Employer Branding – Communication with Heart and Mind

What kind of employer branding will companies need to be seen as attractive in 2024? These questions are not only increasingly on the minds of our clients, they are also dominating the business world today. Those who fail to think about them are jeopardising the future viability of their business.

In a rapidly evolving business world where young talent and skilled workers are in short supply, employer branding is becoming a strategic imperative. How can I attract and retain top talent? What issues are relevant to my target audience? Where do I reach potential candidates? What kind of employer branding is needed to be perceived as an attractive company in 2024? Not only are these questions increasingly on the minds of our clients, they are also dominating the business world today. Those who fail to think about them are jeopardising the future viability of their business.

The communication of an attractive employer brand covers many areas. It must be equally effective internally and externally. Attracting the right talent, but also retaining and developing valuable specialists is important on both sides and is often a balancing act. Let’s take the recruitment of young talent as an example, because we are hearing more and more about the pressure many companies are under. Medium-sized companies and corporations are competing for young talent, “fruit basket benefits” are almost an insult, and it is no longer enough to simply offer high salaries.

In many of our current projects, we have looked closely at the challenges of recruiting young talent and worked on strategic solutions. After analysing and evaluating our workshops in detail, we have summarised the most important points in this article.

The World oft the new Generations

A look at the preferences and expectations of the highly competitive ‘new generations’ shows that attractive employer branding is becoming a critical factor in surviving in a talent-driven economy.

As the first generation to grow up in a fully digital age, Generation Z brings a unique set of expectations, values and communication preferences to the business world. Recognising this, aligning messages with these values and adapting to the dynamics, while keeping an eye on longstanding employees, is critical to standing out as a potential employer today. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z is not only looking for a well-paid job, but also has a deep desire for meaningful work and to feel ‘at home’ in a positive corporate culture.

The Candidate Journey – How does Gen Z find information?

When it comes to sources of information, Gen Z talents relies heavily on digital channels. Social media channels, company review platforms and personal networks play a central role in their decision-making. LinkedIn’s “Talent Trends 2022” study shows that 65% of young job seekers get their information from employee reviews on platforms such as Glassdoor or Kununu. At the same time, internal influencers are becoming increasingly important and play a key role in employer branding. Their personal opinions and experiences have a significant impact on how Generation Z perceives a company.

Targeted communication – a guide

As mentioned at the beginning, there is a lot of analysis and discussion about employer branding at the moment, and the touch points with the young target group are obvious, but how can the results be used to benefit the company’s image? What conclusions can be drawn for a possible communication strategy?

Based on our experience, we have developed a short guide and compiled some helpful tips:

  1. A company’s meaningful contribution to society and how the work of all employees can contribute to this should be communicated clearly and unambiguously. A compelling corporate purpose beyond profit, such as social engagement or sustainability, underlines values that are important to young talent.* Even if goals have not yet been fully achieved, this should be openly acknowledged and ways of improving should be highlighted. Showing character rather than interchangeability is the motto here.
  2. Communication should be authentic and transparent about the company’s culture, values and goals. Transparency builds trust. Truth beats smug self-promotion and adds depth. If you want to be convincing as a company, show your distinctive character, highlight success stories, but also openly communicate the challenges. Employer branding must not degenerate into the usual ‘marketing blah-blah’, but must reflect the true soul of the company. Even if the talent has already been recruited, the most important thing is to deliver what you promise. This authenticity must permeate all your actions.
  3. Actively involving employees in the communications strategy strengthens their role as brand ambassadors. By constantly encouraging them to share their own experiences, stories and successes, they become influencers for the company (for more ideas on this, see our article on “Employee Advocacy“). This shows the culture from the perspective of those who live it every day. As authentic ambassadors, they have a major impact on the employer’s image (see also “Video Trends“).
  4. Analysing the company’s digital presence is a prerequisite for reaching the target audience. Different communication channels should be used to disseminate the relevant messages. It is advisable to invest in a media mix that is adapted to the viewing and usage habits of the target group, e.g. videos, podcasts and interactive formats. The combination of moving image and text content on different platforms ensures the touch point where the talent to be recruited is most likely to be found.
  5. The many opportunities offered by social media platforms should be used to actively engage with potential talent. Responding dynamically to new input from the target audience shows appreciation and builds loyalty. Interaction and feedback also increase visibility on social media.

Communication with heart and mind

When we develop an employer brand, we look for the unique character of the company and develop a tailored and targeted campaign that appeals to the target group emotionally and with sound arguments. It’s not just about communicating rational facts, it’s about generating an emotional response from talented people through authentic, transparent and empathetic communication and by emphasising the common purpose. Publicist Vance Packard sums it up: “Communication is the art of aiming for the heart, but hitting the head.”

An attractive employer brand that also reflects the preferences and values of the new generations is more than just a recruitment strategy to attract top talent; it is a crucial element in building a lasting positive relationship between the company and its employees. We see time and time again that employer branding needs to be agile. In an ever-changing business world, it would be fatal not to constantly review your brand, adapt to new dynamics and reinvent yourself in some areas. Keeping your finger on the pulse is essential, which is why we are always happy to work with our clients to analyse the situation and develop effective strategies and measures.

*Source: “2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey

What’s the next step?

For a personal consultation, feel free to contact me at any time.

Mirja Ng-Metzker

Client Relations Manager