In Accenture’s experience, employers who successfully merge all these elements have certain traits in common. They tend to approach employer branding not just as a goal in itself, but rather as part of a larger end-to-end process. They consider employer brand at every stage of an employee’s journey, through the recruiting, onboarding, employment, and advocacy phases.
Organizations with a strong employer branding strategy also lean heavily on data, establishing metrics to ensure continual, dynamic measurement and optimization throughout the employer branding process.
In organizations that struggle with this strategy, the employer brand may be disconnected from the core drivers of the business. Managed solely by the HR department, it can become associated merely with superficial perks.
Ideally, the employer brand process will instead be spearheaded by the agency’s top executives, who are best positioned to develop the talent framework – defining the key qualities, behaviors, and motivations of the target workforce.
Top level buy-in also helps to ensure the employer brand that emerges will be leveraged consistently across all elements of the organization.
Establishing your federal agency’s employer brand
Federal agencies that are early in their employer branding journey shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the process. There are a number of easily attainable first steps.
Key to the process is development of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Created through a rigorous process of internal and external research, the EVP encompasses an organization’s mission, values, and culture. It embodies all the reasons someone might want to work for you – what the agency has to offer in exchange for all the skills and experience employees bring to the table.
Developing an EVP is key to understanding and communicating the employer brand. A well-articulated EVP helps to organize recruitment marketing and is a woven throughout the candidate and employee experience. Accenture research shows that only 12 percent of federal leaders have a view of such a clearly articulated value proposition for their agency, indicating there are important opportunities for federal agencies to focus on developing their EVP and ultimately attract and retain better talent.
Agencies can begin now to assemble the data that will feed the EVP. Employee surveys, exit interviews, social media sentiment, and other sources can help agencies identify recurrent themes and perceived strengths, driving the deeper conversations that will inform the EVP.
Agencies can also begin to identify their brand ambassadors – engaged employees whose personal stories will help to bring the EVP to life and give the brand an authentic voice.
The next steps to solidifying an employer brand will involve intensive research across the organization. For example, to support a federal agency’s employer brand, Accenture conducted focus groups and interviews with people within the organization from all levels and workstreams. We also held external focus groups with “lookalike” candidates, or people who matched the recruiting criteria, to gain firsthand insight into public perceptions of the agency, its employer brand, and components that reflect its EVP.
In another federal agency, we helped attract top-tier talent for STEM positions through a process that included an internal audit and stakeholder interviews, as well as focus groups with prospective candidates where we learned about attitudes and beliefs toward the agency.
This methodical, data-driven approach can help agencies refine and communicate their employer brand, attracting a broader and deeper applicant pool.
A human-centric, data-driven strategy around employer branding represents a powerful path forward for federal agencies looking to earn a prominent place in the eyes of jobseekers. A strong employer brand ensures federal government will be competitive among applicants with increasingly high workplace expectations and boosts the likelihood of retaining top talent needed to achieve their missions.