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Employer branding: Employer attractiveness and the use of social media

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Abstract

Purpose – The aim of this study is to investigate which factors employers should focus on in their employer branding strategies. The present study tested the employer attractiveness scale (EmpAt) and analysed relationships between dimensions in this measurement scale and the use of social media in relation to corporate reputation and intentions to apply for a job. Design/methodology/approach – Electronic questionnaires were distributed to students at three higher education institutions in Norway. The proposed model is analysed on the basis of 366 responses related to three well-known Norwegian engineering firms. Findings – The results indicate that several employer attributes are positive for corporate reputation, which again is related to attraction of potential employees. Specifically, the results suggest that innovation value, psychological value, application value, and the use of social media positively relate to corporate reputation, which in turn is positively linked to intentions to apply for a job. Psychological value, which is the strongest predictor, is also directly related to intentions to apply for a job. Furthermore, the validation of the EmpAt scale resulted in different dimensions than in the original study. New dimensions and a re-arrangement of indicators are proposed. Originality/value – The research is original in the way it combines employer branding and social media, and this will be of value to employers in their recruitment processes.
Employer branding: employer attractiveness
and the use of social media
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
School of Business and Social Science, Buskerud University College, Kongsberg, Norway
Abstract
Purpose The aim of this study is to investigate which factors employers should focus on in their employer branding strategies. The present study
tested the employer attractiveness scale (EmpAt) and analysed relationships between dimensions in this measurement scale and the use of social
media in relation to corporate reputation and intentions to apply for a job.
Design/methodology/approach Electronic questionnaires were distributed to students at three higher education institutions in Norway. The
proposed model is analysed on the basis of 366 responses related to three well-known Norwegian engineering firms.
Findings The results indicate that several employer attributes are positive for corporate reputation, which again is related to attraction of potential
employees. Specifically, the results suggest that innovation value, psychological value, application value, and the use of social media positively relate to
corporate reputation, which in turn is positively linked to intentions to apply for a job. Psychological value, which is the strongest predictor, is also
directly related to intentions to apply for a job. Furthermore, the validation of the EmpAt scale resulted in different dimensions than in the original study.
New dimensions and a re-arrangement of indicators are proposed.
Originality/value The research is original in the way it combines employer branding and social media, and this will be of value to employers in their
recruitment processes.
Keywords Social media, Human resources, Corporate reputation, Employer attractiveness, Employer branding, Recruiting
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
All organisations strive for sustained competitive advantage in
order to attain economic profit and to survive in an increasingly
global and competitive marketplace. Human resources (HR)
are crucial for competitive advantage, and they often represent
the main investment in knowledge intensive firms. In order to
be a resource for competitive advantage, the selection of
human capital needs to have a high level of competence and
willingness to show productive behaviour (Wright et al., 1994).
If an organisation finds and retains qualified employees and
combine their talents better than the competitors, they can
achieve an advantage (Boxall, 1996).
In large and open competing markets, brand and corporate
reputation are crucial for attracting the best employees
(Cappelli, 2001). There is a constant war over talent in
several industries (Fishman, 1998 in Cable and Turban,
2003). The importance of brand and reputation is well known
in the product market, and has recently become salient as well
in the labour market including the recruitment process.
Employer branding is an emerging field, which may be used
to attract potential employees. Employer branding is
grounded in the resource-based view and human resource
theory, and focuses on developing the image of organisations
as potential employers (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004). Several
different concepts from the field of psychology, such as
reputation, attractiveness, image and brand equity
(e.g. Collins and Stevens, 2002; Berthon et al., 2005), are
used to describe what job seekers emphasise when they
consider applying for a job. Our emphasis related to employer
branding is on attractiveness, corporate reputation and
attracting potential employees. Reputation can be
considered as an intangible and valuable resource in the
resource-based view, which could contribute to the
achievement of sustainable competitive advantage for the
organisation (Barney, 1991, 2002; Dowling, 1994; Hall,
1992; Milgrom and Roberts, 1982; van Riel, 1997, all in
Walsh and Beatty, 2007). In addition, use of social media is
increasingly used in employer branding campaigns and in the
recruiting process. There is a lack of studies focusing on social
media within recruiting (Davison et al., 2011; Madera, 2012;
Walker et al., 2011), and this study investigates the use of
social media in relation to corporate reputation and intentions
to apply for a job. Taken together, this is relevant to combine
with a focus on employer branding that aims at improving
attractiveness of companies.
The main purpose of this paper is to identify potential
employees’ perceptions of employers and their intentions to
apply for a job. We investigate how the dimensions for
employer attractiveness and how the use of social media in the
recruitment process influences corporate reputation and the
intention to apply for a job. The research question we pose is
therefore: How are potential employees’ perceptions of the
dimensions for employer attractiveness and the employers’
use of social media related to corporate reputation and
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1061-0421.htm
Journal of Product & Brand Management
22/7 (2013) 473– 483
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]
[DOI 10.1108/JPBM-09-2013-0393]
Revised paper submitted to the special issue of Journal of Product & Brand
Management Post 8th Global Brand Conference of the Academy of
Marketing’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation Special Interest
Group (Oporto, Portugal)
473
intentions to apply for a job? Findings from this study will
contribute theoretically to the literature on the use of social
media and employer branding in particular, and to the
practical field of HR and recruitment in general. Increased
knowledge of potential employees’ perceptions of the use of
social media will enable organisations to aim their employer
branding and recruitment actions more purposefully.
A further contribution implicit in the study will be to
validate the employer attractiveness (EmpAt) scale in order to
test it in the employer branding field. This scale was
developed in a study by Berthon et al. (2005). To our
knowledge, the EmpAt scale has only been employed in one
study in India (Roy, 2008) and in one study in Sri Lanka
(Arachchige and Robertson, 2011). Roy’s (2008) use of the
EmpAt scale in the Indian study resulted in three more
dimensions than the original model had (Berthon et al.,
2005). Arachchige and Robertson (2011) used the scale to
measure which characteristics students in Sri Lanka valued
most when considering potential employers. They included
seven more indicators, which resulted in eight dimensions in
total. These differing results demonstrate a need for testing
the scale further.
Employer branding and recruiting
Organisations strive to be attractive employers, with the goal
of hiring competent employees. Recruiting is defined as
organisational activities that affect the number and type of
applicants who apply for an open position (Gatewood et al.,
2011). The use of internet facilitates the hiring process, both
for the person seeking employment and for the organisation
(Borstorff et al., 2005; Walker et al., 2011).
Job seekers often consider several organisations when they
are going to apply for a job, and they may use corporate
reputation as a source of information about working
conditions in different organisations (Cable and Turban,
2003). Reputation is defined as a set of characteristics which
are socially constructed for an organisation, based on the
organisation’s previous actions (Weigelt and Camerer, 1988).
Dowling and Moran (2012) presented Charles Fombrun’s
definition, which also included future prospects. In this study,
reputation is defined as an organisation’s set of socially
constructed characteristics, defined by the organisation’s
previous actions and future prospects. In order to contribute
to grooming the reputation and increasing the attractiveness
of the company, employers seek to strengthen the company’s
name as a brand, and this is labelled employer branding.
Organisations have experienced that effective employer
branding leads to certain competitive advantages, and this
makes it easier to attract and retain employees (Backhaus and
Tikoo, 2004). Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) mention two
differences in the use of branding, depending on whether it is
directed at employees or at promoting organisations and
products. First, employer branding is specifically directed
towards employment and characterises the organisation’s
identity as an employer. Second, employer branding is
directed towards both an internal and external audience,
while corporate and product branding is mainly directed
towards an external audience. Foster et al. (2010) highlight
the importance of the relations between corporate branding,
internal branding, and employer branding. The internal
branding process relates to what kind of picture the employer
paints of the organisation, how this is communicated to the
other employees, and how the employees understand it.
Employer branding towards an external audience, in this
context, encompasses how the organisation exposes itself and
how others evaluate the organisation as an employer (Martin
et al., 2005). From the standpoint of internal branding and
employer branding towards an external audience, the
corporate brand could be stronger and more consistent
(Foster et al., 2010).
Employer branding is a growing field, and the concept has
been defined in several ways. Edwards (2010) defines
employer branding as activities where principles from
marketing, especially within branding, are used for HR
initiatives regarding both existing and potential employees.
Backhaus and Tikoo’s (2004, p. 502) definition of the same
concept is “the process of building an identifiable and unique
employer identity, and the employer brand as a concept of the
firm that differentiates it from the competitors”. Ambler and
Barrow (1996, in Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004, p. 502) define
employer branding as “the package of functional, economical,
and psychological benefits, provided by employment, and
identified with the employing company”. In this paper we
have combined these definitions to mould our own
understanding of the concept; we consider employer
branding to be the process of building employer identity
directed at existing and potential employees, in order to
differentiate the firm from its competitors.
The theoretical foundations of employer branding are
manifold, and one of the reasons for this being perhaps that it
is a relatively new concept. When the focus is on recruiting,
employer branding is combined with principles from
marketing, HR, and strategy, including the resource-based
view, external and internal branding, organisational
behaviour, and psychology (e.g. Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004;
Edwards, 2010). In this paper, the focus is on employer
branding in relation to the resource-based view, HR,
recruiting, and, to a certain extent, marketing. Employer
branding is used to increase employer attractiveness and
improve corporate reputation. Employer attractiveness is
defined as the benefits potential employees see in an
employment in a specific organisation (Berthon et al.,
2005). Research indicates that potential employees compare
the organisation’s image with their own needs, personality,
and values (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004). When a potential
employee’s needs, personality, and values fit the organisation’s
image, the organisation becomes attractive for this person
(Schneider, 1987; Cable and Judge, 1996; Judge and Cable,
1997, all in Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004).
Employer attractiveness has been measured using the EmpAt
scale. The scale was developed by Berthon et al. (2005) and
derived from Ambler and Barrow’s (1996) dimensions for
psychological, functional, and economic benefits. This scale
consists of 25 items constituting five dimensions:
1 interest value,
2 social value,
3 economic value,
4 development value, and
5 application value.
Interest value encompasses innovation and interest in the
product or services. Social value refers to the work
environment and relations to other employees. Economic
value relates to economic benefits. Development value points
to the possibility for future job opportunities. Lastly,
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473 483
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application value encompasses the possibility to use what has
been learned earlier and indicates to which extent the
organisation is customer-oriented.
Within recruiting, different types of marketing channels
such as the internet, newspapers, and word of mouth are
used. The world wide web opened for several new
opportunities in both advertising and information sharing,
especially through social network sites. For organisations, this
has changed the way of thinking in trying to attract new
employees. To advertise job vacancies through the internet
has become common, and this allows organisations to find
and evaluate candidates to a lower cost than before (Borstorff
et al., 2005). In addition to attract active job seekers, the
internet has made it possible to identify the passive job seekers
(Cappelli, 2001). Social network sites are defined as:
Web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-
public profile within a bounded system, (2) ar ticulate a list of other users
with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of
connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd and Ellison,
2008, p. 211),
What makes social network sites unique is that they allow the
users to make a public profile and make their social network
visible to others. Communication takes place primarily
between humans who already are a part of their extended
social network (Boyd and Ellison, 2008). This gives the
opportunity to expand the social network, which can help
active job seekers find a job and help employers find both
active and passive job seekers.
There are, however, some limitations to the use of social
media in the recruitment process. One study found that 74
per cent of employers think it is easy to destroy an
organisation’s reputation through social media (Deloitte,
2009 in Davison et al., 2011). There is also some uncertainty
related to social media and the number of qualified applicants
for a position or whether the use of social media also leads to a
higher number of not qualified applicants. Nevertheless, using
social media for recruiting seems to be accepted by the users,
probably because it is quite similar to adver tising job
vacancies on the internet (Davison et al., 2011). The use of
social media for organisations has benefits such as free,
unlimited use and shorter response time with respect to
contact and activities (Furu, 2011).
In the following we will present the hypotheses of the study,
followed by the methodological section.
Hypotheses and research model
When employers are running employer branding campaigns,
they need to know which factors that actually lead to a good
impression of the organisation. On this basis, they can design
the employer branding campaigns with the explicit purpose of
improving the attractiveness of the organisation. In the study
by Berthon et al. (2005), respondents were asked to rate the
overall attractiveness of a well-known firm, in addition to the
indicators in the EmpAt scale. A positive relationship was
found between the five dimensions and overall attractiveness.
We want to take this research further and include the variables
corporate reputation, use of social media, and intentions to
apply for a job in a model with the dimensions of employer
attractiveness. There are several studies that have
demonstrated relations between an organisation’s reputation
and how it attracts applicants (Collins and Han, 2004). In our
study, however, we hypothesise whether the dimensions for
employer attractiveness have a relation with corporate
reputation. This leads to the first hypothesis:
H1. Potential employees’ perception of the five dimensions
of employer attractiveness has a positive relation with
their perception of a good corporate reputation.
If social media are capable of destroying an organisation’s
reputation, they should probably be capable to help building a
good reputation for the organisation as well. Moreover,
through a study of engineering students, Collins and Stevens
(2002) found that the impression of an organisation could be
improved with the help of substantial and easily available
information through job vacancy ads on internet sites. Social
media can also be useful to attract potential employees
(Davison et al., 2011). Because of the evolved use of social
media in recruiting and employer branding campaigns, we
find it important to assess whether this way of using social
media actually does work. We have therefore extended the
model to encompass social media, and investigate whether
social media affect corporate reputation.
H2. Potential employees’ perception of employers’ use of
social media has a positive relation with a good
corporate reputation.
There are several studies that have found a positive relation
between corporate reputation and intentions to apply for a job
(e.g. Edwards, 2010; Belt and Paolillo, 1982; Gatewood et al.,
1993, in Cable and Turban, 2003). Within the field of
psychology, Edwards (2010) finds that when an organization
has a good reputation, the chances that potential employees
apply for a job increase. Collins and Stevens (2002) studied
engineering students and their intentions to apply for a job in
an organisation, and to what degree they were positive to
specific organisations. They found that positive perceptions of
the organisations affected the students’ intentions to apply for
a job in these organisations. Building on this literature we are
testing whether potential employees’ impressions of corporate
reputation and their intention to apply for a job are related.
H3. High corporate reputation has a positive relation with
the potential employees’ intention to apply for a job.
When social media is used by organisations as means of
attracting potential employees it should be seen in relation to
potential job seekers intention to apply for a job (Cappelli,
2001). However, as perceived corporate reputation is assumed
to strongly influence the intention to apply (Collins and Han,
2004); we suggest that the use of social media may impact the
strength of this relationship rather than having an independent
relation to the dependent variable (i.e. intention to apply).
Because the intention to apply for a job appears to be strongly
connected to the quality and perceived reputation of the
employer, the use of social media itself may not have an impact
if the reputation is poor. As such, we expect that social media
has a moderating effect on the relationship between corporate
reputation and intentions to apply for a job. As an example, a
potential employee could see job vacancies for a specific firm in
social media, but not have any intentions to apply for a job
because he or she thinks the firm has bad reputation. This
leads to the fourth hypothesis:
H4. Potential employees’ perception of employers’ use of
social media positively moderates the relationship
between corporate reputation and potential
employees’ intention to apply for a job.
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473 483
475
Based on the reviewed theory and the proposed hypotheses,
the research model is presented in Figure 1.
Method
Procedure and participants
In the present study we asked Norwegian engineering
students through a web-based survey about three well-
known Norwegian engineering firms. Students are suitable for
the present research as they are job seekers in the near future
and, hence, potential employees for the firms in question. The
reason for choosing engineering students in particular, is that
they are sought after among engineering firms and in the work
domain in general, and organisations have to compete to
attract the best talents. Therefore, in this domain, employer
branding is of particular interest. Also, choosing a relatively
homogeneous group of students strengthens the design by
avoiding disturbance from possible third variables and helps
isolating the relationships under study (Bollen, 1989).
The three firms we based the questionnaire on are Statoil
and Aker Solutions, operating within the oil and gas industry,
and Kongsberg, an actor in the defence and maritime
industry. They are all international companies with several
locations around the world. Statoil, Aker Solutions, and
Kongsberg are rated as the three most ideal employers for
undergraduate engineering students in Norway (Universum,
2013). Technology and innovation are crucial in their
industries, and engineers are their most valuable resource.
This is why employer branding is of high importance to these
firms.
A link to the survey was made available for the relevant
engineering students at three different universities in Norway.
We asked the respondents to state how familiar they were with
these firms, and consequently to answer only the questions
related to the firms they had knowledge about. In total 184
engineering students, 133 male and 51 female, answered the
survey. Of the respondents, 4 per cent were less than 20 years
old, 90 per cent were between 21 and 30, and 6 per cent were
more than 31 years old. There were 45 per cent with no work
experience, 39 per cent had less than two years of work
experience, and 16 per cent had more than two years of work
experience.
Because of closely related means and standard deviation
between the results from the three organisations, we have
included the results from all three as one sample. In total we
have 366 answers. As the respondents had the possibility to
answer the question for more than one organisation, some of
the respondents have done so.
The scales used in this paper have been translated from
English into Norwegian for this survey. The translation has
been checked for spelling and content by peers.
Measures
Employer attractiveness
Employer attractiveness was measured using the 25 indicators
in the employer attractiveness (EmpAt) Scale developed by
Berthon et al. (2005). The five dimensions – interest value
(e.g. “The organisation produces innovative products and
services”), development value (e.g. “Feeling good about
yourself as a result of working for a particular organisation”),
social value (e.g. “Having a good relation with your
colleagues”), economic value (e.g. “An attractive overall
compensation package”), and application value (e.g. “A
customer oriented firm”) were measured using a seven-point
Likert scale ranging from 1 (to a very little extent) to 7 (to a
very great extent).
Figure 1 Research model
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473 483
476
Corporate reputation
Corporate reputation was measured using a scale developed
by Turban et al. (1998). The scale consists of four indicators,
e.g. “I have heard a lot of good things about this firm”. The
items were measured using a five-point Likert scale ranging
from 1 (not at all accurate) to 5 (very accurate).
Intentions to apply for a job
Intention to apply for a job was measured using Highhouse
et al.s (2003) scale for intention to apply for a job, e.g. “I
would accept a job offer from this company”. Five items were
measured using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not
at all accurate) to 5 (very accurate).
Social media
Social media was measured using a scale developed by Collins
and Stevens (2002). As the scale originally was meant for use
in the general marketing of organisations and job vacancies,
we modified it to adapt it to the use of social media in
employer branding. A sample item is “I have seen advertising
for jobs at this organisation in social media”. Four indicators
were measured using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1
(not at all accurate) to 5 (very accurate).
Control variables
Some control variables were also included. These are gender,
age, place of residence, academic results, and work experience.
Results
The proposed model was tested by means of structural
equation modelling in LISREL 8.80, which enables a
simultaneous test of models with multiple dependent
variables by statistically controlling for relations between
these variables. The analyses were conducted on a covariance
matrix and with the maximum likelihood method of
estimation. The overall fit of the models was evaluated
using the Chi-Square test (
x
2
), its degrees of freedom (df) and
p-value, as well as on the basis of root mean square
approximation (RMSEA), comparative fit index (CFI),
normed fit index (NFI), non-normed fit index (NNFI), and
adjusted goodness of fit index (AGIF). The
x
2
statistic should
be insignificant with a p-value above 0.05 and the ratio of
x
2
to degrees of freedom smaller than 3:1 (Gefen et al., 2000). A
good fit for RMSEA should be close to 0.06 (Hu and Bentler,
1999) or have an upper limit of 0.07 (Steiger, 2007). CFI,
NFI, and NNFI should have a value of 0.95 or above, while
AGIF should be above 0.80 (Hu and Bentler, 1999).
Preliminary analyses
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to
evaluate the fit of the EmpAt scale. Even though the factor
loadings on the CFA were adequate for most items, results
from the CFA yielded bad model fit:
x
2
(230,
N¼366Þ¼1496:37, p,0:001, CFI ¼0:94, NFI ¼0:93,
NNFI ¼0:94, AGIF ¼0:70, and RMSEA ¼0:113. The
problems seem to stem from possible cross loadings for
several of the items. For example, “Acceptance and
belonging” (item 25) might relate to social value or to the
psychological aspect of the job. In addition, some dimensions
included items that can be seen as two separate dimensions.
For example, economic value includes items about salary as
well as job security and promotional opportunities. These
indicators might tap different dimensions of employer
attractiveness. Similar examples can be made for several of
the indicators and the related dimensions.
Because of these problems, an exploratory factor analysis
(EFA) specified with five factors was conducted to see how the
items would distribute among the five dimensions. The
Appendix (Table AI) with the values for the EFA indicates
low loadings for many of the items with weak and similar
loadings on several of the factors. This indicates that the items
related to each dimensions is not distinct from other
dimensions in the scale. By way of adjusting the modification
indices by removing items with loadings much below 0.6, cross
loadings, and based on a theoretical rational, adequate model
fit was finally obtained in a second CFA:
x
2
(80,
N¼366Þ¼262:22, p,0:001, CFI ¼0:97, NFI ¼0:96,
NNFI ¼0:96, AGIF ¼0:87, and RMSEA ¼0:079.
The modifications of the EmpAt scale resulted in
elimination of ten indicators. Only indicators clearly related
to its underlying dimension were kept. In addition, the
dimensions were somewhat altered to fit the items
representing each dimension based on our findings. To be
specific, we ended up with five dimensions innovation value
(three items), psychological value (two items), social value
(four items), economic value (two items), and application
value (four items) (see the Appendix, Table AII). As such, we
ended up with the same number of dimensions as in the
original scale by Berthon et al. (2005), but the two first
dimensions have different names due to the change in item
composition. These dimensions are the ones included in the
main analysis of the structural model below. Convergent
validity, discriminant validity, and composite reliability for
these dimensions are reported in Table I and prove
satisfactory with values above 0.5 and 0.7 for validity and
reliability, respectively (Bagozzi and Yi, 1988; Fornell and
Larcker, 1981; Nunnally, 1978).
Furthermore, CFA was extended to examine the factor
structure of all the five measurement scales used in the
present study. After removing weak items on the scales in
question based on both theoretical and statistical evaluations,
results yielded satisfactory fit indices for the measurement
models combined:
x
2
(202, N¼366Þ¼517:78, p,0:001,
CFI ¼0:97, NFI ¼0:96, NNFI ¼0:97, AGIF ¼0:85 and
RMSEA ¼0:065. Means (M), standard deviations (SD),
factor loadings, and t-values for the final items are presented
in The Appendix (Table AII), while composite reliability
(CR), Cronbach’s alpha (
a
), and average variance extracted
(AVE) for the latent variables according to results from the
CFA are presented in Table I, along with the squared
correlations between these constructs. According to these
tables the reliability estimates are all over the threshold value
of 0.7 recommended by Nunnally (1978) indicating adequate
reliability. Moreover, AVE’s are all above 0.5 and the squared
correlations indicating convergent validity and discriminant
validity, respectively (Fornell and Larcker, 1981).
Main analysis
The results of the structural equation modelling yielded
adequate fit for the model:
x
2
(224, N¼366Þ¼594:77,
p,0:001, CFI ¼0:97, NFI ¼0:95, NNFI ¼0:96,
AGIF ¼0:84, and RMSEA ¼0:067. However, social value
and economic value did not have a significant relation with
corporate reputation, and the interaction effect between
reputation and use of social media did not have a significant
relation with intentions to apply for a job. These variables
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473–483
477
were, hence, removed from the model. Moreover,
modification indices suggested adding a path from
development value to intentions to apply for a job. As such,
also a direct relation between these variables is evident. The
results of the final model showed in Figure 2 yielded better
model fit than the theoretical model:
x
2
(107,
N¼366Þ¼221:48, p,0:001, CFI ¼0:98, NFI ¼0:97,
NNFI ¼0:98, AGIF ¼0:90, and RMSEA ¼0:054.
As shown in Figure 2, we find a significant positive relation
between innovation value and corporate reputation, between
psychological value and corporate reputation, and between
application value and corporate reputation, which partly
supports the first hypothesis. On the other hand, no relation
was found between the social value dimension or the
economic value dimension and corporate reputation. No
interaction effect was found of social media between
corporate reputation and intentions to apply for a job.
Hence, H4 is not supported in the present study.
Furthermore, the use of social media is positively linked to
corporate reputation, while there is a positive relation between
corporate reputation and intentions of job application,
supporting hypotheses two and three, respectively. In
addition, we find a significant relation between
psychological value and intentions to apply for a job.
To test the indirect effects in the final model, bootstrapped
confidence interval estimates were calculated (Preacher and
Hayes, 2008). Results revealed the indirect effect of innovation
value (
b
¼0:07; CI ¼0:01 20:13), psychological value
(
b
¼0:20; CI ¼0:12 20:28), and application value
(
b
¼0:05; CI ¼0:01 20:07) on intentions to apply for a job.
In sum, psychological value is both directly and indirectly linked
to intentions to apply for a job, making corporate reputation a
mediator in the relationship. The other dimensions of the
EmpAt scale are only indirectly linked to intentions to apply for
a job and these effects are rather small (see Table II).
Discussion
In this study we have investigated relations between the
dimensions in the EmpAt scale, use of social media, corporate
reputation, and intentions to apply for a job in an employer
branding perspective in order to identify important factors
which organisations should focus on in employer branding
campaigns. In addition, the EmpAt scale has been validated in
Norwegian for the purpose of the study. Two out of four
Table I CR, alpha, AVE, and squared correlations for the study variables
Variables M SD CR a12345678
1. Innovation value 5.29 0.99 0.81 0.81 0.59
2. Psychological value 4.60 1.49 0.89 0.88 0.36 0.80
3. Social value 4.93 0.95 0.92 0.92 0.25 0.41 0.73
4. Economic value 5.43 1.03 0.79 0.79 0.09 0.05 0.13 0.65
5. Application value 5.06 0.90 0.83 0.83 0.28 0.28 0.49 0.34 0.55
6. Use of social media 1.89 1.00 0.82 0.80 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.60
7. Corporate reputation 3.82 0.97 0.88 0.88 0.35 0.53 0.29 0.04 0.27 0.03 0.79
8. Application intentions 3.61 1.06 0.85 0.84 0.21 0.59 0.23 0.06 0.17 0.01 0.53 0.65
Figure 2 Results from the structural equation analysis
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473–483
478
hypotheses, H2 and H3, were confirmed, while H1 was partly
confirmed. One of the hypotheses, H4 was not confirmed.
The results will be discussed in the following.
First, the results from the validation of the EmpAt scale
have altered the five dimensions and their related indicators
compared to the dimensions originally contained in the scale.
The reason for the differing results may be cultural differences
between Australia and Norway. The results are also different
compared to the studies by Roy (2008) and Arachchige and
Robertson (2011). Both of these studies resulted in eight
factors, including different indicators. However, in addition to
the 25 indicators from the EmpAt scale, several new
indicators were added in these two studies. This may be
another reason for why our own study arrives at different
results. In addition, the EFA performed in the validation is
context specific in the way that it produces the best fit for the
specific data analysed.
Second, the study contributes to research on employer
branding by identifying attributes of employer attractiveness
that potential employees seem to value in employers.
Specifically, findings show that the attractiveness dimensions
innovation value, psychological value, and application value
have positive relations with corporate reputation. On the other
hand, the dimensions of social value and economic value did
not have a significant relation with corporate reputation.
Accordingly, the more non-materialistic aspects of the work
seem more important to create a positive reputation of the
organisation to potential employees. This may seem
surprising as compensation is often seen as maybe the most
important aspect of the work-contract in order to attract and
retain employees (Cappelli, 1999). The lack of relation for
social value is also controversial as the work climate in social
terms is often thought of as important for employees.
In the study of Berthon et al. (2005), all of the five
dimensions in the EmpAt scale, including social and
economic value, proved important for potential employees’
perception of the organisation. However, according to the
result of the present study, organisations are better off
focusing on the innovation, personal growth, and self-
confidence, as well as a good environment for learning and
application of skills rather than investing in their employer
branding activities. Moreover, these findings add to research
that identifies monetary questions as less important in terms
of attracting and retaining employees (e.g. Challenger, Gray
and Christmas, 1999), and proposes non-monetary factors as
more important for recruiting employees (Hiltrop, 1999).
The lack of importance of the social value dimensions is more
complicated to explain. One possible explanation could be
that it is difficult to evaluate the relationship with colleagues
and managers in an organisation where the respondents do
not work, than it is to evaluate the other dimensions of the
EmpAt scale for specific organisations.
In addition to the relationship with corporate reputation,
psychological value has a direct relation with intentions to
apply for a job. This finding indicates that potential
employees, who believe they are going to feel better about
themselves and feel more self-confident if they work in a
specific organisation, are also more likely to think about
applying for a job in the organisation. This finding adds to the
relevance of the more psychological factors of the work as
important in attracting and retaining employees.
Third, we tested the use of social media as employer
branding campaigns and the use of social media as a recruiting
tool, as called for by Backhaus and Tikoo (2004) and Davison
et al. (2011). The results in the study at hand indicate that use
of social media in employer branding campaigns can be helpful
in building a good reputation. This is important as there is a
clear link between a positive corporate reputation and
intentions to apply for a job. Moreover, as we have identified
important attributes through the test of the dimensions in the
EmpAt, use of social media may be even more effective for
these purposes if the organisation focuses on the attributes that
seems important for potential employees when they consider
employers. As such, the combined results point to social media
as an effective tool for employer branding and recruiting.
However, more research on these relations is needed to get a
clearer picture of such results.
Fourth, we found, not surprisingly, that corporate
reputation has a positive relation with intention to apply for
a job, which adds to earlier findings that suggest that there is a
relation between reputation and job pursuit intension (Belt
and Paolillo, 1982; Gatewood et al., 1993, in Cable and
Turban, 2003; Collins and Han, 2004). On the other hand,
we did not find an interaction effect of the use of social media
and corporate reputation on intentions to apply for a job.
Hence, the use of social media does not strengthen the already
positive relation between corporate reputation and intentions
to apply for a job. However, as the measurement is somewhat
new and it reflects an overall use of social media and not
particularly related to employer branding, future research may
look further into this relationship.
Practical implications
In relation to managers and HR-practitioners the results of
the present study indicate several suggestions. First, the focus
on employer branding campaigns and recruiting should be on
non-monetary factors and avoid focus on, for example,
compensation as a key element for the organisation. In
particular, the study at hand underscores the importance of
psychological values, innovation values, and application
Table II Tests of mediations of the links emerging in Figure 2
Bootstrapping BC
95 % CI
Independent variable (IV) Mediator variable (MV) Dependent variable (DV) Point estimate SE
t
-value Lower Upper
Innovation value Corporate reputation Application intentions 0.07 0.03 2.55 ** 0.0112 0.1288
Psychological value Corporate reputation Application intentions 0.20 0.04 4.80 *** 0.1216 0.2784
Application value Corporate reputation Application intentions 0.05 0.02 2.10 ** 0.0108 0.0892
Social media Corporate reputation Application intentions 0.03 0.02 2.03 ** 20.0092 0.0692
Employer branding
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values for potential employees when they evaluate employers.
This involves innovation opportunities, feeling of confidence
and self-worth, and in general growth, learning, and the
opportunity to use ones skills and knowledge. These factors
are important for building a positive reputation of the firm,
which will enhance intentions to apply for a job among
potential employees. As such, firms that are in need for
employees with specific qualifications, such as engineers, or
just talented people in general, should build their recruitment
strategy based on such evaluations.
In addition, social media may play a key role in the
recruitment process in terms of branding the organisation to
potential employees. In this branding process it will be
important to focus on the same factors as mentioned above.
Limitations and issues for further research
The present research has limitations. Firstly, since the
findings are based on correlational data, conclusions about
the direction of the relationships are unwarranted. We have
presented directions in the models, but that is only for
illustration.
Second, engineering students are chosen as respondents for
this study as they are attractive in the labour market. This
leads to competition between the organisations to get the best
employees, and the focus on employer branding is high in the
industry. This may differ from industry to industry. In
general, there are both positive and negative aspects related to
the use of students as respondents; for instance, it may affect
external validity and decrease the possibility for generalising
(Wells, 1993, in Berthon et al., 2005). In the present study
engineering student were singled out as respondents. This
limits the opportunity to generalise the result of the study. On
the other hand, the homogeneous group contributes to
isolating the relationships. In addition, organisations often
direct their recruitment efforts towards students, since
students are likely to apply for a job in near future. The fact
that earlier studies on the subject, and specifically those
including the EmpAt scale, have used students, simplifies the
comparison of the results.
Third, the fact that the survey is answered using self-reports
by the respondents may be a limitation. However, other
methods are not necessarily superior if construct validity is
examined (Conway and Lance, 2010). Satisfactory
psychometric attributes of the measures used in the present
study are demonstrated in the result section.
Fourth, the results from the validation of the EmpAt scale
resulted in elimination of ten indicators. In terms of the
results from the EFA it is important to underscore that such a
factor analysis produces the best possible fit for the data used
in the present research. As such, this part of the validation is
specific to this dataset and may not be accurate in another
sample. However, based on a theoretical evaluation we feel
that the composition of items are accurate in terms of the
dimensions intended measured.
On the basis of the discussion and of the limitations of the
present study, we propose the following directions for future
research. We suggest developing the employer attractiveness
scale further based on the findings in the present research. It
would be relevant to test the dimensions proposed in the
present research to further validate this composition, as well
as develop the scale by adding more indicators to the
proposed dimensions and testing these dimensions in a model
including relevant employer branding variables. Further
development of the EmpAt scale would build on the present
research in terms of identifying which factors employers
should focus on in employer branding campaigns. A second
suggestion is to develop a scale with more indicators in order
to measure the use of social media in the context of employer
branding and recruiting. This scale could be used to further
investigate how social media influences corporate reputation
and intentions to apply for a job. Finally, a combination of
different methods could be used in further research on the
topic to account for the limitations of the cross-sectional
design in the present study.
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Appendix
Table AI Exploratory factor analysis with five factors for EmpAt
Innovation
value
Development
value Social value
Economic
value
Application
value
Q1. The organisation produces innovative products and services 0.91 20.05 20.12 20.15 0.06
Q2. Innovative employer novel work practices/forward-thinking 0.72 0.10 0.03 0.00 20.05
Q3. The organisation both values and makes use of your creativity 0.34 0.23 0.00 20.14 0.37
Q4. The organisation produces high quality products and services 0.77 20.06 0.11 0.12 20.14
Q5. The organisation has an exciting environment 0.39 0.39 0.09 0.04 0.06
Q6. Feeling more self-confident as a result of working for this
particular organisation 0.07 0.84 0.02 20.01 0.00
Q7. Feeling good about yourself as a result of working for this
particular organisation 0.01 0.89 0.05 20.05 20.04
Q8. Gaining career-enhancing experience 0.33 0.19 0.00 0.28 0.06
Q9. A springboard for future employment 0.14 0.31 20.11 0.29 0.14
Q10. Recognition/appreciation from management 0.11 0.08 0.33 20.03 0.33
Q11. Good relationship with colleagues 20.07 0.02 0.80 0.09 0.07
Q12. The employees have a good relationship with their superiors 0.01 20.08 0.71 20.05 0.29
Q13. Supportive and encouraging colleagues 20.07 0.09 0.85 0.03 0.02
Q14. A fun working environment 0.14 0.27 0.51 20.03 0.02
Q15. Happy work environment 0.13 0.06 0.79 0.02 20.09
Q16. An attractive overall compensation package 0.01 20.13 0.21 0.79 20.07
Table AII Item means, standard deviations, factor loadings, and
t
-values for the final measurement model
Mean
Standard
deviation Loading
t
-value
EmpAt- Innovation
The organisation produces innovative products and services 5.15 1.23 0.78 16.35
Innovative employer novel work practices/forward thinking 5.01 1.16 0.80 16.87
The organisation produces high-quality products and services 5.72 1.11 0.71 14.51
EmpAt – development
Feeling more self-confident as a result of working for this particular organisation 4.65 1.44 0.86 19.78
Feeling good about yourself as a result of working for this particular organisation 4.55 1.71 0.93 22.45
EmpAt – Social
Good relationship with colleagues 4.99 1.00 0.87 20.53
The employees have a good relationship with their superiors 4.74 1.04 0.85 19.84
Supportive and encouraging colleagues 4.88 1.08 0.89 21.23
Happy work environment 5.10 1.11 0.82 18.77
EmpAt – economic
An attractive overall compensation package 5.52 1.11 0.76 13.95
An above average salary 5.35 1.16 0.85 15.49
EmpAt – application
Good promotion opportunities within the organisation 5.19 1.05 0.76 16.32
Hands-on inter-departmental experience 4.97 1.14 0.81 17.71
Opportunity to teach other what you have learned 4.77 1.06 0.73 15.30
Opportunity to apply what was learned at a tertiary institution 5.31 1.18 0.66 13.31
Use of social media
I have seen advertising for jobs at this organisation in social media 1.86 1.31 0.64 12.62
The organisations profile in social media gave me detailed information about their job opportunities 1.81 1.11 0.90 18.57
This organisations profile in social media caught my attention 1.99 1.14 0.76 15.34
Corporate reputation
Company with a good reputation 3.86 1.10 0.89 20.47
I have heard a lot of good things about this firm 3.83 1.10 0.89 20.64
Intentions to apply for a job
I would accept a job offer from this company 3.87 1.21 0.92 21.76
I would make this company one of my first choices as an employer 2.70 1.36 0.77 16.93
I would exert a great deal of effort to work for this company 4.25 1.07 0.72 15.42
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473–483
482
About the authors
Anne-Mette Sivertzen is a Project Controller at FMC
Technologies Norway. She has a Master of Science
degree (2013) in Strategic Management from Buskerud
University College in Norway. Her main research
interests are within human resources, strategy, and
management. Anne-Mette Sivertzen is the corresponding
author and can be contacted at: annemette.sivertzen@
outlook.com
Etty Ragnhild Nilsen is an Associate Professor at Buskerud
University College, Norway. Nilsen received her PhD from
BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo in 2010. Her main
research interests are within strategy, organisational learning,
learning in projects, and regional innovation. She is currently
the project manager of a regional research project on
development and innovation, and participates in a research
program on reforms in the healthcare sector in Norway. She
teaches strategy, organisational behaviour, and knowledge
management, and has worked for many years as an editor in
the private sector.
Anja H. Olafsen is a PhD-student at the Norwegian School
of Economics and is employed as a PhD-scholar at Buskerud
University College. Her main research interests are within
human resources management and work motivation.
Employer branding
Anne-Mette Sivertzen, Etty Ragnhild Nilsen and Anja H. Olafsen
Journal of Product & Brand Management
Volume 22 · Number 7 · 2013 · 473–483
483
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... The second Documents belonging to subject areas other than 'Business, Management, and AccounƟng' were discarded Documents such as conference papers, books, and book chapters were excluded and only arƟcles and reviews were selected highest cited (406 citations) article is by Backhaus and Tikoo (2004), which provides conceptual clarity to researchers and outlines the theoretical foundations of employer branding. Berthon et al. (2005) (323 citations) proposed five dimensions of employer attractiveness which subsequent researchers have used (Saini et al., 2014;Sivertzen et al., 2013), making it a helpful paper in this area. Overall, the top 10 cited articles represent a good mix of three major themes: "employer branding" (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004;Berthon et al., 2005;Edwards, 2010), "internal branding" (Burmann et al., 2009;Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006) and "corporate branding" (Aaker, 2004;Harris and de Chernatony, 2001). ...
... Wilden et al. (2010, p. 56) found that potential employees assess the attractiveness of employers based on their earlier direct work experiences with the employer, where the credibility, consistency and clarity of the employers' brand signals are essential for increasing employer attractiveness. Other significant papers included in this cluster are Elving et al. (2013), Klimkiewicz and Oltra (2017), Moroko and Uncles (2008) and Sivertzen et al. (2013). Klimkiewicz and Oltra (2017) showed that millennial job seekers' attitudes toward CSR play a vital role in understanding how they perceived CSR signals which subsequently influence employer attractiveness. ...
Article
Purpose In the past 25 years, employer and internal branding have grown significantly. Prior reviews tended to focus on either one of these domains. This study aims to map the intellectual structure of research on both employer branding and internal branding, thereby identifying impactful authors and journals, current and evolving themes and avenues for future research. Design/methodology/approach Using VOSviewer and Biblioshiny software packages, a bibliometric analysis of 739 articles was conducted using various methods such as citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, cluster analysis, keyword analysis and three-field plot. The Scopus results were further validated using 297 articles produced by the Web of Science data set. It ensured the robustness of the results and generalizability of the findings across bibliometric data sets. Findings The findings first report the impactful articles, authors and institutions of employer and internal branding research, along with popular keywords used in this area. Next, the analysis reveals four major clusters and seven subthemes (i.e. employer brand and job seekers, employer brand and employees, employer brand and international human resource management (HRM), third-party employer branding, internal branding – conceptualization/review, internal branding – antecedents and consequences, internal brand management). Early research focused more on “corporate brandings,” whereas current research deals more with “employer branding: antecedents and consequences,” “employer branding conceptualization/review,” and “internal branding” and its subthemes. The employer and internal branding clusters have evolved largely independent from each other. This study offers future research directions and practical implications per cluster. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first comprehensive bibliometric analysis of both employer and internal branding research.
... The second Documents belonging to subject areas other than 'Business, Management, and AccounƟng' were discarded Documents such as conference papers, books, and book chapters were excluded and only arƟcles and reviews were selected highest cited (406 citations) article is by Backhaus and Tikoo (2004), which provides conceptual clarity to researchers and outlines the theoretical foundations of employer branding. Berthon et al. (2005) (323 citations) proposed five dimensions of employer attractiveness which subsequent researchers have used (Saini et al., 2014;Sivertzen et al., 2013), making it a helpful paper in this area. Overall, the top 10 cited articles represent a good mix of three major themes: "employer branding" (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004;Berthon et al., 2005;Edwards, 2010), "internal branding" (Burmann et al., 2009;Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006) and "corporate branding" (Aaker, 2004;Harris and de Chernatony, 2001). ...
... Wilden et al. (2010, p. 56) found that potential employees assess the attractiveness of employers based on their earlier direct work experiences with the employer, where the credibility, consistency and clarity of the employers' brand signals are essential for increasing employer attractiveness. Other significant papers included in this cluster are Elving et al. (2013), Klimkiewicz and Oltra (2017), Moroko and Uncles (2008) and Sivertzen et al. (2013). Klimkiewicz and Oltra (2017) showed that millennial job seekers' attitudes toward CSR play a vital role in understanding how they perceived CSR signals which subsequently influence employer attractiveness. ...
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Purpose-In the past 25 years, employer and internal branding have grown significantly. Prior reviews tended to focus on either one of these domains. This study aims to map the intellectual structure of research on both employer branding and internal branding, thereby identifying impactful authors and journals, current and evolving themes and avenues for future research. Design/methodology/approach-Using VOSviewer and Biblioshiny software packages, a bibliometric analysis of 739 articles was conducted using various methods such as citation analysis, bibliographic coupling, cluster analysis, keyword analysis and three-field plot. The Scopus results were further validated using 297 articles produced by the Web of Science data set. It ensured the robustness of the results and generalizability of the findings across bibliometric data sets. Findings-The findings first report the impactful articles, authors and institutions of employer and internal branding research, along with popular keywords used in this area. Next, the analysis reveals four major clusters and seven subthemes (i.e. employer brand and job seekers, employer brand and employees, employer brand and international human resource management (HRM), third-party employer branding, internal branding-conceptualization/review, internal branding-antecedents and consequences, internal brand management). Early research focused more on "corporate brandings," whereas current research deals more with "employer branding: antecedents and consequences," "employer branding conceptualization/review," and "internal branding" and its subthemes. The employer and internal branding clusters have evolved largely independent from each other. This study offers future research directions and practical implications per cluster. Originality/value-To the best of the authors' knowledge, this study is the first comprehensive bibliometric analysis of both employer and internal branding research.
... Hence it is very important to study the concept of EVP from organizational perspectives. A considerable amount of research is available in the literature on employer branding (Chhabra & Sharma, 2014;Priyadarshi, 2011;Saini & Jawahar, 2019;Sivertzen et al., 2013;Tanwar & Kumar, 2019); whereas there is a paucity of literature on the concept of EVP. In other words, employer efforts were focused more, whereas the beneficiaries' or employees' perceptions were ignored. ...
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