Create a ‘Talent Brand’ to Recruit Employees

Operators must market to staff the same way they market to residents.

By Lisa Welshhons

When it comes to attracting top talent, the senior living industry has become a small fish in a big, competitive ocean. Reaching across multiple industries, we are competing from a similar pool of candidates, creating the need to express, articulate and support why an individual would want to work for us.

Just like you know why seniors should choose your community to live in, you must become a sales ambassador for selling your “talent brand.”

A talent brand is your public reputation as an employer (also known as an employee value proposition), similar to the reputation of your community in the marketplace.

In today’s world, the primary residence of a talent brand is on the internet: social media, your careers page, your job ads, and in reviews of your company posted by current and former employees. Every current and former employee, every vendor, every customer and every manager is forever an ambassador of your talent brand, whether the message is positive or negative.

The landscape has changed

The increased focus on talent branding is generally due to the transparency available through technology and social media outlets.

Online reviews, social media presence and the ability for people to talk about your organization in an online forum make it easy for individuals to get a peek into your organization before they work there. And the majority of candidates are doing just that: 62 percent of Millennials visit a company’s social media sites when considering employment.

Additionally, while the senior living industry has made great strides, the old nursing home stigma still exists. Attracting the next generation of the workforce will heavily reply upon improving the perception of the work environment. This alone requires a major focus on brand and image.

Attracting talent has a direct correlation to resident satisfaction, occupancy and ultimately NOI.

Turnover comes with a hefty price tag. The hard costs are more easily transparent. In the world of senior living, the less-obvious impact of turnover on resident care, occupancy and referrals can be significant.

Evidence supports employer branding results in a return on investment. According to LinkedIn’s Ultimate List of Employer Brand Statistics, organizations that have incorporated a brand strategy have seen a 28 percent decrease in employee turnover overall, along with a 50 percent cost per hire reduction.

Getting your talent brand started

First, identify the owner of your talent brand. This should start with leadership and filter throughout the organization.

Historically, a talent brand has been housed within HR/recruiting teams. But to have a living, breathing message consistent with the values of an organization, leaders must talk about it, believe in it and instill it within the culture. Attraction, retention and engagement is and should be a leadership focus and should be aligned with your sales and marketing strategy.

Define your talent brand based on a realistic assessment. Ensure what you identify and communicate as your brand is not contradictory to the reality. For example, if you say you promote work/life balance, make sure everything in your culture from your benefit package to workload supports this. Your talent brand should tie back to your mission, goals and values.

Enhance your online presence by sharing and stating your talent brand on all mediums. Use your website and social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to share and promote:

  • Videos and pictures that show a “day in the life”
  • Employee testimonials
  • Employee stories
  • Company values

Counter negative noise with sound bites of what your current employees say about working for your organization. In addition, educate your employees on your brand. The more connected they are to the brand, the better ambassadors they’ll be.

Testing your talent brand

You likely have made significant investments in branding when it comes to your community. You have a web presence showcasing what it’s like to live in your community, with pictures, testimonials, videos and amenities. Has that same time and attention been given to your career page, or does it look more like your “back of house?”

Studies have shown that over 80 percent of shoppers conduct online research before buying a product. The same has, and is, becoming more and more popular with employment.

Try testing this out. Ask your incoming talent what research they did prior to accepting or interviewing for your opening. You will be amazed at the high percentage of people that go out to sites (Glassdoor is a popular one) to see what former and current employees say about your organization.

What does your Facebook page say about working at your company? Can candidates tell what it looks like to work for you by researching or looking at your website?

Take cues from outside the industry

There is a clear connection between some of the top Fortune 500 companies’ customer and employee satisfaction. Look at Southwest Airlines, for example. It’s evident that the career page on their website has been given as much attention as their customer-facing pages.

Southwest’s core, including purpose, vision and mission, include its commitment to employees displayed proudly. Videos, blogs and a link to Glassdoor are all included.

In research conducted by Indeed, according to employees, Southwest Airlines’ dedication to customer satisfaction carries over to its workplace culture.

“I found the workplace culture to be invigorating and uplifting,” says one employee, adding that the company “defines customer service and values and takes great care of its employees.”

Another employee stresses the connection between leadership and employees, saying that Southwest Airlines “always shows its appreciation for all their employees do.”

Ongoing reinforcement

Full alignment of the talent brand with the company culture is essential to support ongoing employee engagement and retention.

As with your corporate brand, your residents expect their living experience to match what was sold to them. The same holds true with the employees you hire.

An organization’s culture should solidify the talent brand. This requires a thoughtful approach with actionable programs that drive culture, such as employee feedback, talent development and effective communication.

Taking control of your talent brand and driving culture needs to be a priority for the leaders of the organization, not just HR. Learn what’s online, what people are saying and what messages are being sent to current and future candidates by your messaging and actions.

If you don’t manage your talent brand, everyone else will.


Lisa Welshhons is senior vice president of senior living enterprise account management and market development with Aureon, a human resources solutions provider in the seniors housing industry.