Your Employer Brand Needs You to Put Business Before Talent

Employer brandig

by Andrew Kilgallon, Employer Branding lead at Atomic

In a world where the business and its people feel more disconnected than ever, you hold the key to alignment. Your employer brand needs attention. Forget understanding your people first; it’s time to put the business in the spotlight, front and centre.

The business battlefield

The business is under pressure. Economic headwinds inhibit growth, supply chains are causing chaos and AI and automation are pushing change faster than the business can respond. And what about your people? They’re looking for something different than before, something more. They want support with their mental health, more flexibility around their other commitments, a job with purpose and better development opportunities.

The symptoms of this misalignment are everywhere – attrition on the rise, a struggle to hire top talent, and whispers of discontent echoing on platforms like Glassdoor. It’s an “us” versus “them” scenario, and guess what. Nobody wins.

Businesses like yours have identified the solution – your employer brand. You’re taking charge, but the task ahead is not for the faint-hearted. Creating an employer brand is an exciting, yet daunting proposition. 

The power struggle

The process traditionally starts with the employee – understanding their needs, desires and expectations. It’s easy to see why you might put the employee first. The work environment that landed post-COVID meant businesses were put on the backfoot in the company-talent dynamic. Before it was always “what the company says, goes”. Trends and workplace phenomena like ‘the great resignation’, ‘quiet quitting’ etc. have shifted the power to talent. So companies started there.

In today’s competitive talent market it feels right to portray the business in the most glowing terms to lure the best people. We hear from talent teams that can’t compete with the “Googles or Apples of the world.” They feel they need to go above and beyond. 

Avoiding the pitfalls

While that might prove an effective short-term approach. it’s a ticking time bomb disguised as a feel-good employer brand:

  • Culture becomes fragmented when everyone is not pointing in the right – or the same direction.
  • Applications from the wrong people stifle recruitment and drive up cost.
  • People are hired for a culture that doesn’t exist. They leave, or stay and have a toxic influence.
  • Employees dismiss the employer brand as marketing fluff, it doesn’t engage, resonate or motivate.
  • Growth, innovation and competitive advantage are stunted when the wrong people get hired, or roles can’t be filled.

The business blind spot

Here’s the wake-up call: the business itself has been playing second fiddle for too long. As the guardian of the organisation’s heartbeat, it’s time for you to flip the script. Start your employer branding journey not with talent, but with a deep dive into organisational objectives, culture, and growth plans. 

Yes, cater to employee needs, but start with the business to set the stage for a powerful, not just appealing employer brand. You have the potential to re-balance the scales. That’s how you ensure developing a mutually beneficial employer brand. 

No winners, just balance

In this tussle for priority, there is no intended winner. The goal is balance between the business’ needs and those of the people who breathe life into it. When you communicate the business’ value clearly, showcasing how individual success aligns with corporate success, talent joins, stays and contributes.

About the author

Andrew Kilgallon is Employer Branding lead at Atomic. He partners with global and EMEA businesses to co-create authentic employer brands that allow them to Speak their truth.