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How to brand your business to attract talent

What companies think their employees want to feel less stressed and more engaged with the business and what they say they actually want are two different things. We discuss a recent study into what makes businesses happy and discuss the lessons it offers in order to become more appealing to future talent.

The study conducted by consulting firm Borderless focused on the level of organisational strength and vitality within companies in Europe and the US. Key findings include:

  • Employees in organisations based in Europe rate their vitality levels to be significantly lower than employees in organisations based in North America.
  • On the whole, executives report a general absence of a culture of support and constructive feedback within their organisations.
  • Respondents value meeting effectiveness as extremely low and see it as a substantial energy drain. Respondents aged under 45 score particularly low on this factor.
  • Respondents report a lack of support from superiors, and the general absence of a culture of support and constructive feedback.

The 5S model for organisational vitality

Lessons for comms teams

Niels-Peter van Doorn, architect and facilitator for organisational development at Borderless, believes these findings show that comms professionals must change how they communicate about businesses in order to attract more talent,: “Now that the economy is picking up again, many organisations expect a shortage of skilled talent. For this reason, they spend extra effort on employer branding, which is where PR professionals come in.

“Employer branding tends to focus on a combination of communicating the company values and outlining specific career opportunities for target audiences. But what would the PR approach be like if it was built it on a more contemporary perspective of how companies engage with employees and how employees connect to their employers?”

Van Doorn explains how the Borderless study focuses on five factors that determine the engagement and vitality of individual employees. “These factors – which together constitute the 5S model for organizational vitality [see graphic] – are a combination of hard and soft factors, and also combine organisational and individual aspects.“

The surprising outcome of the study is that the main factors that drive an individual’s connection to companies are different from the ones PR people may usually have focused on when promoting companies in the past says van Doorn.

“Executives may try to adapt to changing circumstances by constantly changing the strategies and the structure of their organisations – but individuals claim that their vitality and engagement would be served much better by more effective interactions between the different organisational functions. They also state that relevant support from their superiors is mostly missing, be it in the form of practical guidance, constructive feedback or emotional support. These topics create very specific opportunities for organisations to improve productivity and engagement. Building their employer branding on these factors will also make these companies more effective in the job market – attracting talent and setting the organisation apart from its competitors.”

Be honest!

In conclusion, van Doorn says that by working out exactly why a business has an engaged workforce, comms professionals can tailor recruitment communications that are more authentic and therefore more appealing: “How would you feel about applying for a job at a company that understands your true needs up front? How attractive is a company that communicates that their success is based on your engagement, and understands what it takes to keep you engaged? My bet is that company would not have a shortage of skilled talent, but a problem handling all the applications.”

Further information

Over 400 global executives responded to a series of quantitative and qualitative questions in an online survey. Read the full report here: Benchmark Study on Organisational Vitality report 

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