Why your employer brand matters

Dan Snell

As a key method amongst the options for employee engagement, it's no surprise then that Employer Branding is a concept that is receiving more focus. How your company is perceived and presents itself, particularly in the digital landscape, can have an impact on your employees just as much as how the outside world perceives you.

Employer Branding is much more than traditional brand identification, it is all about the message and feel that the company gives employees and potential employees on what it's like to work with them. According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions research, a strong Employer Brand is key to engaging passive candidates and attracting the best talent. LinkedIn go on to say that companies will lose out to competitors in the recruitment marketplace if they don't position themselves as a 'compelling place to work'.

Even well recognized consumer brands can have a negative Employer Brand. Google’s recent employee resignations over the company’s involvement with the Pentagon AI project demonstrates this, with employees disagreeing with the ethics behind the involvement on a military project. Despite the strong consumer brand, the corporate culture and values have impacted on staff retainability.
 

In May 2015, Richard Mosley wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review about the power of Employer Branding. Citing research with HR managers, he says that the reasons Employer Branding is becoming strategically important is, “[T]o help secure recruitment needs, to differentiate the company from competitors and to build a reputation as a preferred local employer.”
 
Employer Branding isn’t a totally new concept and the leaders in the field were initially multinationals like Unilever and Procter and Gamble. However smaller companies have now taken up the baton. Many approach Employer Branding in a similar way to how they develop their consumer brand. The idea is that by matching the brand message to the aspirations and values of the people they are trying to attract and keep, there is more chance of success. In our experience, factors that go to make up the Employer Brand include:

  • Corporate culture and values.
  • Quality of work environment and facilities.
  • Compensation and benefits.
  • Career path.
  • Financial stability.
  • Attitude to learning and development.
  • Levels of ethics and compliance.

adidas Future Talents | Manifesto | #HereToCreate

It’s also evident that a variety of measures are now being used by companies to track changes in their Employer Brand; including visits to website careers pages, engagement on social media, new hire surveys and staff retention numbers.
 
So, what can you do to start developing your Employer Brand and get the message out so that you can recruit even better people? Here are five steps that we have found can yield results:
 
1. Take the time out to develop an Employee Value Proposition.  A straightforward document that outlines what the company offers in terms of compensation and benefits, the company values and intangible advantages together will start building a document that helps you think through areas where the company is unique and ahead of others. Collating the information also provides an opportunity to look at where review or improvement is needed.
 
2. Develop 'talent profiles' for the roles you are looking to bring in new people. As well as stating the qualifications and qualities needed for the role identify the things that would make the role attractive to a potential candidate. For example, for commercial roles the chance to take a professional examination can be an important driver. Use the exercise to think through where the Employee Value Proposition can be improved and what to do about areas where there are gaps.
 
3. Then think about what you are good at. Having reviewed and (possibly) improved your Employer Value Proposition following the previous two steps, answer the question 'what distinguishes our Employee Value Proposition from our competitors?’ The answers will form the basis of the Employer Brand messages that you will want to promote.
 
4. Having identified your areas of strength, start getting the message out. For example, after completing a similar exercise, Adidas found that their top performers were primarily motivated by working creatively with similar sports minded people. They developed a video, 'I'm Here to Create,' which is on their careers page. Look at your own company web site and social media - they are likely to be the best places to get the messages out to build your Employer Brand.
 
5. Finally, make sure you deliver on your Employer Brand promises. One of the keys behind Employer Branding is level of transparency and honest with your employees. Claiming to be one thing, then proving yourself to be another will undermine all your Employer Brand efforts.
 
Developing a strong Employee Brand will help to retain your employees and bring in new talent. Developing an Employee Brand, putting it up on your website and then abandoning the idea will only undermine it. The development of an Employer Brand is an exercise in continuous improvement and one that can be well worth the investment put into it.

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