A Memo To Employers: Employee Talent Is Your Employer Brand www.zenithtalent.com/recruiting-and-staffing-blog/employee-talent-is-your-employer-brand @zenithtalent Read the MEMO!

Part 1 of 2

The importance of curating content and social media to promote compelling employment brands

With last week’s launch of Memo, an app that allows workers to post anonymous comments about their employers to a specific group page, it’s essential that staffing professionals commit to a more active role in curating the communications and marketing processes.

Three of the biggest topics being discussed by employment industry experts are the importance of social media, employment branding and superior content. It’s become difficult to imagine reading a recruiting or employment related article without coming across these themes. Between 2012 and 2014, they seemed more like “nice-to-haves” and progressive visions for the future of staffing. Today, they are not only realities, they have positioned themselves as imperatives in the talent acquisition process. More than that, they are interrelated. Content attracts prospective talent and establishes the employment brand; social networks are the mechanisms that transmit the message. These three elements exist in a symbiotic relationship, and managing them has become a more important task.

Employers and recruiters recognize the value of social recruiting, yet many continue to fall back on old habits or the fading practices of a bygone time: they mistake more content for quality content; they publish content that fails to resonate with the newer generations of talent; they post vague descriptions of the business culture that impress readers as inauthentic; or they don’t fully understand how candidates want social media to be used in a job-seeking context. There’s something else, though. The content, and the employment brands themselves, are no longer messages that employers control exclusively — nor are the social media that get the word out.

Today’s workers are living employment brands. They are the face of every employer they serve, as well as the authors of the content. What they post on social networks about their experiences does more to influence talent marketing, branding and hiring than a company’s narrative. For contingent workers, the issue becomes more pronounced. The stories they relate, inspirational or critical, don’t affect just one organization — they shape the perceptions that potential candidates will have about multiple staffing agencies, MSPs and client organizations.

A Memo to employers

Memo, developed by Collectively Inc., has already gathered 10,000 users since its beta testing in the fall. Users may publish memos, comments and related links to public and private pages. Soon, the company states, the app will support the uploading of files, photos and documents.

Memo’s chief executive, Ryan Janssen, envisions the app as a facilitator of honest, productive and positive workplace change — an anonymous forum where managers can learn how their workers really feel, in an environment that prevents retaliation. When managers evaluate employees and request feedback, “the employee’s natural reaction is to tell you what you want to hear, rather than the truth,” Janssen explains. So far, workers for companies such as Oracle, Delta Air Lines, Ernst & Young and Hasbro have joined the discussions, posting revealing insights about compensation, managerial competence, remote work options and more.

However, the conversations aren’t just internal. Many users are posting their opinions to the public streams. So Collectively’s platform isn’t intended to inspire only change from within, it’s also capable of driving external change based on how investors, customers and prospective employees view the business culture. Consider Oracle, Ernst & Young and Delta — all clients with robust contingent labor populations. Delta also has an enterprise-wide MSP solution. What contingent talent have to say about their working conditions could reach wider audiences, including other clients supported by the same MSPs or staffing providers. The pros and cons are obvious.

A typical comment on Memo looks something like this: “HASBRO: leadership speaks about an open door policy & and an ability to effect change. not the case. also innovation and nimble thinking are not valued.”

Companies have already issued cease and desist letters to Memo, which vows on its website to do neither. And according to labor attorney Jon Hyman, the content may be legally protected: “Federal labor law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for engaging in protected concerted activity. Retaliation isn’t Memo’s biggest risk because its posts are (supposedly) anonymous. However, federal labor law also prohibits employers from maintaining or enforcing policies that could chill employees’ right to speak about terms and conditions of employment.”

Workers are the employment brand

Millennials account for 25 percent of the entire population. Their influence in setting trends across all industries far surpasses that of older generations. For organizations around the globe, the battle to attract Millennials is taking place on two fronts: companies are fighting to hire them and to entice them as consumers. Millennials not only have the technological prowess and innovative spirit employers seek, they also represent $200 billion in annual purchasing power. They are well-educated, career-driven, intrapreneurial and socially conscious advocates. Their sway as brand ambassadors for products and employers is virtually unprecedented.

Their attitudes and the content they continuously share about consumer and employee experiences have profound effects on the behavior of those who interact with the companies under this microscope. A Harris Interactive poll found that 70 percent of brand perception is determined by direct experiences with people, their attitudes and their feedback.

Talent choose jobs the same way they choose companies

Millennials favor authenticity, social causes, corporate responsibility and a reliance on social media to share their feelings or learn more about organizations they will support, in both consumer and employment roles. According to Nielsen’s 2014 study, Millennials are 57 percent more likely to interact with companies they regard as genuine and transparent. And their endorsements can spike interest in a brand by nearly 30 percent.

According to data compiled by Elite Daily, an online news platform by and for Millennials, these attitudes significantly inform how Generations Y and Z gravitate toward prospective manufacturers, service providers and employers.

  • Only one percent of Millennials are influenced by traditional advertising. They believe marketing campaigns and ads are disingenuous spin, lacking authenticity.
  • Only three percent of Millennials turn to books, magazines, websites or other traditional media when reviewing companies; 33 percent rely on blogs and social media for authentic feedback, particularly when the content is written by trusted peers.
  • Millennials, 43 percent of them, rank authenticity over content. Before considering a company, they must first come to trust its messaging — an opinion usually formed by reviews and blogs, not logos or company sponsored testimonials.
  • If a brand engages with them on social networks, 62 percent of Millennials say they’re more likely to become loyal. And maintaining their loyalty requires maintaining the social media. More importantly, 60 percent claim that they are often or always loyal to brands they trust.
  • Millennials want to contribute. Forty-two percent express interest in helping companies develop future products and services.
  • About 75 percent of Millennials consider a company’s willingness to give back to society (philanthropy over profit) an important motivator. They distrust the corporate greed and government disinformation that were rife during their formative years. They flock to brands that support their communities, and will choose them over competitors who don’t.

Finding exceptional talent today requires a big commitment to launching targeted branding efforts: job seekers are no longer combing want ads or searching through traditional job boards. Because these next-generation workers have placed a greater emphasis on an employer’s culture and vision, branding becomes a large part of those marketing campaigns. Not only that, the talent themselves have become instrumental in sculpting an organization’s employment brand through the content they’re authoring across personal blogs, social networks and apps such as Memo.

Staffing curators in 2015 may face bigger responsibilities where social media are concerned: they must become active participants in the conversation to attract in-demand talent and, now, to take charge of the brand.

In the second part of this series, we’ll explore effective methods for marketing content to talent and ensuring productive employment brand development.