Academic journal article Journal of Marketing and Management

The Strength of the Employer Brand: Influences and Implications for Recruiting

Academic journal article Journal of Marketing and Management

The Strength of the Employer Brand: Influences and Implications for Recruiting

Article excerpt

Introduction

Demographic trends in most of the developed world are forcing companies to rethink their roles in the labour market. It is becoming more and more apparent that it is not the multiple candidates that compete for the same position in a company but rather that there are several companies and positions within them competing for the same candidate. Because of this the role of human resource management is changing, adding to their usual obligations also the task of "selling" the positions. In doing this it may be useful to seek help in areas that were previously thought as pure marketing department areas.

Building on the idea of the reputation of companies and their brand turned up the idea of a company's brand as an employer - the employer brand. The term was first introduced by Amber and Barrow (1996) to describe the complex factors that attract the best employees to seek a job in a particular company. Some authors are already arguing that it may be unfair to characterise it as another business buzzword (Ewing et al., 2002) as it is growing exponentially in importance. Similar concepts include employment branding (e.g. Ewing et al., 2002), employer knowledge (e.g. Lievens et al., 2005), firm reputation (Brooks et al., 2003), employment image (Highhouse et al., 1999) and others. These concepts all appeared as a response of companies to the tightening employment markets due to demographic trends and structural changes in the economy.

Employer branding is already widely used in everyday business practice. There are several researches and rankings that measure the best employer in one country, region, industry etc., using different methodologies; for example the annual Fortune Magazine and their partner the Great Place to Work Institute survey. These researches and ratings target employees of the companies and ask for their opinion about the company they work for (thus measuring the internal employer branding). But in spite of its wide popularity among practitioners, the lack of academic research in this field is notable. Only a handful of papers could be found dealing theoretically with the problems of corporate reputation in the labour market and employee attraction and empirically testing the ideas.

Our research differs from the all above in the fact that we target potential and not current employees of the company, thus establishing how a company is seen by the external audience - external employer branding. The idea of having a strong employer brand is for both attracting and retaining the best employees. We decided to focus on the employee attraction. Our research also differs from some other researches on the attractiveness of employers (e.g. Lievens et al., 2005, Highhouse et al., 1999, Collins and Stevens, 2002, Turban and Cable, 2003) in the fact that it is not focused on a particular employer or industry and it is not performed on a particular group of candidates, e.g. students. It is a broad research covering the whole job market in a country (Slovenia), encompassing a wide array of candidates of all ages and education groups as well as companies from across the whole economy.

The main question of our research is to develop a model that captures different aspects of the (external) employer brand and establish which factors affect the different levels of employer brands the most. The present study extends the literature in three ways. Firstly, we summarize the existing literature on employer branding and its strength in order to get a concise definition of the strength of employer brand. Secondly, we develop a method for measuring the strength of the employer brand, propose a model to assess what influences this strength and empirically test the model. And thirdly, we make recommendations that help companies improve their employer brand and gain advantage when competing for the candidates they are looking for.

The paper is structured as follows. After this introduction, we first make a short summary of the developments that led to the development of the employer brand. …

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