Blog post

How your employer brand benefits from being a skills-based organisation

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4 minutes

Talent strategies are increasingly focusing on employer branding and employer value propositions as recruitment becomes more challenging. But the talent management benefits of being a skills-based organisation, such as its focus on talent development, give these businesses a distinct advantage.

Talent shortages have created a candidate-driven market, meaning that competition to attract top talent is red hot. LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting report revealed that almost two-thirds (64%) of talent leaders believe that recruitment will be more favourable to candidates and employees rather than hiring companies over the next five years.

And with candidates now receiving multiple job offers and present employers keener than ever to retain capable employees, businesses are having to think beyond financial remuneration if they are to win the fight. 

As a result, the focus on employer branding has increased, with LinkedIn indicating that 60% of companies are upping their employer branding investments in response to the talent market. 

As part of this, organisations are looking to refine their employee value proposition to increase their attractiveness to candidates - while simultaneously reducing employee attrition.  

While investment in these areas are increasingly urgent given the talent landscape, for skills-based organisations this twin-pronged attack is already a standard part of their talent management armoury.

Let’s take a look at how skills-based organisations are best positioned to prosper during a candidate-driven market.

What is an employer brand and why is it so important? 

An employer brand is broadly defined as your company’s reputation as an employer - encompassing the perception of you that is held not only by your own workforce but also the wider talent market. 

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), an employer brand “encompasses an organisation’s mission, values, culture and personality. A positive employer brand communicates that the organisation is a good employer and a great place to work.”

The employer brand can influence the recruitment of new talent, the retention and engagement of the current workforce, and the general perception of the brand in the market. Research from LinkedIn has demonstrated that strong employer branding can reduce employee turnover rates by 28%, and can halve cost per hire.

But the employer brand can also work against you. “The employer brand is two things,” says Simon Gomez, Founder of talent consultancy GMZTAlent and an experienced Head of Talent Acquisition & Employer Brand. “There is the perception - what people perceive externally, on face value. And then there is what it actually is in reality - what your employees say it is.

"So it can play a massive part in attracting people to your organisation, but equally it can be the driver of your turnover if there is a disconnect between the perception and the reality when people walk through the door and experience it. And of course there is also what you as the organisation want it to be - and this must align too."

Therefore, a positive and accurate employer brand is important to ensure that an organisation’s talent management strategy is successful. 

What is an employer value proposition and why is it so important?

An employer value proposition (EVP) represents an important component of the employer branding strategy. An employer branding strategy typically seeks to:

  • Provide clarity about the organisation’s vision, mission, values and culture. 
  • Align the organisation’s employer brand with the overall brand. 
  • Ensure that the people and management practices support the employer brand. 
  • Define an employee value proposition and then develop an employee marketing strategy that communicates this proposition to current employees and the target applicant base. 

The EVP describes the benefits that employees receive, above and beyond remuneration. It is a means of communicating the values and culture of the organisation, to ‘sell’ the business to the talent pool and also foster a committed, happy and productive workforce. 

“Your employee value proposition is what feeds your employer brand,” explains Gomez. “It is what you offer people. It could be flexible working, certain policies on maternity/paternity pay, right through to the core things such as the working environment.”

The benefits of a strong employer value proposition are significant. Gartner estimates that organisations can reduce the compensation premium by 50% and reach 50% deeper into the labour market when candidates view an EVP as attractive. Elsewhere, Gartner also suggests that organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%.

How can you measure the health of your employer brand / EVP?

There are a host of different metrics and measures that can help businesses track the strength of their employer brand and EVP. Sources of insight include: 

  • Glassdoor. Review sites can provide a quick temperature check to understand the health of your employer brand and EVP. Glassdoor is particularly useful as there are a variety of ratings you can track in addition to the opinion ratings, such as what percentage of people approve the leadership and how many would recommend you as an employer, as well as more specific ratings related to culture, values and career opportunities. 
  • Retention statistics. Monitor your employee turnover rates as a high turnover rate could indicate that there is a disconnect between your employee value proposition and reality. Also keep a particularly close eye on the number of hires who leave within a short period of time.
  • Exit interviews. To get a clearer sense of why employees are leaving, ensure you conduct exit interviews. This will surface if employees feel, for instance, that there aren’t enough opportunities to develop, and therefore if the EVP needs improvement. 
  • Hiring metrics. If you have a strong employer brand you should be attracting candidates who clearly understand the role, the company and the culture. If your offers are being readily accepted then your EVP is likely striking a chord. 
  • Candidate feedback. Collect insights from candidates who have participated in interviews, regardless of the outcome. This may, for instance, surface problems with the candidate experience which can lead to individuals dropping out of the recruitment process or joining the company with some reservations. 
  • Social media. Are your employees advocates of your company on social media? If they are actively endorsing your brand it is a strong indicator that your employer brand is strong. 
  • Employee surveys. Regular short pulse surveys allow you to learn about employee experiences, monitor their engagement, identify trends and act accordingly.

How does being a skills-based organisation benefit your employer brand?

One of the many benefits of being a skills-based organisation is that it strengthens your employer brand

The alignment of skills to job roles allows individuals to contribute meaningfully to the organisation, utilising their strengths and making them happier and more productive - which ultimately fosters a positive work environment. 

Skills-based organisations are also more capable of retaining loyal and capable employees by identifying reskilling and upskilling opportunities that would be a good fit for them, based on their skills and adjacent skills. 

Talent retention is also made easier for those adopting a skills-based approach because they are much more focused on the development of their employees, meaning staff feel more valued and engaged. 

A 2018 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 77% of employees who left their jobs could have been retained, with a substantial proportion claiming that a lack of career development opportunities was the defining reason for their departure. 

“With LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2022 revealing that opportunities to learn and grow is now the number one factor that defines an exceptional work environment, the skills-based approach to development is a hugely attractive proposition for employees,” says Nick Shaw, Chief Customer Officer of Spotted Zebra. 

A skills-based talent management strategy demonstrates that an organisation has a commitment to employee development. Indeed, Deloitte’s study of 1,021 workers and 225 business and HR executives found that organisations adopting a skills-based approach are 79% more likely to have a positive workforce experience - not least because of the opportunities for career development that are fostered. 

Overall, Deloitte research has indicated that organisations building a skills-first culture are 63% more likely to achieve positive business and workforce outcomes than those who have not adopted skills-first practices, including providing a positive employee experience and retaining high performers. 

How does being a skills-based organisation benefit your employer value proposition?

It is clear that by emphasising their status as a skills-based organisation in their employer branding and their employer value proposition, companies have a clear opportunity to differentiate themselves in the labour market and attract the best candidates.

Skills-based organisations are able to foster a powerful employer value proposition by demonstrating they have:

  • A positive work environment where employees can contribute meaningfully.
  • A focus on employee development.
  • A culture of continuous learning and development. 
  • Clear career progression options.
  • A commitment to promoting and recruiting from within, which provides a sense of security.

Organisations such as Delta Airlines, for instance, are championing their skills-first approach as part of their EVP, demonstrating how it is helping them to increase frontline access to higher-earning career opportunities, and improve social equity

The redeployment of staff from sunset jobs into critical new roles is also something that will resonate as a value proposition given the changing nature of so many of today’s jobs. 

“We’ve seen significant layoffs recently,” notes Gomez. “But because skills-based organisations are able to redeploy workers rather than laying them all off, you can turn those kinds of stories on their head - and that is a massive selling point. If you’re able to demonstrate that you are an economically and socially responsible employer by being a skills-based organisation, then you will really stand out in the marketplace.”

With employees offered better job mobility, career development and provided with a clear idea about the skills they will need to grow their career, it’s little wonder that Deloitte research indicates that over three-quarters of workers would prefer to be employed by a skills-based organisation. And therefore something that would be a powerful component of any employer value proposition. 

If you want help with your employee branding from a skills expert perspective, our experts are available for a Skills Strategy Lunch and Learn. Click here to learn more and reserve a session for you and your team.