5 Signs Your Employer Brand Could Use an Overhaul Jessica Lunk In today’s congested business landscape, brand is everything. It’s what represents the promises you’ve made to your customers. But what many business leaders forget is how the brand promise also impacts employees. In fact, your employer brand can begin to create expectations in your employees before they even become your employees. Your ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent can either be bolstered or hindered by your brand. How can you know if your brand is in trouble? Here are five red flags to look for. Difficulty Recruiting Quality Candidates In a job market where there are more open positions than there are employees to fill them, it’s especially important to have a strong, positive employer brand. When candidates have their pick of opportunities, they have the luxury of being choosy. If you’ve noticed that your job openings aren’t attracting much attention or the quality of your candidates is declining, it could be due to a poor brand image. What information are applicants finding about your company when they do their research? Low Employee Engagement A dip in employee engagement levels could be a sign that your brand isn’t living up to its promises. While your employees may not raise their hand to tell you they are not engaged, your turnover rate is a strong indicator of engagement. In fact, employee turnover among millennials – the leaders of tomorrow – costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually (Gallup) Not only does high turnover mean you have to invest more in recruiting and training than businesses with low turnover, it can also affect your ability to grow your staff. In fact, when it comes to employee experience, just as happy team members will spread the word, so will those who are dissatisfied. How do you fix turnover? Gather data from your workforce and act on the insights: Survey your staff to measure job satisfaction. You may be surprised to learn that benefits like flexible work hours, opportunities to earn bonuses, telecommuting, goal structure, professional development and more can help curb turnover and improve engagement.Use salary guides to compare employee compensation to evaluate your competitiveness in the candidate pool. Underpaid employees who leave may cost your business more in the long run. Conduct exit interviews. It may be difficult for current employees to be completely upfront about their concerns, but those who are leaving may welcome the opportunity to share the reasons they left. Lack of Company Purpose Company purpose matters more today than ever. In fact, 40% of Millennials who plan to remain in their jobs beyond 2020 say their employers have a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success (Deloitte). So, if you’re chasing revenue goals without a mission, purpose or culture, don’t expect your team to get behind you. When people feel like they’re a part of a bigger purpose and they believe that their employer shares the same values as them, compensation, perks and other extrinsic factors don’t matter as much. If you start to notice a growing number of employees placing more of an emphasis on these things, such as asking for raises or grumbling about your benefits package, it could be sign that your employer brand is no longer resonating with your workforce. How do you instill a sense of purpose in your company culture? Focus on the ways that your business is making a positive impact. 44% of millennials believe business leaders are making a positive impact and still have some faith in business’ ability to enact meaningful change in society (Deloitte), while 88% of millennials found their job more fulfilling when they were provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues (Cone Communications). So whether your closet-organizing company helps people work toward less waste by using their space efficiently, or your marketing agency chooses one non-profit a year to offer free services to, tap into the good in your business and use it to fuel your purpose. No Path for Advancement No one expects to stay in the same role forever, and it’s especially true with millennial movers and shakers. Less than 40% of millennials and 30% of Gen Z workers feel they have the skills they’ll need to succeed, and they’re looking to businesses to help ready them to succeed in this new era (Deloitte). And you better believe that this generation has no trouble leaving their company to advance. In fact, according to Gallup, 93% of millennials left their company the last time they changed roles. Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position, Bridge reports. So if you don’t have a clear path of advancement for your employees, you can expect engagement to fall and turnover to kick in. However, if you’re a small business, helping your employees see growth in their role can seem challenging. Smaller teams have less room for upward mobility. But that doesn’t mean your employees have to stagnate in their roles. Encourage them to learn a new skill, enroll in courses, attend conferences or take on a speaking opportunity. Professional development is more than a fancy job title, and you can find ways to help every member of your team grow into a leader in your company. Lack of Flexibility 95% of millennial employees report that work/life balance is important to them, with 70% saying it’s a very important aspect of their careers (Deloitte). If you’re more concerned about when your team clocks in than the quality of their work, it may be time to inject a little flexibility into your business. Allowing for remote work, telecommuting and flex-time can do wonders to keep your team happy and engaged in their work. But flexibility doesn’t stop there. Bringing your pet to work is the new norm, and millennials are far more likely to continue employment at a company that implements pet-friendly policies (60%) than their elders (39%) (Banfield). And flexible leave can help you retain key employees. The Caring Company reports that one-third of all workers had quit a job to attend to caregiving responsibilities. Meanwhile, (Unum) reports that 58% of all workers and 64% of millennials want paid family leave from their employers, ranking at the top of in-demand perks like flexible and remote work options (55%), sabbaticals (38%), student loan repayment assistance (35%), pet-friendly workplaces (15%) and pet insurance (15%). Change is tough, and investing in your employer brand may not seem like a top priority. However, when you measure the cost of employee disengagement and attrition, employer branding is a valuable investment. Your employer brand is certainly as important as your consumer brand. By knowing what signs to watch for, you can be more proactive about creating, nurturing and sustaining a strong brand image that will keep your workforce happy, engaged and loyal.