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By Don Kottick

RISMEDIA, Jan. 15, 2008-The real estate industry previously had a tendency towards tardiness when it came to adopting leading-edge business concepts and trends, but those days are now gone. As such, one of the hottest topics traveling through the boardrooms of North America is the concept of ‘Employment Branding.’

According to renowned human resource thought leader Dr. John Sullivan, the definition of Employment Branding is “a targeted, long-term strategy to manage awareness and perceptions of employees, potential employees, and related stakeholders to drive recruitment, retention and productivity management efforts.” In layman terms, as it pertains to real estate, Employment Branding is creating the image of your brokerage as being a great place to work in both your employees’ minds and the community at large.

Even though the use of the actual term is relatively new, the concept has been prevalent within real estate for an even longer period of time. Real estate brokers have always tried to create the image that their offices were the best place to work based on how the firm was managed, where their agents received continual training and were provided the necessary support to be as successful as they dared. Now with new additions to the business lexicon, brokers can clearly articulate that they are conducting efforts towards the development of Employment Branding.

With the current evolving economic conditions, the concept of Employment Branding is now taking on greater significance from both recruitment and the retention perspectives. In light of these economic conditions, brokers need to ensure that they are taking steps to further strengthen their Employment Brand. New York freelance writer, Pamela Babcock, said it best when she said, “Creating a solid employment brand not only can help attract and retain high-value employees, but it also can help repel those who might not be a good fit for the company.”

As a result of the ensuing retirement of many within the Baby Boomer generation and the importance of employment culture to the Generation Y population, it is imperative that real estate brokerages focus serious attention on their Employment Branding strategies.

Some of the components of a successful employment strategy include:

1. Creating and sustaining a culture that continually re-enforces the message that your brokerage is the place to work and that your employees willingly communicate this to the greater public.

2. Ensure the public’s positive perception of your brokerage specifically related to the work environment, the culture, community involvement and the management philosophy are continually communicated and re-enforced.

3. The brokerage’s internal and external image and perceptions are continually monitored, tracked and reviewed to ensure the strategy is staying the course.

4. Many firms, not just in real estate, often fail to realize that it is important for their companies to have a brand identity. Some of the high profile, successful employment Branding organizations include companies such as Google, Southwest Airlines, Goldman Sachs and of course Starbucks, just to name a few.

As a result of creating strong Employment Brands, these companies tend to attract better talent due to their efforts. These companies’ employees tend to proactively communicate their personal stories about their firm’s business practices and the resulting personal positive impact to their sphere of influence. An employee communicating this message is much more powerful that a company disseminating the same information.

Apply this scenario to the real estate industry, where an agent is talking to another competitive agent about how great it is to work at their respective brokerage. The conversation immediately captures the mind share of the competitive agent, who then starts to think about the respective brokerage as a potential destination. Should the competitive agent hear the same message being articulated by other agents; then the impetus to explore the brokerage will increase substantially.

It is one thing to have a great culture and good management practices, but it is also important that the message about the successes is continually communicated to the larger community. Make sure the target audience is aware of these achievements both internally and externally. Make sure the brokerage’s Internet presence speaks clearly and prominently to the culture, the value system, the management style and the work environment. Make sure that there is media exposure in the local community on a regular basis and the message always re-enforces the Employment Brand.

An effective Employment Brand strategy that is successfully implemented will not only attract the best talent; it will allow for the retention of the best talent; which will increase the recruitment pipeline, reduce the number of bad hires and flow right to the bottom line. Monitor the Employment Branding efforts on regular basis and your brokerage will recognize, within 6 months to 1 year, an amazing return on your investment even in light of the current economic conditions.

Don Kottick is Vice President, Products & Services, for AlignMark, Inc.

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