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Employer Branding in Switzerland: 5 insights and our recommendations

The job market in Switzerland is rapidly changing due to technological transformations and more recently due to the Corona crisis - a shortage of skilled professionals included. In a study conducted in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), Great Place to Work® Switzerland evaluated the impact on employer branding and recruiting in Swiss organisations. In doing so, we wanted to know in more detail where organisations in Switzerland see themselves, what their priorities are and what is currently changing. We have compiled some of our most exciting findings here, combined with recommendations and tips for getting started.

Why focus on employer branding?

If organisations want to be and stay attractive as employers, they must be compelling both internally and externally. Only in this way will they be able to attract and retain the best professionals. After all, we are in an employee market today: it is no longer enough to place a job advertisement and hope for numerous applications from the best talents. Rather, companies have to communicate to the outside what they already live internally. This is where employer branding comes into play. A strategic activity for management in which marketing strategies are used to communicate human resources efforts to the outside world and to position an organisation as an attractive employer and stand out from its competitors.

For this, the employer brand should be authentic, distinctive and future-oriented. This raises the question: how do companies develop a strong employer brand? And what about the positioning of Swiss organisations? To answer this question, we present some findings from our study (DE) in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland and give a few tips on how you can position your own employer brand in the employer market.

1. Most organisations are still in the early stages

Do you feel your organisation could do more to be an attractive employer? You are not alone in this! While more than half of the respondents see their employer brand as authentic and well aligned with their workplace culture, only a third say that the brand is also fully communicated throughout the organisation. Likewise, only one third of the respondents have the impression that they or their organisation can successfully differentiate themselves from the competition by means of the employer brand. So there is still room for improvement! And this doesn't mean you need exorbitant TV spots and campaigns – already a few unique and original ideas can help you to stand out. Are you a sports retailer and do your employees have the option of testing products or borrowing them for private use? Involve your employees and create honest, personal and exciting stories. 

2. Often there is a lack of strategic embedding

With the growing importance of recruitment, the demands on HR managers are also increasing (see chart below). The old scheme of "post and pray", i.e. publishing job ads and then hoping for good applications, has had its day in the vast majority of sectors. Instead, the multifaceted, sometimes technically complex measures require new skills. With profiles such as the "Active Sourcing Manager", completely new requirement profiles are emerging.

 

EN Employer Branding Visual 1

Sourcers and recruiters are currently working under difficult conditions. For example, half of the companies surveyed state that they do not have their own employer marketing budget. Likewise, only half of the participants state that the management levels actively support the topic. For successful embedding in the corporate strategy, employer branding must not be seen exclusively as a "task of HR". At executive level, it must also be clear what values the organisation stands for and how it differentiates itself from the competition on the employer market. Otherwise, unfortunately, it continues to be the case that "employees come for the culture, stay for the job and leave for the managers".

3. Know your own strengths and weaknesses as an organisation 

If you believe the job ads, Switzerland should be overflowing with "creative, dynamic organisations with exceptional benefits, flat hierarchies and the opportunity to make a difference". The reality looks somewhat different. If you want to hire for a (new) position and are posting a vacancy, it is essential to know your own strengths and weaknesses and to write an honest job description. After all, having a perfect-sounding job ad with an advertising agency and losing new employees within a short time because they are disappointed by the reality costs twice. So don't just pile up empty phrases but give serious thought to what you offer as an employer that others do not.

For more on what practices have proven successful in our experience, click here.

4. Attention can be bought - credibility cannot

According to Randstad's employer branding study (DE), 80% of HR managers agree that a strong employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to recruit good candidates. Of course, you can spend a lot of money to promote yourself as an attractive employer: Advertising space and videos or glossy brochures can help to generate attention for your employer brand. In the short term, you may receive more applications and thus be able to fill some positions. However, if newly recruited employees leave the company before long, this indicates that the workplace culture advertised in the job opening does not correspond to reality. In the medium and more so in the long term, it is therefore more beneficial to actively invest in the workplace culture and thus be a good employer from within than to spend a lot of money on promotional measures. Because: In the long run, only those who are truly attractive are attractive.

5. Do good - and (let people) speak about it

People work for cultures rather than for companies. Their perception of you as an employer is therefore of utmost importance. According to abovementioned Randstad study, both recruiters and candidates cite company culture as one of the most important factors influencing their choice of an employer. Candidates actively research the culture of companies to determine whether they will be a good fit for them. If they find positive employee and candidate experiences on review sites, they feel more confident to submit their CV and make a career move.

Successful employer branding is much more than a glossy brochure. It is therefore not only important to have a good workplace culture or to offer employees benefits, but also to communicate these externally - and at least as importantly - internally. In some cases, not even employees are aware of certain benefits or strengths of an organisation. However, if you find your strengths as an organisation, employees will talk about them. And with an excellent workplace culture, they are the best "brand ambassadors" when it comes to filling new positions.

With a great workplace culture, it is no magic trick to understand, emphasise and authentically communicate one's own strengths as an employer. After all, an effective employer promise communicates to the outside world what is lived on the inside.

Extra tip from our expert: "The application process should be straightforward and fit the company culture." 

You know your strengths as an organisation and can also be open with the “work in progress"? And you know who you want to address and how? Congratulations, you are already ahead of the market for the most part. 

The next step is to make the application process efficient and user-friendly - after all, it would be a shame to lose suitable talent due to avoidable mistakes. My tip: Don't forget the basics and make sure that applicants have a positive user experience.

  • You are looking for motivated, committed personalities and your career profile says prominently "we hire for attitude and train for skills"? If you ask for degree and GPA in the first form, it doesn't look very authentic.
  • The majority of candidates abandon the online application in the middle of the process? Go through the application process again step by step and look for possible pain points. Maybe the recruitment tool or certain steps in the process need to be rethought.
  • You have received a number of promising applications?  Don't wait too long to get back to them and be as transparent as possible about the upcoming process. This way you avoid frustration among the applicants and prevent the best talents from bouncing early.

Michael 01

Michael Herrman, Co-Owner & Consultant at Great Place to Work® Switzerland

 

Would you like to learn more about us, our approach or trends and best practices? I am at your disposal for a non-binding conversation.

 

 

 

About the study

  • Data collection took place from September to November 2020.
  • 181 experts from Swiss organisations took part.
  • From small companies (6 employees) to international corporations (30,000+ employees), all company sizes were represented.
  • The study was conducted jointly by the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and Great Place to Work Switzerland. Our special thanks go to the team of Prof. Dr. Benedikt Hell and Sina Vögeli for the great cooperation!


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