Jobs may be getting scarce these days, but it doesn’t mean applicants would jump at every employment offer on the table. Like job seekers doing poorly in an interview, hiring companies can also scare away a candidate.
A study conducted among 1,000 full-time workers in the UAE suggested that organisations that have a reputation for high turnover rates, poor performing bosses and lack of career growth opportunities could turn off a potential top talent.
Also discouraging are companies that have a lower profile in the industry and those that tend to put up with a “dysfunctional” or “poorly performing” team.
According to LinkedIn, 50 per cent of professionals in the UAE would completely rule out a move to a company that is known for being a bad employer, regardless of any pay increase offered.
Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn talent solutions for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) said that workers would normally be discouraged to work for a company that has failed to earn a good reputation because professionals need some kind of an assurance that shifting jobs would boost their career aspirations, not just their bank accounts.
“A change of job and employer is typically a positive experience, with a fair amount of benefit, financial and otherwise, and a sense of optimism about the possibilities. An organisation with a poor employer brand effectively negates the positivity surrounding the move,” Matar told Gulf News.
Annalinde Nickisch, HR consultant at the Thought Factory, said she has encountered a number of job applicants who backed even at the interview stage because they were discouraged by the company's reputation.
"We had many candidates not only rejecting offers, but they actually refused to even attend an interview," Nickisch told Gulf News.
"Companies that have a history of delaying salary payments or organisations that make it a habit to enforce employment bans, can practically forget about attracting the right person," she said.
"This doesn't merely impact the size of the talent pool, but also the quality of recruitment firms that would be willing to approach potential candidates on the company's behalf. Market reputation comes by association and no respectable recruitment firm would like to be connected to a bad employer."
Matar said that concerns over job security and job losses are the “biggest deterrent” to work for a company with a poor employer brand. “Prospective employees are also deterred by a company that has a reputation for badly-performing teams or weak leadership,” he added.
“Showing the importance of maintaining ties with current and past employees, [candidates] would be deterred from accepting a role with a company that is talked about negatively by the people who work there or have worked there. These characteristics contribute to a worker’s decision of either working for a company or looking for another company to join in.”
On the other hand, UAE residents would be encouraged to accept a job offer from a company that is known to offer career growth opportunities, strong job security and a chance to work with a better team. Employers that also have higher industry profile and a reputation for better leadership are also likely to attract more candidates.
For a company that possess at least three of the mentioned attributes of a good employer, almost a third of UAE workers said they would willingly accept a job, even without any pay rise. “This holds true even among passive talent who are not actively looking for a new job but are open to a new role if one comes up,” LinkedIn said.
The results of LinkedIn’s study, which was conducted last year, only highlight the need for companies to invest in their employer brand.
“Organisations need to go beyond their own doorstep to reap all the benefits of an attractive employer brand, and influence groups of people further from home. However, this is likely to be a harder and more expensive process,” LinkedIn said.
LinkedIn said the extra investment is worth it, citing that a company failing to invest in its employer brand could be spending an additional “wage bill” of more than Dh2.2 million per year. The figure is applicable to an employer with 10,000 workers.
LinkedIn used a combination of its research results, some publicly available data about salaries and anecdotal evidence from human resource (HR) professionals about turnover rates, to find out the financial impact of a poor employer brand.
The study also took into account survey feedback indicating that candidates require a minimum 10 per cent salary increase to work for a company with a bad employer reputation and turnover rates in similar organisations that average 15 per cent a year.
“And bear in mind that this is just the impact on the wage bill – it doesn’t account for costs in other areas, such as employee attrition, morale, or having a smaller talent pool to choose from,” LinkedIn noted.
Samir Mardini, head of culture and engagement at Hay Group, said companies can build a better employer brand by offering a "strong employee value proposition."
"And to do that you need to strike a balance between offering what your employees value, such as benefits like education allowance and health insurance, the opportunity to do interested work, training and development and cultural factors including a friendly environment and work-life balance, while still keeping cost under control," Mardini told Gulf News.
Mardini pointed out that employer branding works in the same way as consumer branding. "Customers don't judge a brand purely on the company's advertising. They form an opinion based on their own past experience and the experiences of their friends and families, and prospective employees do the same thing when considering where to, or where not to, pursue a career."
5 things that can turn off a job applicant:
1. Concerns around job losses and job security
2. Few professional development opportunities
3. Working with a dysfunctional or poorly performing team
4. A reputation for poor leadership from senior managers
5. A lower profile in the industry
5 things that attract professionals to a company:
1. More professional development opportunities
2. Increased job security
3. The opportunity to work with a better team
4. Higher industry profile
5. Reputation for better leadership
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