Employer branding is a crucial element for companies who are striving to attract top talent, and build out an organization that is competitive, has a strong culture, and runs efficiently. But in order to do this, companies must position themselves in a way that sends the right message to the right prospects.
Employer branding isn't about only putting your best foot forward; it's about understanding your corporate culture, public perception, and how you can best articulate your values, codes of ethics, and brand "personality" in a way that is both honest, and appealing.
When first approaching employer branding, you shouldn't necessarily look at your organization in its entirety. Most often, companies are the sum of all their parts - meaning each department, or internal function, can vary slightly. This is especially important when aligning the personality of your organization with the profiles of the prospects you want to attract for employment.
Analyzing and segmenting your organization ensures that you can identify strengths within different parts of your company, but also where there may be gaps in competencies, or where your internal culture and brand values may need some beefing up. When we are deploying a marketing and sales strategy, we look to segment our audiences based on needs, interests, and desires. When looking to attract talent, we should consider how you do this internally to align with your target groups to find the best fit for the long term.
Strong company culture and widespread cohesion across departments is, of course, beneficial for making employees feel part of a community and clear about priorities, and to avoid chaos within your organization. However, analyzing and segmenting your organization for the purposes of recruitment can also be an opportunity to encourage diversity, move away from homogenous environments, and/or brand each part of your business as one where people actually want to work.
The hallmark of any strong company culture is that of clear leadership. When managers and top executives spearhead branding messages by "walking the walk" and not just "talking the talk," they are able to lead by example, show staff and employees the values to strive for, and ensure that internal branding permeates all aspects of the business.
Considering value proposition and employer branding messages from a top-down perspective can help to understand and articulate what the goals for the business are in terms of staff and internal growth. While leaders are often both the visionaries and the practical organizers of companies, they can develop the values and direction for employees.
A company without strong leadership is like a ship without a captain; you often get steered in the wrong direction. By considering employer branding messaging from the top-down, you may be better able to ensure that staff are fulfilling those messages, are being true evangelists of the brand, and also that they can keep cohesion within the company, especially when new employees are onboarded.
A company is only as good as its employees, and it’s often the staff working day in and day out within your organization who may actually shape the internal culture. While management and leadership can lay down the groundwork and articulate the values the company stands by, you have to rely on your employees to actually make it true.
But your lower level staff can also be the ones with true insight into your company culture and branding as an employer. Do they feel that middle management is truly facilitating an environment for top-down branding to be effective and cohesive? Are they bringing in their own experiences and perspectives to make for a dynamic workplace, or has it become chaotic and lacking direction?
Looking to use bottom-up development of your company value proposition and EB messages can also be effective in finding talent that will work well with your existing teams. They will know what may attract more skilled and dynamic people, but also how to articulate those messages in ways that are truthful and transparent. There is nothing worse than executives pitching an ideal to prospective employees, only for new hires to arrive and feel that they’ve been sold a lie.
At the end of the day, it is your employees who understand how your company may be perceived to the outside world, making modern employer branding likely to be developed from the bottom-up.
One of the best activities you can execute when it comes to employer branding is creating an employee advocacy program. When your employees love working at your organization, they should be encouraged to share their experiences with others.
When it comes to recruiting top talent, highly qualified candidates are much more likely to trust someone like them, or a regular employee and see them as a credible source of information about a company than they would an entrepreneur or CEO. Because of this, you should leverage your employees as being the ones to disseminate important brand messages.
Employee advocacy works especially well for employer branding and recruitment because top talent tends to know and be associated with top talent. If there is an incentive for employees to advocate on behalf of your company, through an employee advocacy program, the likelihood of them feeling positive about your brand and wanting to share their experiences is much higher.
Employee engagement is an important element of creating ideal workplaces, so an employee advocacy program can benefit your organization in multiple ways. By encouraging staff to share their experiences for employer branding, they can actually feel that their opinions and efforts are supported and appreciated. This can create an ongoing cycle of producing positive experiences that are then shared with others, to onboard new staff who add to the positive working culture.
Social media can play a big role in employer branding since this is where your staff and prospects tend to live and interact online. Social media continues to be an important arena when it comes to customer service, and evaluating public sentiment about your brand, and the same can be said for employer branding.
Increasingly prospects are discovering corporate brands through social media, and even are finding their new job positions through networking sites. Because of this, it’s extremely important to be active on social media from an employer branding perspective but to also be aware of what is being said on social media about your brand and perception as an employer.
While LinkedIn is a natural home for companies and has been a recruitment avenue for some time, there are other social platforms that can be important for disseminating messages about your company. Instagram has been a useful platform for showing the “human” side of organizations and can provide an inside look into what the day to day activities are in your organization. Facebook can be an important place for community building, and for employees to share their experiences with outsiders who follow your pages.
As with any type of branding and marketing activity, you should be evaluating and analyzing the success of your employer branding efforts. Without having proper metrics reporting in place, or even knowing how to measure success, you may find that your efforts are either ineffective or are not actually helping your brand in a positive way.
Set up a simple dashboard where you can keep track of sentiment inside and outside of your organization. You could, for example, on a quarterly basis ask your staff to anonymously rate your organization as an employer on a scale of 1 to 10. You want to ensure that your employees would rate you as an organization that they would recommend to others.
This is also where your employee advocacy initiatives can be evaluated. If no one is taking advantage of the system, you may have a problem. The churn rate of your employees is also a good indicator of whether or not you have a good workplace culture. If your employees tend to not stay for very long, you need to evaluate what the underlying issues are that makes them want to leave.
Your value propositions should be aligned with reality. If you have strong employer branding value propositions established, these should be extremely evident. Survey prospects and internal employees to find if they are aware of those values and if they feel they are accurate.
Ask prospects to rate the recruitment process. As a potential employee gets to know your organization and employees better as they go through hiring, their perception of you should improve. Even if they do not get hired or accept a position, they should overall have a positive feeling about the process and what it may be like to work for your company. If the hiring process leaves a bad taste in their mouths, they may be much more likely to dissuade others from applying to your company.
Finding the right agency to develop and execute your employer branding strategies is as crucial as the messages themselves. While it may seem counterintuitive to have an outsider formulate your employer branding, it actually makes more sense - as executives and company leaders want to put their best foot forward, they can sometimes be blind to the realities of what their internal culture is like. By hiring an agency, you can better articulate the values and strengths of your organization.
There are a number of great listing sites that match agencies with potential clients based on needs and areas of expertise. Sortlist is a great database with Swiss agencies, and Clutch also recommends some of the top agencies.
Look for those agencies who deeply understand your industry, and what makes potential employment candidates desire a job. When it comes to today’s most appealing prospects, money is often not the top priority. Increasingly companies are having to focus on building their brands and internal cultures as one that encourages balance and facilitates development. The right agency can help your organization to discover these factors and better present them to the outside world.