How to measure your employer brand and ensure your investment is worth the money.
Five metrics to consider when tracking your ROI
Strategic, authentic employer branding gets results. We’ve proven this over and over again. But what works best for one organisation is rarely the same as for another. How do you figure out what to focus on? And how do you ensure you see and can show the ROI? We’ve put together some thoughts for you to chew on.
It’s a classic challenge we hear week in, week out. Practitioners in the People and Culture or Talent space know the value of developing your employer brand. Whether you’re focusing on a small project or a significant build, strategic employer branding requires some level of financial investment. And sometimes other stakeholders in your business may not be convinced of the benefits yet. It’s likely you’ll need to build a strong business case to justify this budget spend.
And there’s a lot to do. Where do you start? What do you focus on for the best results? Do you develop an employee value proposition, focus on educating and empowering your hiring managers and leaders, or create people-focused content to tell your story?
The best place to start is to identify your specific goals. Ask the question, “what is the problem we’re trying to solve?” You need to start this journey with a clear view of the path ahead. And to make sure you’re staying on the right path, you need to measure and optimise your ROI.
Obviously, the big, well-resourced brands can invest in the classic sentiment / buzz tracking, both internally and externally, as well as brand recall and third party analysis of market trends / competitor benchmarking.
We actually have some doubts about the accuracy, validity and value of much of this - especially for smaller brands - and many of our clients need to be more pragmatic anyway.
Here are some of the fundamental things we suggest - for measurement of ongoing performance, and to track EB impact / health over time.
Start by benchmarking all key metrics
Before you do anything else, decide which metrics you want to track, and record your starting point. This first step is one that many people overlook - and unfortunately, once you’ve missed the boat, it can be difficult to backtrack down the line.
As your work takes hold, you’ll be wanting to see more followers on key channels (ideally segmented and identified as 'talent audiences' based on role), and better reach, engagement and conversion - whatever that looks like for you and your specific goals. You’ll also want to see an improvement in the funnelling of applicants through to conversion. If you need a hand identifying metrics that would be helpful to measure for your individual goals, get in touch and we’ll help you out.
There isn’t one measure of success - it’ll be different for everyone. If you’re starting out with an average of 20 screenable applications for every job you advertise, reaching 40 per role could be a great result. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with a high volume of middling calibre, and would prefer fewer applications of higher quality. Or maybe you just want to increase your overall employer brand in the market, or drive pride and connection in your current teams.
Whatever your specific goals are - make sure you’re getting your data at the beginning of your project. It’ll help you measure success, and it’ll also help you if you need to put together a business case for future investment in your talent attraction and retention capabilities. Here are 5 key areas that you might consider tracking to measure your ROI.
1. Aim to increase quality applications or expressions of interest
If you’re consistently struggling to fill roles, getting a higher number of applicants might seem like a good solution. But if you’re not getting the right people applying, you’ll end up in the same position (but now with a lot more admin and rejection calls to make). A better metric is an increase in quality applications or expressions of interest for your role.
Of course, “quality” is very subjective. We'd avoid measuring the number of applicants selected for an interview - some hiring managers may only ever pick the best five to interview!
The most common approach we see is to build and execute a consistent model of scoring all applicants at the pre-screening stage - ideally a number / % - and using this to benchmark and track performance. Your employer brand work should have a longer term impact, so we'd recommend extending this (ideally with talent pooling), to score them on quality now vs the future.
An example of categories to measure against could be:
- Definitely, now
- Maybe, now
- Maybe, in the future
Naturally, you could also segment this by role or level (e.g. Maybe, for a more junior role).
2. Know where your conversions are coming from
Locating your audience will be helpful for you to invest in the right channels. There’s not much point in putting out great recruitment content on Facebook if your audience is only on LinkedIn, or posting multiple job listings on SEEK if you’d get more interest from a poster on the noticeboard at the local pub.
This can be a little tricky to execute - for example, if someone sees the job opportunity on LinkedIn, but applies later in a different session directly via your website. You could consider asking the question during the application process, such as a form on your application page or a question in the interview. Either way, it’s useful to have some initial data to track and report on.
3. Get a gauge on sentiment early in the process
When does the candidate experience start - and when does it finish? It’s not when a candidate hits go on their application and enters your system. Their experience of your employer brand began before that, when they first encountered your brand. That might have been when they discovered your business online, when they heard a friend talking about their experience, or even as a customer. Likewise, the candidate experience doesn’t end with the outcome of the hiring process. If the candidate is successful, their employee experience is just as connected to your employer brand. And if they’re not successful, they can still have an impact on your brand - if they’ve had a negative experience, they’re likely to tell their peers (who are likely to be other potential candidates for you).
It’s important to gauge sentiment throughout the recruitment process, and start as early in the journey as possible. Consider a short applicant survey after application, to unpack perspectives about your business, referral sources, and awareness and appreciation of your EVP and wider employer brand. We also recommend a survey or interview for shortlisted candidates to deepen the understanding. And once you’ve decided on your perfect match, don’t forget the entry interview - this is a goldmine of information if done properly.
4. Understand employee satisfaction and success
Your employer brand isn’t just about talent attraction. It should also be about keeping your current employees with you, engaged, proud and performing.. Remember - the worst result of a recruitment campaign isn’t failing to hire. It’s hiring the wrong person. And the worst result of hiring the wrong person isn’t if they leave. It’s if they stay.
Here are a few metrics for you to consider when measuring employee satisfaction:
- Early attrition and overall desired retention rates
- Time to consistent success (if you’re able to measure this - it might even just be a percentage of employees who pass probation)
- Employee engagement and satisfaction
- Employee advocacy - engagement with initiatives and content, net promoter scores or similar
5. Make sure expectations are aligned with reality
Your employer brand and your EVP isn’t just a few sentences on a website or a few pillars in a job ad. It’s all about the promise you make to your employees about what it’s like to work with you. That’s why we always recommend that you don’t just sell a glossy value proposition that doesn’t line up with reality - it’ll end up much worse in the long run if your people feel like you’ve oversold the opportunity.
To make sure you’re delivering on your promises, we recommend tracking the sentiment of employees over time. Engage with new employees (for example, after one month and then again at six months) and adapt ongoing employee engagement surveys or pulse surveys. Make sure you can validate and evolve your talent promise.
This should absolutely extend to leavers. A meaningful, safe exit engagement will allow you to get a real understanding of why they're leaving, what could have prevented the exit, and the sentiments and advocacy level they have as they leave.
Done well, this engagement can also be used to ensure they leave knowing the door's open if they change their mind. Combine this with scheduled 'check ins' when they start their new job and beyond, and you can also get some of these people back, quickly or in the longer term.
Full, robust attribution of employer branding is really tough, especially outside of single campaigns. System integration issues, different stakeholders during the process, tracking challenges, and a myriad of other hurdles can make it difficult to measure. A classic challenge is confidently linking specific employer branding content or channel performance to individual hires. However, we track what we can and match this against the overall results. For example, if we're seeing parallel increases in social content performance, search visibility, site and job ad traffic and performance (and sources from employer brand focused channels), job ad views, and quality applications and hires... well, we can say with a decent level of confidence that we're winning.
If you want to find out more about how we can help you reach your talent attraction and retention goals, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you.