3 Categories of Impact in Employer Branding

Last month, I spent some time with the talent acquisition team at one of the hottest startups in Austin, Texas – WP Engine. The last time I met with them six months prior, they had just completed a very successful round of funding and were entering a period of rapid growth. I offered to give them a crash course on employer branding and candidate experience, and we spent an afternoon brainstorming ideas for both.

Fast-forward to my most recent visit, and a lot has changed. They were recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Austin, redesigned a website, opened an office in London, and have grown their team from 90 to 220. This is all great news and, altogether, has underlined the need to formalize their recruitment marketing efforts. As it turns out, this visit was perfectly timed.

You see, I’ve spent the last several months working on a major piece of research in partnership with Glassdoor: Understanding the Impact of Employer Brand. The report, which can be found here, examines real-life examples of how investments in employer brand management drive performance in key areas of talent acquisition performance.

For WP Engine – and among many organizations big and small – employer brand’s role in high-performance talent acquisition is still TBD. This is not because they don’t think employer brand is important. It is because most organizations don’t have any data that justifies investment. According to Brandon Hall Group’s State of Talent Acquisition 2014, very few organizations are measuring employer brand extensively.

Measurement of Employer Brand

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Source: Brandon Hall Group State of Talent Acquisition Study, 2014

With this in mind, I set out to give hiring organizations like WP Engine an idea of exactly how employer brand impacts talent acquisition performance. I examined a number of Glassdoor’s client success stories, discussing their near- and long-term needs. After studying key performance indicators (KPIs) that were relevant to their needs, I broke common KPIs of employer brand management into one of three categories of impact:

  • Volume & Exposure. These measures are focused on the highest level of impact, and mostly focus on traffic. Especially relevant for those organizations struggling to attract talent (be it in specific demographics or in general), web traffic is one of the more obvious measures of performance. A more attractive brand will draw more visitors to its company career page or on various social profiles as well as more applications.
  • Engagement. These measures go one step beyond traffic to capture more quantifying data on brand traction and sentiment and they provide valuable insight into gains in target areas or with key demographics. Content engagement encompasses all of the likes, shares, retweets, and comments your organization’s careers-related content is getting. The more people are interacting with your recruitment marketing content, the more exposure your content is getting. Not only can this indicate the quality of the content you’re generating (or lack thereof), it can also indicate the communities and forums the most engaged candidates are spending time on.
  • Baseline Measures. These measures are the bread and butter of talent acquisition – and the qualifying data for gauging impact. For example, employee referrals are a popular source of quality hires. Those companies with a strong employee value proposition typically garner more employee referrals than those without. Tracking the number of employee referrals – and where they originate – can give employers a good pulse of how happy employees are, and how healthy the employer brand is in general.

As I told my friends at WP Engine, the hardest part of effective employer brand management is setting clear goals. In theory, the ultimate goal of employer branding is to attract more (and better) talent. In practice, an organization’s ability to set relevant and attainable goals and identify and track KPIs is vital to the success of employer brand initiatives. While goals can be as lofty or as modest as an employer chooses, it’s important to set the course for recruiters and leadership to work toward together.

Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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