Building Strong Employer Brand via Electronics Word-of- Mouth in the 'New Normal'.
|Dev, Poonam Pratap
Organizations are competing to position themselves as best employers with extraordinary and unique benefits and value propositions to encourage both potential and existing employees to join and continue in the organization (Gaddam, 2008). To advance this goal, organizations are trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors as an attractive employer (Johnson, 2000; Bakanauskiene et al., 2011). Berthon et. al (2005) contends that attracting and holding onto talented candidates has become as important as attracting customers for a firm. Thus, it may be contended that organizations must create a unique brand for themselves to be attractive for employees. This branding for attracting and retaining employees is called employer branding (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented global health and economic disruptions. Employees and the organizations alike were struggling to adopt to the 'new normal' (Alter & Villa, 2020; Mull, 2020; Soloman, 2020). In terms of time, COVID-19 has been considered as one of the prolonged crises in employment history and it has dramatically put the organization's status at stake. The present scenario spurred by necessary interventions to avoid its spreading has remarkably affected various areas of working life. What makes this an area ripe for study is the contention by authors such as Bianchi (2020) who argue that there are more assumptions than evidence in terms of understanding how the pandemic is influencing employees (potential and current) preferences. Studies in this area are required to substitute assumptions by evidence.
Studies show that organizational support is a key attribute to maintain employer brand image during COVID-19 (Lee et al, 2020). Employees seek compassion, consideration, and empathy from their employers to cope with the situation (Amnba et al.,2021). Benefits and resources for employees colored by employee sensitivity will strengthen the employer brand in the eyes of the present employees. Resources in the form of various benefits emotional, psychological, social, economic are now listed as the top priorities for consideration by employees. Additionally, facilities towards enhancing support are considered as a vital strategy towards employee well-being (Caligiuri et al., 2020).
Khalil et al. (2020) also explained that by making a few fundamental changes in the system in the form of social, technical and economic support can capture the attention of the individuals. Social support in the form of sharing work, responsibility, and information related to organization. Technical support by proving training, capability building, and economic support act as prime factors for building a strong employer brand image. It may be assumed that the need for upgrading, reskilling and increasing support has been growing in response to the pandemic (Yawson, 2020) and it may be safely assumed that this momentum would continue resulting in building employer brand image.
COVID-19 pandemic has put every organization's employer brand to test. Potential and current employees are looking for employer brands that have demonstrated compassion and empathy during these times. Berthon et al. (2005) expounded that, in employer branding process the firm sells its exclusive employment experience to its employees. It is in this context that electronics wordof-mouth (eWOM) plays an important role.
As a result of 'Great Resignation' the organizations need to constantly upgrade and enhance employer brand as a prime part of recruitment approach (Nelke, 2021). We are in an era where we can find reviews and comments about an organization with just a 'click of mouse' (Godes & Mayzlin, 2004). Helle, Sophie & Chirsta (2011) suggested that through communicating the employer brand by showcasing the real work environment provided by the firm right candidates would be attracted towards the organization. Present employees are said to be the best recruiters for the firms as they have lived the brand and can share great stories as well as can embody the firm's unique values, cultures, vision and benefits to the outside world by spreading positive eWOM. Thus, they become the firm's ambassador who have the power to attract and retain talent.
In this context, the main purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of employer brand by exploring the benefits offered by the employers to attract and retain them using eWOM as a tool for achieving competitive advantage. The paper begins by presenting relevant conceptual base from marketing background which is considered an important approach to understand employer brand and its effect. The paper then tries to develop the elements of benefits that forms employee's work experience in the employment setting. Drawing from Ambler and Barrow (1996) explanation on employer brand, this paper tries to explain how benefits help to build a strong employer brand image for a firm.
To explore how different benefits offered to employees form the employees' work experience that shape the employer brand.
To understand how eWOM acts as an influencer to build a strong employer brand.
Employer brand concept as an academic idea has its origin traceable from mid-and late- 1990s (Rosethron, 2010). As a term, it was coined and examined by Ambler and Barrow in 1996. They extended the concept from marketing setting to the employment setting considering the organization as a brand and its employees as customers. Researchers such as Backhaus & Tikoo (2004) and Edward (2010) further expanded the concept as having two different customers: existing employees as internal customers and aspiring and potential employees as prospective customers. Inherent in these arguments and as clarified by Cable & Turban (2001), the assumption is that the prospective employee faces the same decision dilemma as a new consumer faces while making a purchasing decision and current employees face the same dilemma that the existing consumer faces when they have to decide to continue with the brand's product.
Various researchers have explained employer branding according to the nature of research and scope of work. Researchers such as Ambler & Barrow (1996) expounded employer branding as "the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment and identified with the employing company". Additionally, Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) explained it as "the process of building an identifiable and unique employer identity". In similar lines extending the notion of reference to strategy and making it far more intense Sullivan (2004) expounded it as a long-term strategy. Further employer branding was described by Rosethorn (2010) as...
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