How to Win the War on Talent

March 17, 2021

By Carla Keppler, Executive Director, Employee Communications and Engagement

Brands must take an inside-out, people-first approach to attracting and retaining talent, one that focuses as much energy, process and pressure into attracting the right people as they do into catching the attention of customers, investors and other key stakeholders. Doing so starts by recognizing the importance of building a strong cultural ecosystem, which includes those “softer” factors such as purpose and values that connect the internal, employer brand to the external consumer brand.

Five Steps to Success:

Conduct stakeholder research to gauge whether your brand positioning and employee value proposition remain in alignment with who you are as an organization and whether those attributes match the shifting demands of today’s talent market. Compare employee sentiment to the perception of external audiences to get a clear picture of brand performance and areas requiring a revamp.

Attracting and retaining top talent requires external brand positioning, employee value proposition and candidate demands to be in full alignment.

Why now?
Even if you conducted sentiment tracking last year, today’s feedback likely tells a much different story. Companies must treat listening as an always-on exercise. Employee and candidate demands continue to shift at a rapid and unpredictable rate, requiring companies to meet them where they are, not where they used to be.

Use stakeholder feedback to patch up newly uncovered disconnects between the internal and external brand elements and reset positioning accordingly. Test with internal and external audiences – employees, prospects, customers, investors, etc. – until you get it right.

Brand reputations are all-encompassing. Approach all brand activities as such, never internal vs. external.

Why now?
Candidates are placing heavier consideration on company EVPs. Given employers have the tools at their disposal to establish value propositions that match the evolved marketplace, choosing not to invest is negligent to the brand.

text: engage internal audiences

Bring employees along on the journey as things develop. Educate them on the new positioning and the “why” behind it, which they will have helped set. Look to the new brand positioning to drive messaging within internal campaigns and recruitment communications, particularly during the seasonal hiring boom.

Building the employer brand with the people who power your organization drives authenticity.

Why Now?
Employees everywhere are disconnected and disengaged. Remote work means a clunky experience for corporate staff, and frontliners feel undervalued or forgotten. Rebuilding your brand together gives your people something to believe in and rally around.

text: build a barrier-free campaign

The lines between internal and external communication have long been blurred. What your people see, feel and hear inside company walls should align to what they see in the outside world on social, in advertising and more. Bringing your people in, as champions, will create authenticity and consistency at a time when it’s more difficult than ever to break through.

Disconnects will surface between the image a company projects versus the perception of employees, which can put a corporation’s reputation at risk.

Why now?
At a time when companies are getting scrutinized for even the most minor infraction, it’s imperative that your employees feel connected to and in support of your values so they can advocate on your behalf or come to your rescue when needed.

text: stand apart

While culture elements such as mission, vision and values shouldn’t change regularly, it’s essential to keep your brand positioning fresh. As traditional means of recruitment and retention lose their luster in the minds of today’s job seekers, let the data and a splash of creativity guide you toward a new way forward.

You don’t need to change the core of who you are, but rather understand how to evolve and ensure all your key stakeholders appreciate the value that evolution brings to them.

Why now?
With heavy hiring needs and a limited pool of potential employees, we’re living in a candidate’s market. It’s essential to find a way to stand apart, align to the shifting values of the market and get creative to deliver on the relational values today’s employees seek out, particularly among younger generations.


This piece is part of a larger content series called Up At Night co-created by Interpublic Group agencies Golin and FCB to explore the most pressing issues facing marketers today.