The Roaring 20s brought on an era of change and disruption, no different to what we are faced with now. The state of our gloomy unemployment rate in South Africa is incomparable to that of many other global countries and is worsened by the Covid-19 outbreak, yet we share common ground amid technological advancements. This is forcing companies to evolve their HR and talent management strategies with employer branding confirmed to be one of the top recruitment trends. In fact, employer branding is the golden thread that is identifiable in all the trends forecasted for 2020 and beyond.

Candidate experience makes or breaks your brand

Fuelled by critical scarce skill shortages, mismatch of skills, institutions not adequately addressing workplace requirements and high youth unemployment ratios, it’s a given that companies will be continually swamped with CV submissions from desperate applicants applying for few vacancies.

The shift: The ongoing focus on an ideal ‘candidate experience journey’ will continue, with companies working towards balancing the efficiencies of automation and the human interaction of their qualified talent advisors. Research confirms that companies spend a lot of time, money and effort on executing employer branding and recruitment marketing strategies upfront, but the secret sauce to differentiating themselves is the way recruitment teams court, educate and engage candidates when interacting with their company.

Auditing one’s candidate journey is essential. The focus should be on personalising an excellent and unique candidate experience, which in turn sets companies apart from the rest and elevates brand reputation. Companies often overlook the direct correlation and impact that an employer brand has on the holistic corporate brand, underestimating that the consumer or candidate experiences are completely interrelated. Experience is everything and it can either boost or fragment a company’s brand and reputation.

Internalise and recirculate your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

Many companies disregard the ongoing importance of repositioning and elevating their EVP within, with a view to re-engaging, informing and, connecting employees to the tangible values and attributes that their organisations stand for. This has a direct effect on lack of productivity from a disengaged workforce, which has a direct correlation on increased retention ratios. Universum’s 2019 Employer Branding Now Country Report stated that 53 percent of professionals were looking at changing their employer within the coming year.

Additionally, companies need to pay focused attention to how they deliver on their internal brand promise versus how they promote their employer brand externally. The disconnect between the newcomer’s expectation versus the internal brand experience upon landing in the company might not be at all what they expected and often results in the incumbent preparing their next move before onboarding has been completed.

The shift: The same Research confirms that 55 percent of South African companies have an EVP but the real question is whether that EVP is well-known internally or not. With companies seeking ways to retain and motivate their critical skills, I foresee companies making a concerted effort in circulating their EVP internally. This will not only enhance engagement but also lead to improved retention ratios, together with the greater merits of brand advocacy through employee referrals of the sort after talent to companies.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

This is a hot topic and focus area for many companies in 2020 as C-suite leaders seek to develop their employer branding strategies to address the multigenerational global population. The Universum Employer Branding Now (EB Now) study includes a sample of over 2000 global employers, 85 percent of which claimed that hiring for diversity is considered a high priority. The focus on communicating the importance of D&I is reported to have increased by 14 percent in the past three years.

Using the Global Diversity & Inclusion Index, Universum found the topic to be particularly sensitive among millennials and Gen Z generations. Interestingly, 93 percent of Gen Z talent viewed D&I as cultural diversity within the workplace, far out-weighing age, ethnicity or gender. Furthermore, when describing cultural diversity, it was found that talent focuses attention, particularly on personality traits, followed by social-economic background, nationality, work experience and education rather than just on the visible elements such as gender, age and ethnicity.

The shift: For companies to compete when attracting, engaging and retaining talent, they will need to pay closer attention to further defining their diversity, inclusion and transformation initiatives, with commitment towards truly fostering an inclusive culture. The incoming Generation Z (75 percent of which defines D&I as “personality”) will be prioritising who they will join as their employers of choice by being constantly on the lookout for companies that can demonstrate their commitment to D&I both internally and externally.

This mission-critical shift cannot be ignored if companies plan to gear up for the wave of the next incoming generation. In order to ensure that they accurately address D&I, data-led insights are essential to ensuring that they understand and meet the requirements of their target market versus showcasing what they assume talent wants.

Social media remains the ideal channel to promote your employer brand

Social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter remain the best channels for companies to activate recruitment marketing campaigns to drive their employer brands. With candidates behaving more like consumers, a successful recruitment marketing strategy needs to be properly thought through. The content of the strategy should target a well-defined audience while incorporating candidate management processes that track results.

The shift: The best-performing companies will be those that tackle recruitment with a marketing mindset by proactively creating campaigns that drive awareness around their employer brands prior to recruiting. Employee generated content in the form of videos, photos and testimonials will continue to drive employer brand reputations. Once again, a tailored approach is what counts.

Companies will need to take a calculated approach towards positioning their employer brands and executing their recruitment marketing strategies to address the multigenerational workplace. The good news is that, with the right automation and data-led insights you should have all the tools you need to make your mark in the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s talent.

(first published by CHRO South Africa on 18 May 2020)