market Advisor of UWV. "Employer branding is the process to strengthen the employer brand, the employer as a brand, to attract, motivate and retain talented employees at the right time."

As a result, you can make your business a strong brand, be credible and attract the right employees. An authentic, distinctive and positive "employer brand" ensures that your company gets a preferred position with potential and current employees. Duly noted, but how can you as an SME use employer branding if you're a small business and you've got a million things to do everyday? He gives employers of SMEs 6 tips:

1) Link your business vision to the employees you will eventually need
Consider what type of employees you need in the future and what skills they should master. Are you a company that's customer oriented or process-driven? Then add different types of employees to your staff. As an enterprise, you will develop in the next years. The playing field in which you are active will change as well. Make sure that your employees develop certain skills that are of importance. Do this through training or on-the-job training.

2) Distinguish yourself not only in products or services, but also as an employer
Try to find out, along with some employees, what makes you as an employer distinctive of your competitors (identity). Why do your employees work for you and not your competitor? Ask your employees, your customers, and your friends and family how they see you as an employer (image). Does their image match your own idea of the company's image? If this is not the case then you have to act. Think about what you can do as an entrepreneur in addition to improving your working conditions. What were your milestones and what role did your employees play in them? Stories make a business come alive. Use them in your communications towards the labor market and let your employees tell your story.

3) Create a separate menu on your internet site called "Working at"
Use this menu not only to place your vacancies, but also to communicate your business culture. Describe how it feels to work at your company. Let employees talk about your company (preferably via video) and let them share their opinion. Remember: Employees are your advertising agency. Now, use the results from tips 2 and 3 to tell your complete story. You know as an entrepreneur where you want to go with your business, but let your employees tell the distinctive story behind your company."

4) Use social media through your employees
Communicate not only from the organization, but via the social media channels of your employees. Post jobs on the social media channels you use as an enterprise. For example, let a new employee share his story on how he got the job and what he likes about his new job.

5) Measure how long it takes to attract a new employee
Think about how to improve this. Do you use the right communication channels? Do you respond quickly enough to candidates who you don't invite for a job interview? Or should you develop your current employees even further? Do you usually evaluate each job 90 days after an employee started it?

6) Be real
Be yourself, be honest. Nowadays this is called authentic. A pleasant working atmosphere is the most important, followed by salary and employee benefits. Employees also have their resources - family, friends or social media - and are well equipped to get a good idea of what it's like to work at your company. Once accepted, you want to maintain a good employee. Therefore, make sure your image matches your identity.

Note to reader:
During the 'Week van de Ondernemer' (the week of the entrepreneur), Yves Pilet will give a number of free employer branding workshops . More information can be found at the website of WVDO.

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