At a time when companies are finding it difficult to attract staff with the right digital technology skills, consultancy Forrester encourages firms to re-think their employer brand, paying far more attention to the employee experience.

Rethinking the Employer Brand in Terms of the Employee Experience

A mere 16% of the companies surveyed for a report by Forrester Research entitled ‘Employee Experience defines your Digital Employer Brand’ claim to have the skills and resources they need to carry out their digital transformation successfully. Many company bosses complain that they are finding it difficult to recruit data scientists and software developers now that competition for their skills is really hotting up. People with digital skills are in demand not only from the Internet giants, digital startups and other Information and Communication Technology-oriented firms. Nowadays in all sectors, from banking to mass retail, companies are on the hunt for digitally-skilled staff.

Against this background, some commentators would argue that what companies most need to do in order to attract people is to revamp their digital employer brand. Forrester goes a step further, recommending that firms rework their overall company concept. Companies may be starting to change focus – the latest obsession is with the customer experience – but the employer brand needs to be geared to what its primary customers, i.e. its employees, are really experiencing. ‟Don’t build a brand, build an employee experience,” proclaim the authors of the Forrester report.

Les 4 piliers, reflets de la maturité digitale, sur lesquels Forrester recommande de construire sa marque employeur

The 4 pillars, reflecting a firm’s state of digital maturity, on which Forrester recommends building an employer brand (Forrester Research)

Accept the fact that you are not a Silicon Valley startup

The re-thinking process must begin with a highly important value: honesty. The starting point should be to obtain a realistic view of how far the company has progressed in terms of digital transformation. The Forrester reports underlines that perhaps companies should just ‟accept that they are not a Silicon Valley startup” and take a good look at how much progress they have been making, without being too judgmental about it. Once a company starts to see its relationship with digital technology in a clear light, this will enable the human resources department not only to objectively identify the next steps the firm needs to take, but also to explain clearly to potential recruits the roles they might be asked to play. To assess a company’s current degree of digital sophistication, say the Forrester experts, you need to observe four criteria, namely: To what extent is innovation integrated into the company culture? How far can job candidates see opportunities for career development at the firm? What technical credentials does the company possess? And what employee performance metrics are in place? An analysis of this overall picture should enable decision-makers to develop strategies designed to deliver a consistent ‘employee experience’ in line with the company’s level of digital maturity at that moment.

What would appeal to the best accountnt isn’t necessarily what would attract the best software developer

Aside from what might be likely to attract a potential recruit, it is equally important to focus on what the firm can offer him/her. The Forrester experts argue that nowadays companies need to increase the number of touchpoints with a potential hire – they ought for instance to be taking part in events and conferences, getting involved in academic programmes, and establishing a strong presence on LinkedIn or Glassdoor. Firms also need to be able to make use of the drivers that are important to potential recruits, which are not necessarily the same drivers that would encourage people in more traditional jobs.

Moreover, giving employees responsibility, trusting them, offering them greater autonomy plus opportunities for learning and career development, and also providing free access to the tools they need to be able to really shine on a project – all these are extremely important factors in ensuring workplace well-being for digitally-skilled recruits.

The Forrester report gives examples of firms such as PayPal and Spotify, which send positive signals to their employees, share systems engineering methodologies and publish lines of open source code. These are signals which resonate very strongly for a potential software developer or web designer recruit. ‟The employer brand is not just about attracting recruits but rather creating an environment in which employees with digital skillsets can flourish,” explains Forrester Research.

By Pauline Canteneur