In the latest edition of TALiNT Interntaional, Matthew Blake, Chief People Officer at SThree, discusses the importance of having a forward-thinking employer brand strategy and who is responsible for it.

The success of any business is driven by people. But in today’s competitive market, it’s more challenging than ever to attract the right people. And even when people have joined a business, organisations must constantly work to retain them.

We’ve seen systemic shifts in what people expect from their employers in recent years. Salary and stability are no longer the cornerstone of a great place to work. Flexible and remote working are great examples of large-scale trends that have quickly become a norm for anyone considering a new career – just five years ago, this was something only a handful of businesses could (or would) offer.

Times are changing

The bottom line is that people are more discerning about who they work for and what they do. We’ve seen a ground-swell of focus on purposeful work. Glassdoor research with job hunters in the UK, US, France and Germany showed that 77% of people consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying for a role.

Employer branding therefore has an increasingly critical role to play in communicating what people can expect from you as an employer and setting out the two-way deal that your organisation makes when people join your team. Other research from Glassdoor found that 94% of people are likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages their employer brand.

So, organisations across the globe are evolving to put more focus on their employer branding. According to LinkedIn’s Ultimate List of Employer Brand statistics, 55% of recruiting leaders worldwide have a proactive employer brand strategy. This growing focus on employer branding is helping to shift its reputation from ‘marketing fluff’ to a strategic, value-add essential that can reduce hiring costs, speed up the recruitment process, enhance employee engagement, build employee advocacy and have a direct, positive impact on the bottom line.

While more and more organisations have moved away from asking ‘why’ they need to focus on their employer brand, there is still a big question mark over ‘who’ owns it.

Where does employer brand sit?

Depending on who you ask, you’re likely to get different answers on who should own employer brand. Is it the CEO, who sets the direction and strategy for the business? Should it be down to your Marketing or Communications teams? Too often, organisations think HR should own it as it ultimately relates to people.

But forward-thinking businesses will already know that this is bigger than any one department. Employer branding touches every milestone of the employee journey from awareness and attraction, through to onboarding, development and to ultimately saying farewell, so it’s right that many people have a stake in it.

At SThree, we define employer brand as how we are perceived – what people say, think and feel about working with us, and how the outside world views us as an employer. We have specialists all over the world who manage our employer brand, but we believe it is owned by everyone.

This year, we’ll be refining our employer brand strategy to take our offering to the next level. Working with every area of the business, we’ll be building something that reflects the voice of our amazing people across the globe, captures the essence of our unique culture and embodies our enviable position in the marketplace.

And this collaborative approach is the key to success. Where the role of employer branding sits within your business is less important than ensuring that whoever is leading it gathers data, insight and feedback, both internally and externally, to build buy-in and support across departments, functions and geographies. This is how you ensure that your employer brand is rooted in an authentic story that resonates with people and helps your organisation to meet the ever-changing needs of your workforce.