A company's reputation and its workplace culture are more important than pay and benefits when it comes to attracting top talent, new research has suggested.
An international survey of more than 500 HR executives by global talent management firm, Bernard Hodes, has found that the quality or reputation of products and services, the corporate culture and the work environment were a business's most important attributes when it came to bringing talent aboard.
Ethical reputation also scored highly. But benefits and compensation were, perhaps surprisingly, bottom of the list.
The research also concluded that four out of 10 employers did not have a formal programme in place to position and promote their employer brand to new recruits and top talent.
Just a quarter of those polled felt their organisation had the tools and capability to measure their employer brand in terms of recruitment and retention.
Even fewer - only one in eight - indicated that the value of their employer brand was calibrated by their overall company performance.
One possible reason for this discrepancy, argued Bernard Hodes, was that employer brand programmes have traditionally been notoriously hard to justify to the bottom-line.
Nevertheless, just over one third of those polled who worked for organisations that did not have an employer brand programme in place said there were plans to formalise existing ad hoc branding efforts.
And two thirds (66 per cent) said they hoped to have a programme in place within the next five years.
The advantages of an building employer brand were also clearly recognised, with 81 per cent saying it made it easier to attract candidates, 79 per cent feeling it made them more of an employer of choice and nearly two thirds (63 per cent) believing it improved retention.
Organisations that fail to recognise the power of the concept are limited in their ability to attract and retain the new generation of talent, the survey warned.
Surprisingly, a quarter of employer brand initiatives were managed outside the HR function, the poll found.
Other departments that took a lead included the Board and marketing, it emerged.
Encouragingly, just over half of those polled said there had to be an internal as well as an external component to their brand as an employer if it was to be maintained and to be successful.
Helen Rosethorn, chief executive of Bernard Hodes, said: "Employees are increasingly asking some tough questions of their employers. These days people think about the implications of aligning their own long-term career reputation with the brand of a particular organisation.
"The brand of an organisation as a good employer plays an essential role in attracting and retaining a new generation of employee talent, and allowing them to align their interests and aspirations with those of the organisation," she added.