employer brand

#WorkTrends: Why You Need a Talent Brand, Not an Employer Brand

This week on #WorkTrends, agency founder and author Lee Caraher has a wake-up call for all of us. Her message? We need to stop focusing on our “employer brand” and start building a talent brand.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Find a Better Way to Retain Millennials

Back in 2008, Lee had a problem — a big one. Her agency, Double Forte, couldn’t retain millennial employees. At first she figured it must be the millennials’ problem, but when they kept quitting she realized it was the organization’s problem.

She was reading negative headlines everywhere about millennials when she decided to stop looking for answers elsewhere and build her own solution. “I rejected everything bad that I heard,” she says. She knew finding a solution mattered: “A business without millennials is a business without a future,” she says.

She recommends one big change to anyone leading a team: Build a culture of appreciation. “The research shows that teams that feel appreciated outperform those that don’t by 30 percent. I grew up in a household where ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ were implied,” she says. “I thought people knew I appreciated them, but they didn’t. So I started saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and by the end of the month everyone else was saying it too. Our nonbillable time went down. People worked better, faster and more efficiently.

“This is a human trait, not a millennial trait. We all work better when we’re appreciated. People come to our office now and say ‘You guys are so nice to each other.’ But that didn’t just happen. You have to practice.”

Through trial and error and a lot of hard work, the company tripled the tenure for people under 30 — to 4 1/2 years.

Create a Talent Magnet

Building an employer brand is about building a great place to work. That’s really become “an arms race of perks,” Lee says — the best paternity leave, free lunch, laundry on-site. “But the best talent is not inspired by perks. The people who are going to drive your business aren’t inspired by free lunch. They are inspired by being around other great people.”

Instead of trying to build an employer brand, Lee’s team focused on building a talent brand — a company known for attracting great talent. That distinction will only become more important as organizations compete for top talent, she says. “If you’re known as a talent brand where great people come to work, you’re going to have a strategic advantage over just being a great place to work.”

Build a Place for Boomerangs

“If you’re born today, you have a 50 percent chance of living to 104,” she says. “We’re going to be working for 60, 70 years, people. There’s no way that one company can hold someone for 70 years.” Because of that change, companies have to think differently about their alumni — former employees. “If we’re going to be sustainable, we have to break the old paradigm of ‘If you leave, you’re dead to me,’ ” she says. “When someone leaves that may not reflect on us at all. It’s all about the person crafting their career.”

So, it’s normal and expected for someone to leave, but if you have a strong talent brand, you might be able to get them back to your organization down the line. “Inspire loyalty for that person’s entire career,” she says.

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

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