Is Strategic Planning Important to Employment Branding?

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For more than two decades I have been involved in helping companies acquire the talent they need to help them reach their goals and achieve their objectives. I’ve learned that not even the best recruiter can help a company attract and keep the best talent. The reality is that each employer (company, department, etc.) has a personality (culture, employment brand, etc.) that is foundational to its ability to both attract and retain talent. In this article I’d like to address the role of strategic planning in building an employment brand and culture that not only helps attract key talent, but also minimizes costly turnover.

Employment branding is often considered the key to recruiting and retaining key talent, and we’d agree! Having said that, it cannot go unnoticed the importance of strategic planning to helping establish the framework for a healthy, sustainable culture and employment brand for companies and the departments that operate within the organization.

In my experience as a business owner, and as a recruiter who has run thousands of searches for companies of all types and sizes, I’ve learned that the companies with the healthiest cultures, best employment brands, and perpetual success are disciplined in not only their Strategic Planning, but their accountability to the plan. There are many strategic planning methodologies. At Reputable Recruiting, we have adopted the Traction model of strategic planning and execution. Below are a few key elements to effective strategic planning.

1. Identify your Vision, Mission, and Core Values

Core Values are typically different from your Brand Values. These elements are fundamental to communicating your purpose, as well as what you hire and fire for. The biggest problem I see is that companies often promote their core values in word, but fail to live them out. This means that the core values apply to some, but not all (sacred cows, executives, etc.). I like to call this corporate schizophrenia. Integrating actionable and meaningful ways to live out your corporate values is an invaluable part of strategic planning.

2. Identify your Target Customer and Buyer

This is a simple concept, but for years we tried being everything to everyone. Our desire to serve led us down the path of diluting our focus and we found ourselves spread too thin. Additionally, we found ourselves hitched to clients with a “win lose” mindset. This mindset was the underlying cause of an often frustrated and stressed-out team. Those attributes don’t build an attractive employment brand, to say the least! Your strategic plan should map out exactly who your audience is and what product or service you offer that will make their lives easier. Identifying your buyer’s pain points up-front will provide you with the necessary insights to market to your audience in a meaningful manner.

3. Identify your Value Proposition (aka unique selling proposition)

We recently re-branded and our marketing firm helped us analyze a number of competitors, which helped us realize that our reputation was our best differentiator.  That said, we found that our Proven Process and our Core Values were central to creating our reputation.  Our reputation improves our ability to recruit clients as well as employees. We even automated our feedback process for clients and job seekers so we can continually monitor our performance and take corrective action when needed.

4. Identify the most important KPIs for your Scorecard (aka dashboard)

The age-old quote, “what gets measured, gets done” comes into play here. It is the key ingredient for turning your strategic plan into a plan of action. There are countless books on strategic planning, and their importance cannot be ignored. That said, if you have a plan and you do not execute, then what good is the plan?

Of the tens of thousands of interviews I’ve had with job seekers and candidates, one of the most important factors to their job satisfaction is a sense of accomplishment. Metrics and KPIs provide insights to the outcomes you are striving to achieve. You are likely to have department level metrics, as well as corporate level metrics. The Balanced Scorecard approach to KPIs can help you avoid sacrificing the performance in one metric for another. Equal emphasis should be on Customers, Employees, Operations, and Finances. Executing consistently and well with regards to your KPIs will help ensure you are on a winning team, and who doesn’t like to be on a winning team?!? Winning, as you might imagine, is another key to building a successful Employment Brand!

I know, it sounds easy. The truth is, your Strategic Plan is a living document. If you don’t learn how to pivot, you’ll find your continued success to be out of reach. Blockbuster learned this lesson the hard way, as well as countless others. We wish you luck in your journey to planning, execution, and building an attractive employment brand!