The employer brand concept first started to appear in the 1990s to denote everything that defined a company and set it apart from others. A well-established employer brand gives companies an undeniable competitive advantage, allowing them to attract the best talent, promote loyalty and encourage employees to rally around their employer.
That said, to build a strong employer brand, companies must first get a solid grasp of their organizational dynamics by conducting a comprehensive study based on honesty and transparency. Between public perception, top-tier ambitions and employees’ everyday experience, is there a connecting thread? Is there a disconnect? It’s important to get a frank, precise picture of what is happening in employees’ day-to-day as well as in the public eye. To obtain such a portrait, there are four fundamental principles companies should consider: their raison d’être, their values, their culture and, last but not least, their way of communicating these three. Only after undertaking such a joint effort can companies really position their brand, identify what sets them apart and define a value proposition for their employees.
Once that is done, it’s important to develop programs that are in line with these principles, create compelling internal and external communications that convey this identity clearly, and ensure a thorough follow-up to make sure the message is consistent. In fact, everything employee-related, from candidate personas (ideal candidate profiles) to job postings and onboarding materials, should convey the employer brand.
So why is it necessary to take the time to rethink our recruitment processes and tools? For one, hiring new employees is an adventure that is becoming increasingly complex for many companies struggling to find their place inside a labour market moving at top speed.
People often mention the labour shortage, but there are other major factors making companies worth their salt take a new look at their hiring approach. Unprecedented employee mobility, for example, is causing a challenge for many. Since borders are no longer an issue, hiring international candidates has become a distinct possibility. It is entirely natural in our day to seek out experts from overseas.
That said, one thing that is truly changing the labour market is young people’s relationship to their work. Generations Y and Z (adults aged 20 to 40, essentially) now make up the biggest portion of available job candidates and, by the sheer force of their numbers, are redefining the rules of the industry. How is this so? They are reportedly much more demanding about corporate culture and values than their predecessors – and much looser when it comes to authority.
The younger generations are also establishing new social norms that companies must act upon if they are to remain relevant in the current day and age. The issue of inclusion and gender identity, considered to be much more fluid, less rigid and defined, is one such example of profound change that is certainly hard to ignore. But companies have much to do if they want to go beyond statements of intention and live up to true values based on thoughtfulness and caring.
Inclusive writing is one of the best tools at the disposal of organizations who understand the importance of being in tune with the times, who know that it’s in their best interest show concrete ways of marking their commitment. By using conscious language in their communications, they are voluntarily breaking from tradition, from old habit (such as using the generic masculine for fear of making their text too heavy) and speaking to audiences that are much more diverse – including non-binary people and those whose gender is unknown.
On a broader scale, companies who adopt a finely-tuned, well-communicated inclusion policy can increase the reach of their employer brand and substantially grow their followers. In fact, it can be seen as a statement designating an employer who offers fair working conditions and a healthy, respectful work environment for all employees.
Of course, inclusive writing can be met with much resistance. And with so many schools of thought on the matter, it’s hard not to get a bit lost. So where can companies begin? And how do they know not to take it too far? When we consider how gendered language can be, how do we keep things simple and flowing freely? These are all legitimate questions that reveal an underlying fear of change – and of the unknown. But they also tell us that now more than ever, it is time to take the plunge. We learn. We develop new reflexes, new habits. Hiring experts in conscious language can help companies stay on top of new trends and new standards, and respond accordingly. Bleublancrouge’s Brand Language team, for example, has made inclusive writing – a growing priority for many clients – an integral part of their everyday work.
Called upon to develop recruitment tools for BRP in collaboration with the client’s HR team, Brandbourg was mandated to conduct a detailed review of job posting templates. These templates were established following in-depth interviews conducted with the company’s recruiters from all over the world. In each template, BRP’s unique character, this yellow blood that flows through each employee, had to be at the forefront. But it was also important to rethink the tone and structure of each profile to make it attractive, inspiring and engaging to potential candidates. Lastly, to facilitate the integration of key messages into BRP’s job postings, we created a template tailored to each job posting, always keeping in mind the overarching employer value proposition as well as any functional and emotional factors that go into the candidate selection process.
To make sure that managers had the right tools at their disposal, we created an internal writing guide. With valuable before-and-after examples, preferred terms and other best practices, this document helped establish a clear list of priorities to follow when writing each job posting.
What can we learn from the BRP model? Much like the establishment of a strong employer brand, inclusive writing must not be seen as problematic, or as a passing trend. Rather, it is an effective recruitment tool that puts companies’ values at the forefront of their communications. It is a conscious decision that takes contemporary sensibilities into account and helps companies stand out in a market that is increasingly competitive.
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