Every organization, whether they actively cultivate it or not, has a brand. Your brand is a promise. A well-managed brand sets clear expectations, evokes positive feelings and attracts people to your organization. But what about your employer brand? When was the last time you thought about what emotions or expectations your brand conjures in the minds of your current and prospective employees?
A 2021 survey published by Glassdoor revealed that 86% of employees and job seekers research organization reviews and ratings prior to deciding on where to apply for a job. The study also revealed that 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a position if the employer actively manages its employer brand.
What is an employer brand?
Many companies spend countless hours and invest significant amounts of money in marketing to their customers, but far fewer allocate time and money to marketing to potential employees. The way your brand is perceived by job seekers starts long before they decide to apply for a position at your organization - it begins from their first search.
Your employer brand is comprised of several different factors including your organizational culture, your current and past employees' opinions of your organization, candidate opinions of their experience with your organization, and of course, your organization's mission and vision. A successful employer branding strategy needs to be built around these pillars. Additionally, your employer brand strategy should be a component of your overall marketing strategy, the two should complement each other, both tying back to your organization's mission, vision and values.
Why does my employer brand matter?
In today's labor market, candidates are more selective than ever before about the companies and positions they apply to. The pandemic, for many job seekers, highlighted the importance of having a good cultural fit with their employer, regardless of the compensation and other benefits. Today's candidate wants to know how you care for your employees, how you put your core values into action, and overall, what your brand really stands for. When they accept a position at your organization, they want to be able to feel good about what they're representing as an employee.
To think of it another way, if a potential applicant asks one of your current employees, "what's it like to work there?" the employee isn't going to rattle off the details of how great your product or service is. They're going to talk about the organization's values and culture, their relationship with their coworkers, how they're managed, and whether or not they get excited about going to work every day. In order for your employer brand to be effective, your employees need to be able to tell that compelling story. It's not just talk, though, it goes beyond the story - simply telling people your organization is a great place to work doesn't cut it - you have to walk the walk.
How do I start thinking about my employer brand?
There are a few questions you should ask yourself and your team as you look to start putting more effort into how your current and potential employees see you.
- Why should someone want to work here?
- Is there a discrepancy in the way our management/ownership team sees our organization versus the way the rest of the employees see it?
- How visible are you to your desired talent pool?
- How can you leverage current employees as part of your employer branding strategy?
These are all questions that will help you start to take stock of the assets you have and the ones you need in order to build an effective employer brand.
Your discovery process for your employer strategy should stem from a clearly defined mission, vision and values. If your organization doesn't have that foundation, not only will the marketing strategy you use to appeal to potential employees fail, but the strategy you use to reach customers will fail as well.
The next step in the process is to conduct research, both internal and external. You need to develop an understanding of how your organization is perceived by your current employees as well as how your candidate experience is perceived by those who are currently going through (or have recently gone through) it. Take some time to work with your management team to identify top talent already in your organization and determine the attributes that they bring to the organization that you want future employees to also possess. Additionally, take a look at your competitors or other similar organizations and how they're approaching employee branding.
Once you have your research collected, developing an employee value proposition that clearly defines the employee experience at your organization and what's special about it. It should answer the question, "why should I want to work here?" And remember, authenticity is key. A message from the CEO talking about why you should want to work for Organization XYZ isn't going to hold a candle to an energetic video featuring current employees answering specific questions that reveal, truthfully, what they love about working there.
Your overall employee marketing strategy should extend to the recruitment function, including job boards, social media, the career page on your website and any other assets you have, but also spill over into the onboarding experience. Think of it as creating employee ambassadors for your organization from the second they join your team. Don't leave your current employees hanging either: even though they were part of the process to create the messaging around why your organization is a great place to work, they need to be recipients of it regularly as well in order to ensure their ability to communicate it to those outside your organization.
With concentrated effort over time, your employer branding will improve and evolve as you bring on new team members and work to build loyalty among your existing team. The bottom line is that if your goal is to attract top talent, keep them engaged, and reduce turnover, enhancing your employer brand is an invaluable step on your path to success.
Amanda Korchirka is an associate consultant specializing in the areas of talent acquisition, culture development, organizational leadership, training design and delivery, marketing/communications, market research, and strategic planning. She brings over ten years of experience from various industries including economic development, entrepreneurship, higher education, nonprofit, and retail. To contact Amanda, email her at AmandaKochirka@DecisionAssociates.net.