Measuring Your Employment Brand: Part 2: The Long and Short of It

So you’ve started an Employment Branding program. You are refining your messaging, upgrading the career site and adding new tactics to your social media arsenal. There’s just one problem: you really don’t know how—or maybe even if—it’s working.

The good news is that you’re not alone. A recent LinkedIn survey of global recruiting leaders found that “despite the importance of employer brand, almost half do not have a proactive strategy and only one-third say they regularly measure employer brand in a quantifiable way.” Employment Branding has simply grown so fast that many are still learning how to measure, assess and optimize their efforts.

Fortunately, some standards are beginning to emerge—and as they do, we get a glimpse of the real value Employment Branding brings to an organization. Employer Brand International asked recruiters, “What metrics does your company use to measure ROI of your employer brand strategy?” Top answers included:

  • Employee engagement
  • Retention rate
  • Quality of hire
  • Cost per hire
  • Ranking in best employer awards
  • Employee referral rate
  • Candidate conversion ratio
  • Profit per employee

The study also asked, “What are the main benefits you have gained from your employer brand program?” Top answers here included:

  • Ease in attracting candidates
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Recognition as an employer of choice
  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Decreased staff turnover
  • Decreased time-to-fill
  • Increased customer and investor engagement

We can learn three things by comparing these lists. First, to determine the best metrics for a new program, think about the benefits you expect to get from it. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to get caught up in “what can we measure?” instead of “what do we need to know?”

Second, some of the best metrics for Employment Branding programs are things you probably measure already—employee engagement, turnover, profit per employee and so on.

This leads to the third point. While some key Employment Branding metrics are HR-specific, many deal with broader, more fundamental business performance. This reminds us that Employment Branding is a strategic initiative—it transcends hiring efficiency and impacts the business as a whole. We engage in Employment Branding to build a strong organization, not just a strong employment brand.

Like other strategic initiatives, successful Employment Branding requires taking the long view. Many Employment Branding tactics, especially those involving social media, offer quick, precise opportunities to “take the temperature” of the program. That’s great. But remember that these short-term measures don’t really evaluate your employment brand; they compare the efficiency of individual tactics against one another.

You can, however, use this data to start making linkages to long-term performance—and, ultimately, to understand how well your employment brand helps attract and retain top talent for your company. The most common term for this kind of measurement is Quality of Hire. Individual organizations use different formulas for Quality of Hire, but you should include elements of the following:

  • Based on your review process, how well do your new hires perform?
  • How satisfied are your hiring managers with their new employees?
  • What is your turnover rate?

Again, think long-term. Plan to track all new hires over a period of at least one to two years, depending on average turnover in your industry.

Finally, note that employee engagement is one of the top items mentioned in both lists of survey responses above. And yet, most companies do not use this methodology to measure their hiring processes. In the 2012 LinkedIn survey, only 37% of recruiters said they regularly survey new hires—and only 32% regularly survey candidates. This is probably the greatest missed opportunity in measuring Employment Branding today, and the odds are that you’re among those who are missing it.

Remember, Employment Branding is worthy of your patience. Start now by linking your efforts to long-term goals—both in HR and beyond—and gather the data that will create linkages later on. Set up your process for gauging Quality of Hire over time. And last, but not least, start using what you have learned from your employee engagement process to take the pulse of your candidates and new hires. Stick with it over time and you will cultivate reliable numbers for your growing Employment Branding program. More to the point, you may really like the numbers you see.