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Managing the employer brand is increasing in importance

HR heads are increasing the number of specialist support managers leading employer brand projects within their departments as companies see employer brand management as a more critical business tool to stay ahead of the competition.

The number of talent management and employer brand managers leading employer brand projects has increased nearly threefold (from 10% to 28%) in the past four years, according to a new survey from People in Business.

The survey was conducted among 104 national and international companies to evaluate current standards of employer brand practice. 

In addition, the number of CEOs driving employer brand development has almost tripled in the past four years, taking ownership away from corporate brand marketing and communications and resourcing teams. 

HR departments have maintained their leading role with the increasing support of specialists within their team, as around half (49%) of HR teams lead on employer brand projects.

The survey also highlighted an increasing trend to use employer brand thinking to shape overall HR strategy. 

Forty three per cent of the companies surveyed, which had employer brand strategies, said they had used it to shape their overall people management strategy. And of those that are currently developing their employer brand, 72% said they will use it to review their people management processes and strategy, including performance management, learning and development and leadership and behaviours.

The importance of employer brand value to business is further supported by the fact that, despite the economic climate, organisations continue to make a significant investment in it. The survey showed a spend of £5-£6 per employee on research and development and first-year creative development and communication.

When asked about benefits, respondents cited significant internal and external benefits of a successful employer brand strategy including an improved ability to attract the right kind of talent (60%), more consistent employee communication across the company (54%), improved external employer brand reputation (54%) and higher levels of employee engagement (43%).

While all organisations surveyed used a range of metrics to measure the success of their employer brand programmes, there was a greater emphasis placed on measurement among those organisations currently developing theirs. Overall, the majority of organisations use, or plan to use, employee engagement, external employer brand image and employee retention as success metrics.

Sophy Pern, director of People in Business, said: "Developing and harnessing the power of the employer brand helps bring focus to people management, providing a lens through which to test HR plans. This is enabling companies get more with less, adding to both growth and profitability. As the importance of having and managing an employer brand is increasingly recognised and its contribution is moving up the company agenda, we’re seeing an increase in senior management and specialist involvement.

 "This is good news as a cross-functional approach is absolutely key to success. But employer brand management is a long-term investment; it’s not a short-term project and HR managers need to continue to build capability to maintain it and move from an ‘employee and process’ mindset to one that is driven by ‘customer and experience’ outcomes."