The Missing Links: Why Employer Branding Can Be Ineffective and Misleading for The Best Talent

Wednesday, 22 November 2023

As Millennials and Gen Z become dominant generations in the workforce, traditional methods for attracting and retaining top talent are proving less effective nowadays.

This significant change underscores the importance of employer branding in today's corporate environment. 

However, employer branding can sometimes be misleading if critical components are overlooked or misunderstood. 

I try to write this article to focus on these 'missing links' in employer branding strategies, drawing from both practical insights and research findings, to guide business leaders in creating a more effective approach.

The Misleading Facade of Employer Branding

Employer branding is a strategic initiative, and not an operational initiative, which means that top-level management must be involved in constructing a proper employer branding from the beginning.

Let's imagine employer branding as the outer shell of an egg, with layers beneath it representing talent acquisition, employee engagement, and corporate culture, leading to the core – executive leadership

A common misstep is treating employer branding as an isolated, operational, and superficial initiative

Such a narrow view can be misleading and detrimental to attracting the right talent.

In reality, a comprehensive employer branding strategy must delve deeper, addressing the broken talent acquisition process, which is often hampered by poor employee engagement due to a weak corporate culture, ultimately stemming from ineffective executive leadership.

Talent Acquisition: More Than Just a Front Door

A holistic employer branding strategy must encompass a robust talent acquisition process. If this process is perceived as superficial or inconsistent with the company’s true culture, it can mislead and repel top talent. 

According to Dabirian, Paschen, and Kietzmann (2019), effective talent acquisition, guided by astute executive leadership, is crucial in utilizing employer brand intelligence to attract and retain talent.

Employee Engagement: Beyond Surface-Level Perceptions

Employee engagement is critical, yet it is often superficially addressed in employer branding efforts. 

Kashyap and Rangnekar (2016) noted that genuine employer brand perception is closely tied to turnover intentions, mediated by trust in leaders. 

Superficial attempts at boosting engagement without addressing underlying issues can be misleading and fail to foster genuine brand advocacy.

Corporate Culture: The Hidden Truth Behind the Brand

A company's culture is the true foundation of its employer brand. 

Misalignments between a promoted employer brand and the actual corporate culture can be misleading to potential and current employees. 

As Maurya and Agarwal (2018) found, organizational talent management practices, when genuinely reflective of the employer brand, contribute significantly to its perception.

Executive Leadership: The Core Often Overlooked

The effectiveness of employer branding begins with executive leadership. Misleading employer branding often arises from a disconnect between the leadership’s actions and the brand’s message. 

Research by Ötken and Okan (2016) and Jain (2020) underscores the importance of top-level management leadership in shaping a credible employer brand.

Integrating the Missing Links for Authentic Employer Branding

Employer branding is not an isolated endeavor but a composite of various elements within a company. 

Biswas and Suar (2016) emphasize that leadership is a significant predictor of employer branding. 

Recognizing and integrating these elements is crucial for building an employer brand that is not only compelling but also authentic and not misleading.

Therefore, to avoid misleading the best talent in the market, business leaders must recognize employer branding as a multifaceted strategy requiring a holistic approach. 

By focusing on sincere executive leadership, authentic corporate culture, genuine employee engagement, and a transparent talent acquisition process that focuses on candidate's experience, companies can build a solid employer brand that truly represents the organization, ensures a positive and engaging workplace, and also accurately reflecting the company’s values and culture to attract the right talent available in the market.