Employer attractiveness of the Swedish Armed Forces : A quantitative study of gender differences and the effects of employer brand attributes and social media in the government authority sector
The main purpose of this degree project has been to examine the effects of employer brand attributes and activities on social media to the employer attractiveness of the Swedish Armed Forces. We aimed to make theoretical contributions to the fields of employer branding and social media marketing, and test a unique conceptual model for the government authority. The conceptual model focuses on employer brand attributes that have previously been connected to employer attractiveness in this type of context, as well as social media constructs which were not applied to this research area before. We found several research gaps in the previous theories within the two main areas of research. Within the area of employer branding, there was limited research made on government authorities. There were only few studies which considered the effects of social media on employer attractiveness and assessed gender differences across relevant concepts applied in this research field. This lead to the research question:
“What kind of employer brand attributes will increase employer attractiveness of SwAF when using social media for communicating with potential applicants of different genders?”
This degree project was written on commission for the Swedish Armed Forces that conduct recruitment activities primarily for the basic military training (GMU). In this study, we used a quantitative data collection method and distributed a survey to high school students in the ages of 17 to 20 at three different schools in the city of Umeå. The data including 202 responses was analyzed by various tests including Cronbach’s alpha, regression analyses and independent samples t-tests with SPSS, a statistical analysis program. The findings of our study have partly supported the hypothesized effects including the impact of instrumental and symbolic attributes on employer attractiveness. The first part of the conceptual model was therefore partly supported as the instrumental attribute Educational opportunities and the symbolic, Cheerfulness, was proven to have significant effects. One social media construct, Word of mouth, also had a significant effect on employer attractiveness for our full sample. A part of our sample had seen the Swedish Armed Forces on one or more of social network sites, which founded the base for a sub sample where further social media constructs were analyzed. Here, Attitude towards site, Disposition to trust and Site reputation were found to have positive effects on employer attractiveness. Lastly, we compared the means across all constructs and 30 social media activities for gender differences. We found that Social/team activities, Pay and benefits, Sincerity and Employer attractiveness had a significance difference between genders. Of the 30 activities, 12 showed gender differences. In addition to making a theoretical contribution, we provided valuable practical recommendations for both government authorities and the Swedish Armed Forces. Our suggestions regarded what to communicate on their social network sites and how to raise their employer attractiveness for the different genders with their marketing efforts. The attributes associated with a strong employer attractiveness were suggested to be emphasized in external communication, however the messages must stay truthful to what the organization does. Also, the understanding of how the target segment acts on social network sites should be used in marketing strategies, to enhance word of mouth communication and to strengthen marketing efforts focusing on social media.
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