What is Employer Branding?
Your brand is the essence of who you are as an organization. It embodies your values, your vision, what sets you apart from the competition, and your approach to business.
We all know that having a defined brand in today’s competitive marketplace is crucial but what many organizations don’t realize is that building a strong employer brand is also critically important.
So what exactly is employer branding? While still very much connected to your overall corporate branding strategy, employer branding specifically communicates who you are as an employer.
Employer branding helps answer the following questions:
- What is your reputation as an employer?
- Why would someone want to work for your organization?
- What opportunities, benefits, and experiences do you offer employees that they can’t find elsewhere?
- Would current employees recommend your company to job seekers?
Why is Employer Branding So Important?
Simply put: your ability to recruit, engage, and retain top talent depends heavily on your employer branding.
Let’s start with recruiting: According to one study, 69% of candidates polled would completely rule out taking a job with a company that had a bad reputation – even if they were unemployed.
Today, talent with the right skillsets and background have more choices and more bargaining power than ever before. As an employer, if you want to compete for this top talent, you need to tell a compelling story. Why should a candidate choose you over another company?
Your ability to engage and retain your current employees is also influenced by strong employer branding. If your organization’s values, mission, and culture resonate with and inspire your internal employees, you will have a more productive workforce and a strong group of brand advocates.
Four Steps to Building a Tremendous Employer Brand
Even if you don’t have a formal strategy in place, you have developed a reputation as an employer. Influencing your image as an employer requires commitment but it doesn’t have to be overly complex. Here are four immediate steps you can take to build, or improve upon, your employer brand:
1. Assess where you are and where you’d like to be
Take a good look at your internal culture, values, and management practices. Do they resonate with your team members? Do you know what the current perceptions of your employer brand are? Survey your existing workforce, ask job seekers about external viewpoints, and perform exit surveys when employees leave. Determine what perceptions and realities exist and decide what changes need to be made.
If you already have a well-defined brand, make sure any employer branding strategy you put into place aligns with your overall corporate brand. You already know what you stand for, just make sure that it applies to your internal audiences as well as your consumer audience. They may seem to be unrelated, but consumer loyalty and employee loyalty are closely tied together.
2. Understand what perks & benefits make you attractive to your audience
The compensation and benefits you offer impact your employer brand. Maybe you can’t offer salaries that beat your competition, but you can provide alternatives that matter and align with your brand.
Understand your workforce and the kind of people you are recruiting. Know what’s important to them. If you’re not connecting with your team and attempting to deliver perks or benefits appeal to them, you are unlikely to drive engagement, build loyalty, and attract the best talent. What are some examples of benefits that can lead to higher employee satisfaction? Gym memberships, flexible work schedules, opportunities for career development, and employee recognition programs are great places to start.
3. Build a strong candidate experience
Aside from a candidate’s previous knowledge of your organization, what they experience during the hiring process creates a lasting impression. Your hiring managers, your online application, how quickly you respond to messages from job seekers – your overall candidate experience – is an extension of your brand. By providing a great candidate experience you communicate that you value your people and this goes a long way when you’re competing for top talent.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Now it’s time to spread your employer brand story far and wide. Determine which communication channels you will use to reach your internal workforce as well as job seekers and then be intentional, transparent, and consistent in your messaging. Remember, information about your employer brand is out there whether you want it to be or not. It’s your job to manage this information. Engage with Glassdoor reviews, manage your Linkedin presence, consider having separate social media accounts to highlight your employees and life within your organization. And remember, communication isn’t a one-way street. Be sure to engage with others on forums and social channels, even if what they are saying is negative. Your company’s willingness to respond to comments, both positive and negative, shows that you are listening and value peoples’ feedback and opinions.
Employer branding is certainly an investment, but it will have a measurable long-term impact on your business growth. Start with the four steps we outlined above and you’ll be well on your way to attracting, engaging, and retaining the very best talent.