In The Digital Age, Employees Can Be Your Best Recruiters Or Worst Critics

Too many companies ignore their strongest potential supporters and critics to attract new talent: their current employees.

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The looming skills gap should concern employers from all sectors, not just in the 10 cities with the biggest skills gapStates and cities are scrambling to re-invest in skills instruction and schools are reevaluating how to provide the “right” toolkit to students. As competition for global talent continues to accelerate, employers are not only rethinking training, but they need to find new ways to stand out and attract workers with the appropriate skill sets.

These days, hiring the right talent quickly is particularly important. Over the 10 next years, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs may become available as baby boomers retire and growth sparks new work, according to a study by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte. But with a skills gap, 2 million of those jobs could remain vacant. Companies are losing productivity, innovation and revenue with each job left unfilled. The average cost of an open position is now $53,594, according to Glassdoor ResearchThis is where employment branding comes into play.

Employment branding isn’t just another HR phrase or word—it’s the only way for companies in the digital age to provide the transparency required by job seekers and portray their brands accurately in the market to potential employees. In fact, more than 80 percent of leaders acknowledge that employer branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire talent, according to the LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2017 Report.

While most companies have adjusted customer service in the digital age, too many are overlooking an even more powerful audience when it comes to recruiting a skilled workforce: their own employees. Employees have the potential to be your biggest supporters, or worst critics. And they can greatly impact how skilled candidates view your company, corporate culture and brand, even before they apply for a job.

(Image credit: GE Reports via Getty Images)(Image credit: GE Reports via Getty Images)

Popular employment or candidate review sites like Glassdoor and INDEED, along with self-publish platforms like LinkedIn and Medium have turned your business into a glass house. The influence of these outlets is undeniable. Search for the names of most major brands, and Glassdoor is likely one of the top results. In our social media and sharing-obsessed culture, the employee voice is louder than ever before and has an even greater impact on the bottom lines of businesses. Without control over your corporate narrative, companies may face significant challenges with finding and hiring qualified talent, putting a drain on existing employees, the company itself and the economy at large.

The highest-rated Fortune 500 companies in WilsonHCG’s third annual Employment Branding Report have consistently invested in and evolved their employment branding efforts, including candidate engagement, recruitment marketing and social responsibility, to align with the behaviors and preferences of job seekers today. Going a step further, these organizations are also conducting employment brand health checks utilizing the evaluation criteria listed in the report and using that insight to perfect areas of strengths while boosting the elements that need improvement.

Companies that prioritize employment branding benefit significantly. Fortune 500 companies with a top 10 employment brand ranking had combined revenues four times greater than organizations ranked in the bottom 10. A strong employment brand attracts high-performing employees, who contribute to your company’s innovation, drive better customer satisfaction and increase productivity.

At the end of the day, employment branding matters regardless of company size or industry. Transparency exists regardless of whether or not you welcome it. People will publish information about your company on social media and digital platforms whether or not you’re paying attention. Taking a proactive, strategic approach to employment branding for each of your business segments allows you to connect to a qualified workforce. Ultimately, this will ensure you attract the best people and remain ahead of your competition while others are falling through the skills crack.

John Wilson is the founder and CEO of WilsonHCG, a top global recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and talent-consulting firm. John’s innovation and extensive experience in the RPO industry has made him a respected authority in the HR community. He consults business leaders on a range of human capital topics, including talent acquisition, diversity recruitment and leadership, employment branding, talent communities, strategic workforce planning, leadership development and succession management strategies. John is also an expert on hiring, motivating and retaining gen Y employees, and has advised Fortune 500 companies on their emergence in the workforce.

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