Published in CHRO SA (‘Three tools to boost employer brand’) on 24 April 2023

Disregarding third-party advocacy in employer branding can be detrimental, warns Celeste Sirin, CEO of Employer Branding Africa.

Although it’s important to acknowledge that many companies are presently prioritising the mental, physical, and financial needs of their internal workforce in the post-pandemic world, it’s equally critical to not overlook the external third parties who are navigating through economic uncertainty and inflationary times.
Companies need not underestimate or overlook the importance of the manner in which leaders and employees interact and engage with these vulnerable and sensitive external stakeholders. This can positively or negatively impact the organisation’s employer brand reputation, and have a long-lasting effect.

Tools to boost candidate advocacy

The worldwide challenge of adequately making a memorable candidate experience and shaping the organisation’s employer brand persists.

While mapping the candidate experience and aligning touchpoints with values and EVP is important, gathering candidate feedback on service, the candidate journey, brand reputation, and advocacy is equally vital.
Surprisingly, a study by Leadership IQ on recruiting practices found that 85% of employers do not collect feedback from candidates who rejected an offer, and only 39% of companies believe their recruitment process represents their employer brand. This highlights the need to gather feedback from disgruntled/rejected candidates, as they provide valuable marketing intelligence.

Leveraging technology will provide you with valuable data on candidate conversion and funnel failures. Talent leaders asking the right questions can provide excellent external talent market perceptions and insights into the strength/weakness of your employer brand at various stages of the recruitment process.

Include three to five “candidate service experience” questions in the online ATS application process.

  • Conduct candidate service calls to gather feedback and assess brand advocacy, similar to aftersales customer service calls in consumer marketing. Consider using NPS (Net Promoter Score).
  • Conduct regular external talent market surveys using tailored online questionnaires for specific groups such as past silver medallists, previous applicants/job seekers in the ATS, or generic field studies with personas/profiles (e.g., Gen Z or professionals) to gauge candidate market perceptions accurately.
  • Monitor review sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Google for feedback on the organisation.

Tools to bridge the divide

With the combination of a lack of high-demand talent and a widening skills gap, particularly in IT, Digital Marketing, and Sales, many companies are turning to building a not so alternate workforce of temporary, gig, or contract workers as part of their global talent sourcing initiatives. According to an SAP Fieldglass study, nearly three-quarters of executives cite the importance of gig workers in sourcing hard-to-find skills.

As the gig economy is changing the contemporary business landscape, with this cohort becoming increasingly integrated into the company’s culture, EVP, and employer brand, they too become extended brand advocates to the workforce. Managing their engagement terms, expectations, and contribution to workplace culture is crucial in this working relationship.

Additionally, you need to be mindful of the alumni network as another third-party source that requires management for nurturing and managing the employer brand. Properly addressing the divide between contractors and full-time employees is also essential.

  • Streamline and customise onboarding procedures to include alternate workers, emphasising the importance of upholding the employer brand and values.
  • Ensure a clear understanding of the value exchange for alternate workers vs. FTEs to prevent misinformation and brand damage.
  • Implement candidate relationship management systems to manage and nurture long-term relations with this talent network.
  • Send informative newsletters tailored to provide an alternate talent network with employer brand updates on news, accomplishments, or job openings, ensuring you remain continuously connected and top of mind.
  • Create social media groups and invite alternate workers to events.
  • Consider implementing an employee referral programme with rewards for alternate workers.
  • Use retirees/alumni as mentors or motivational speakers for newly appointed workers.

Tools to help external service providers to elevate your employer brand

Organisations have valued partners such as recruitment agencies, training consultancies, and mental health specialists, among others, who play an integral role in shaping the talent brand. Yet, ongoing mistreatment, lack of respect, and rudeness from companies towards these providers continue to harm one’s reputation.

Considerations should be given to how employees, especially those in HR and Talent teams, engage with outside service providers, including top executives and gatekeepers, as values, culture, and branding extend to these interactions. Respect, courtesy, empathy, and responsiveness should be demonstrated when dealing with outside outsourced companies, including start-ups and SMEs.

Reputable third-party providers should demonstrate a thorough understanding of your employer brand and EVP, as they act as extended brand ambassadors in providing exceptional service. Proactively equipping service providers with employer branding knowledge and tools can empower them to effectively advocate for the brand on your behalf.

  • Companies should onboard service providers on their culture, values, work ethics and way of work – through onboarding pack/briefing sessions.
  • Circulate an internal communication advising the outsourced party’s function to avoid surprises.
  • Leaders must train and highlight the importance of service provider engagement, especially in HR and talent teams, and the impact on employer brand reputation.
  • Survey third-party service providers on their experience to gauge and benchmark employer brand advocacy.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that the way we make these third-party employer brand stakeholders feel can have a lasting impact on their perception of our brand or organisation.

When engaging with outsiders or individuals who are not familiar with our brand, it is essential to approach interactions with empathy and understanding. By putting ourselves in their shoes and considering their perspective, we can create positive and memorable experiences that reflect the values of our employer brand.