Businesses live and die by their ability to attract the best talent. Without the right people, franchisors are left with no one to launch their companies into the stratosphere. But, in an increasingly candidate-led labour market, finding high-quality employees to man the take-off is easier said than done.
While an unemployment rate of 5.1% may sound like stellar news for the UK, the skills shortage has left franchisors with a limited talent pool from which to source candidates. It also means that jobseekers can afford to be picky about who they apply to work for. “More and more people want to work for employers that they believe will treat them well and offer an attractive working environment,” says Joao Araujo, country manager at Universum, the employer branding experts.
The trick to winning the talent war for franchisors is to ensure that they have strong employer brands. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, an employer brand is a company’s reputation for how it treats its staff. So while a company brand attracts customers, an employer brand attracts potential employees. “Without a good employer brand, we’d lose market share, our franchisees would miss opportunities and we’d miss the best candidates,” says Suzie McCafferty, franchise director at Select Appointments, the recruitment agency.
Poor employer branding doesn’t just slash franchisors’ chances of attracting talent; it can also see recruitment costs skyrocket. Recent research from LinkedIn revealed that companies with subpar employer branding on average have to offer 10% bigger pay packages than competitors with better reputations. In other words, franchisors who don’t take control of their employer brands can find themselves failing to recruit candidates at reasonable prices. “It’s crucial that your company can tell its own story,” says Mark Di-Toro, careers expert at Glassdoor, the online employer review service. “Your employer brand is your reputation; if you don’t define it, someone else will.”
And that someone could be a franchisor’s own workforce. Social media and employer-review sites like Glassdoor have provided employees with countless platforms to vent how they really feel about employers. And it seems prospective jobseekers are interested in their comments. “Candidates are looking to hear from their peer group, rather than from the employer,” says Duncan Berry, COO at Bluebird Care, the care company. “As an employer, you have to be increasingly aware of social media comments and how people rate you online.”
So while an exceptional About Us page on a company’s website may have been enough to convince candidates in the past, that is no longer the case. “All companies try to create a good culture and employer brand but you cannot hide from social media if you are not great,” says McCafferty. Ultimately, ‘fake it until you make it’ won’t cut it with employer branding. Franchisors have to make a genuine effort to be a great employer in order to build a fantastic employer brand.
Araujo advises franchisors looking to boost their employer brands to start by asking themselves one question: “Why do we exist as an organisation?” By asking that question, employers can pinpoint what the company’s vision and values are, which can also help motivate staff. “They will feel that they are part of something larger than just the office they are working in,” says Berry.