The human resource is a key resource available to an organisation and as such, recruitment and selection of the right candidates to join the organisation is a key factor in the success of the organisation. All possible strategies should therefore be applied to ensure that the organisation attracts, recruits and retains quality human resource. One strategy that employers can use is effective branding. This research proposal focuses on the perception of employer brand and the extent to which it can be used to enhance the recruitment and selection process. The important factors identified are the identification of “perception of employer brand”, the evaluation of the Impact on prospective employees of the organisation, and the extent to which the “brand” can be used to enhance the recruitment and of the right candidates to join the organisation.
The general objective of the study is to determine the effect that employer branding has on recruitment and selection of employees.
The specific objectives are;
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To establish the perception of Employer Brand among Employees and Potential Recruits.
To determine the effect of employer brand on employees and potential recruits.
To establish the strategies that employers can use to ensure that their brand enhances recruitment and selection.
Armstrong (2008) defines employer branding as the creation of a brand image of the organization for prospective employees. Armstrong (2008) thus suggests that employer branding implies employer’s reputation, image of the organization, employer value proposition and internal marketing. On their part, Barrow and Mosley (2005) view employer branding as the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company. The main role of the employer brand therefore is to provide a coherent framework for management to simplify and focus priorities, increase productivity and improve recruitment, retention and commitment. Barrow and Mosley (2005) list the constituents of the employer brand as; the need for recognition of individual talents and capabilities, work-life balance, remuneration inequalities and inclusive culture.
According to Martin et al., (2005) the employer brand is the image of the company seen through the eyes of its associates and potential hires, and is intimately linked to the “employment experience” of what it is like to work for the said organisations. The employment experience is a combination of tangible factors like remuneration and benefits and intangible factors like company values and culture (Martin et al., 2005). A complementary perspective to employer branding is documented in Pinkess (2008) as an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda. From this perspective, organisations seen to engage in environment degrading activities, or dealing in products that are known to be harmful such as cigarette manufacturers face challenges of ethical concerns from potential recruits.
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Effect of employer brand on employees and potential recruits
In the highly connected Global Village that is today’s marketplace, people join brands and leave managers. Rosethorn and Mensink, 2007 argue that a brand offers a promise, and a customer buys that promise and if satisfied, continues to buy the product and speaks well about it. A good Brand delivers distinctively and consistently on this promise and the same would extend to Employer Brand; in this case the “customer” is the Employee or Potential Recruit (Rosethorn and Mensink, 2007). The customers of Employer Brand will therefore buy the promise as portrayed by the Employer Brand and choose to work for the Employer, and if satisfied continue to buy more by choosing to remain with the organisation, and speak well about the Employer Brand.
Strategies to ensure employer brand enhances recruitment and selection of employees
The future of Human Resources lies in increased awareness of Employer Brand as the War for Talent intensifies. The advent of the Web and easy access to considerable amount of information at, literally speaking our fingertips, has fundamentally changed how people seek insights and answers of where to work. This according to Saratin and Schumann (2006) defines how an organisation communicates to its current and future talent, the experience it offers as a workplace.
The differentiator for many an organisation is not the mode of communication it chooses to depict itself, but the actual experience it conveys to Employees and Potential Recruits, and this reinforces that Employer Brand should be firmly rooted at the centre of the recruitment and selection process. Martin et al. (2005) expound that to attract the best talent, the organisation needs to ask itself, “What is the compelling and novel story that we can tell people about working here? How do we tell the story to potential and existing employees in a way that convinces them of the reality of what we have to offer?” (Martin et al., 2005).
In identifying Strategies to ensure Employer Brand enhances Recruitment and Selection, Pinkess (2008) contends that there are four major steps or approaches undertaken to enhance the Employees’ and Potential Recruits view of the organisation’s Employer Brand. The first step, which is largely non-existent now, is the “Do Nothing” stage; in this case the organisations do nothing or the bare minimum in terms of CSR and Employer Brand Enhancement. The next stage “Don’t feel bad”, in this the organisation is self-critical about its CSR, and has taken steps to address the concerns. This is followed by “Feel Good” stage, where CSR is sufficiently ingrained in an organisation resulting in pride and positive orientation of prospective recruits. At the peak of Employer Brand enhancement is the “It’s what we do” stage, where the CSR agenda is fully integrated in the business model and employees accept it as part and parcel of their daily lives.
The Research Objectives make it unpractical to categorically select either Qualitative or Quantitative method and as such, a hybrid approach will be adopted. This approach is explained by Saunders et al (2009) as Pragmatism – “that mixed methods, both qualitative and quantitative, are possible, and highly appropriate within one study” (Saunders et al, 2009). Again given the nature of the Research Objectives, the research approach is necessarily hybrid, combining deductive and inductive approaches as is elaborated further in this section.
Data will be collected by use of a questionnaire, where the first objective will be addressed by use of open ended questions. The second objective will make use of a likert scale and the third objective by a combination of open ended followed by scaled questions. This strategy of designing the questionnaire is based on the purpose of research as outlined by Saunders et al., (2009); that is largely explanatory, as opposed to exploratory. The Literature review has outlined the major factors in Employer Brand perception, this adds to the weight of choosing questionnaires as the preferred method of data collection.
The population of the Study comprises of Employees and Potential Recruits. Given that the identification of those potential recruits who chose not to engage with the organisation as a result of their perception of the Employer Brand Communicated is not practically possible, the target population will be the Employees and Potential Recruits who have chosen to engage.
The Data Collection Exercise is expected to be carried out by administering the Research Questionnaire to a random sample of Employees who have been recruited in the last twenty four months. The sample will be representative of Employees and Potential Recruits, by using Stratified Sampling of various Departments and Physical Locations.
The time frame of twenty four months is selected to enable the Research address the extent of influence of Employer Brand on these recruits, in addition to considering the memory of the said recruits fading over time, and other factors clouding the recruits’ judgement having worked in the organisation for longer. A shorter time frame may not provide a sufficient sized sample to make the Research Meaningful.
Objective 1: To establish the perception of Employer Brand among Employees and Potential Recruits.
This Objective requires an Inductive approach to qualitative analysis, as expounded by Saunders et al., 2009. In this approach the research commences without a clearly conceived theory defining “Employer Brand”. The purpose of the Research objective is to establish the “perception” of Employer Brand. The theory is expected to emerge in the process of data collection and analysis.
The Data thus collected will be analysed using Content Analysis. This process as explained by Adams et al. 2007 includes the identification and counting of Key Words and Phrases which are found in response to the perception of Employer Brand. The frequency of these is then tabulated for analysis.
The data thus collected will be categorised into key emerging themes that define the employees’ perception of Employer Brand. This data will then be pictorially represented in a Histogram or Bar chart to identify the Key factors that identify the Employees Perception of Employer Brand.
The process outlined above will have established the perception of Employer Brand among Employees
Objective 2: To determine the effect of employer brand on employees and potential recruits.
This Objective is addressed by means of scaled questions used to ascertain the impact of Employer Brand on Employees and Potential Recruits.
The data collected is classified as Categorical Ranked (Ordinal) Data as described in Saunders et al. 2009. Since the relative position of each case is known, but the gap between consecutive ranks cannot be numerically precise.
The Data collected will be pictorially presented in the form of Pie Charts to depict the distribution of each rank for easier visual representation.
The Data collected under this Objective being non-numerical, would not be suited to the determination of the mean value, however the mode, median and percentiles would prove useful in summarising this type of data as proffered by Tharenou et al. 2007.
The Data thus collected would then be tested for association between the Independent Variable (Employer Brand) and the Dependent Variable (Impact on Recruitment and Selection) by subjecting the values to a chi-square test. This test calculates the probability that the data could occur by chance alone (Saunders et al. 2009). Should the data collected, as expected, have a very low probability of occurring by chance, it would now be appropriate to test for Correlation.
Correlation coefficients range from +1 denoting a perfect positive correlation to -1 denoting a perfect negative correlation. A coefficient of ZERO would denote absolute independence. (Saunders et al. 2009) However, in real life these values are seldom obtained. Values reflecting weak or strong, positive or negative correlations are obtained and the appropriate conclusion drawn therefrom.
Given that the data collected under this section is Categorical Ranked (Ordinal) the appropriate test for correlation is the Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient (Spearman’s rho) would be applied to determine the correlation coefficient.
The results of this test will have addressed the Objective of determining the extent of Impact of Employer Brand on Employees and potential Recruits.
Objective 3: To establish the strategies that employers can use to ensure that their brand enhances recruitment and selection.
This objective can be assessed only if the results of the Correlation testing of Objective 2 yields a reasonably strong Positive Coefficient. In the unlikely case that the analysis of the Data collected under Objective 2 yields either a Negative Correlation or Very weak correlation bordering on Independence then this Objective will be rendered redundant. There will remain no value in attempting to identify how (the perception of) Employer Brand may be used to enhance Recruitment and Selection, as the research will have intimated that Employer Brand has no positive Impact on Employees and Potential Recruits.
However, under the Hypothesis that there is a correlation and the extent of this correlation is significant, the Research Questionnaire will be designed with a combination of open ended questions addressing the “How” and scaled questions to address the relative importance of each factor in the Recruitment and Selection process.
The Data thus collected under this Objective will be subjected to Content Analysis for identification of the “How” as explained under Objective 1, and the scaled questions analysed in line with the Categorical Ranked (Nominal) Data Analysis steps outlined under Objective 2.
This process will have addressed the Objective of identifying how (the perception of) Employer Brand may be used to enhance Recruitment and Selection.
As outlined by Saunders et al. 2009, ethical issues will arise across all stages of the Research Project and will affect all parties i.e. The Researcher, the Sponsor, the Gatekeeper and the Participants.
The Sponsor has a right to useful Research, in this case the Sponsor will find use of the Strategies identified as part of Objective 3, that will enable the Organisation ensure the Employer Brand enhances Recruitment and Selection. In the context of this Assignment the Gatekeeper who controls access to the Participants is expected to be an integral part of the Sponsoring Organisation, and the rights are mutually served.
The Researcher should not be subject to undue influence by the Sponsor at the Research formulation and design stages, where the Sponsor may have a predetermined conclusion to the research. The researcher also deserves unhindered access to Participants, without coercion from the Gatekeeper or Sponsor during the Data Collection Exercise. The access to participants as identified in the Research Design should not be restricted nor altered to include “favourable” participants, in order to produce unbiased results. Finally, in the Data Analysis and findings, the Researcher must be shielded from any sort of influence to interpret the perception of Employer Brand, the Effect of Employer Brand on Employees and the Strategies to enhance Recruitment and Selection. The Researcher correspondingly is obliged to analyse the Data and Report the findings without any bias and preference, and objectively present the findings i.e. let the Data collected speak for itself.
Of overwhelming concerns are Ethical issues affecting the Research Participants, key among the issues are Privacy, Voluntary Participation, Consent, Confidentiality, Reactions, Effects and Objectivity. The Participants have a right to Privacy and non- intrusion in their participation. The participation in the Research has to be totally voluntary, with no coercion or influence for the Researcher or the Sponsor, and the option to withdraw from the Research remains at the jurisdiction of the Participant.
The Participants also need to be assured of the anonymity of their participation, as the primary Data Collection Instrument is a Questionnaire. This ensures confidentiality of responses, and protection from any repercussion including but not limited to harm, embarrassment, discomfort or pain, for a response that may be deemed “unsuitable”. Finally, the Participants deserve to be treated with Respect, and with impartiality and objectivity by the Researcher, to ensure no bias or influence is experienced in the responses.
The key limitation expected in this Research proposal is the access to those candidates who are not employed by the Organisation. The assumption is that the population of new employees will be representative of the total population of unselected recruits.
A precautionary note needs to be made that the above assumption is countered by the fact that the Potential Recruits who choose not to engage with the Organisation will necessarily have a different perception of the organisation’s Employer Brand, and this data if captured will in likelihood have a considerable effect on the Final Results.
The Perception of Employer Brand, as observed in the various contributions of HR practitioners and Management Experts, plays an important role in the Recruitment and Selection of talent for an organisation. This Research is expected to produce a thorough and well documented analysis of the Perception of Employer Brand among Employees, the Impact of Employer Brand on Recruitment and Selection and the derivation of Appropriate Strategies to ensure that the Employer Brand enhances Recruitment and Selection.
The Data collected and analysed as explained above will objectively enable the Organisation to draw appropriate and relevant conclusions.