Employer brand is a company’s reputation as an employer and its value proposition, or what it offers to potential employees. It has many parallels to the consumer-facing brand. Positive employer branding helps to attract and retain employees.
What is Employer Branding?
Employer branding refers to the practice of promoting a company's reputation, or Employee Value Proposition, in an effort to acquire and retain a desired target group of employees.
Just like you would do with your customer brand, you need to mind every aspect of the way employees experience your company, from your job ad to the hiring process, onboarding, employee value proposition, and beyond to create a consistently positive brand experience. The best way to improve your EVP - and employee retention - is to create an employer branding strategy.
What Does Employer Value Proposition Mean?
The employer value proposition, or EVP, is what a company uniquely offers to candidates and employees. This helps to differentiate the company from other potential employers. EVP plays an important role in employer branding.
Employer branding can clearly provide some advantages - companies with a good brand reputation get twice as many applications as companies with negative brands, and they spend less money on employees.
So now more than ever, it's important to build a positive employer brand.
But the rules for how you do that have changed considerably. In the 90s, when employer branding started getting attention, it was something that came from the top down.
These days, because of social media and sites like Glassdoor, your staff has a big influence on your brand owing to company reviews by employees - much the same as customers do on a corporate brand.
Why Is Employer Branding Important?
- Positive employer brands get twice as many applications.
- Potential employees may not work for companies with bad reputations.
- A bad reputation forces higher salaries.
- HR managers are already having trouble hiring.
- Candidates research companies on social media.
- On top of that, 70% say they trust what employees say about a company over brand ads, making social media even more powerful.
To help you out, we asked the experts, "What is your #1 piece of advice for companies that want to improve their employer brand?"
Employer Branding Best Practices:
1. Establish employer brand ownership.
In the infographic below, there's disagreement and confusion over who should own employer branding.
CEOs think they've got it under control, human resource leaders say they do, and as we noted, at least some of the ability to shape employer brand has shifted to employees, whether we like it or not.
So appropriately, Alexandra Levit and Joshua Freedman talked about the importance of leadership involvement.
So often with employer brand, efforts are coming from all over the place because no one is exactly sure who owns it. The messaging and outputs aren't consistent. So my main piece of advice is to agree on what you want to say from the top down, and don't forget that the employee experience in real life has to mirror what you're communicating via the brand.
So often with #employerbranding... no one is exactly sure who owns it - @alevit
Who should own employer branding in your organization? It's a tough question, and you may get different answers depending on who you talk to. The Harvard Business Review presents a strong argument that, because of the increasing strategic importance of talent acquisition, CEOs need to get more involved in employer branding and recruitment.
They also point out that marketing should get more involved, considering how much of corporate brand is being created on social media (i.e. social media employer branding).
Joshua Freedman goes a little further - defining just how important employee experience should be to leadership.
In our case study on emotional intelligence at FedEx, we shared Fred Smith's model for creating value: People-Service-Profit -- people are first, and if you really believe that, it completely changes the meaning of leadership.
If employee experience is one of your leaders' top 3 priorities, you will need to measure it and evaluate leaders on how employees feel being part of your org. The goal: be the place talented people thrive.
Set "employee experience" as a top priority for your leaders - @eqjosh #employerbranding
2. Know your employees like you know your customers.
These days, being generic is death to branding.
There's just too much noise now. The second someone detects a canned message, whether it's in a Tweet, an emailed job alert, a Facebook post or a job ad, they can turn to a number of different channels for something better. There are no captive audiences.
How do you get out of generic employer brand management mode and make your employer branding relevant?
As Todd Wheatland says below, know your audience, and speak directly to their interests.
To improve your employer brand, understand as much as you can about your target audience. What are their hopes, fears and motivations? How do they act online? Who influences them in their career choices? There's so much bland content out there, largely because companies either don't know enough about who they're trying to attract, or are too concerned about trying to be everything to everyone. Know your audience, and speak to them.
To improve your #employerbrand, understand as much as you can about your target audience - @ToddWheatland
Below, the experts give us big-picture advice on how to understand employees, what they want in a place to work, and what you should do if you insist on keeping your branding generic.
Don't give up because you think it's too difficult. Keep moving the needle by listening when you need to, make changes when it matters, continue to be introspective at all times, and take a keen interest in the people who are interested in your business.
#EmployerBranding advice - take a keen interest in the people who are interested in your business - @CyndyTrivella
My advice would be to stop. Literally stop. Employer branding promised much 20 years ago but it's become a bureaucratic, generic quest of pointlessness. Sorry to be so negative but if I meet one more company with innovation, integrity, respect and excellence I will despair.
#EmployerBranding promised much 20 years ago- it's become a bureaucratic generic quest of pointlessness- @markritson
3. Let employees help create an authentic branding message.
Knowing your employees and speaking directly to their specific interests is one good way to fight generic employer brand management, create a real employer value proposition, and keep Mark from despairing ;)
There is one key group that understands your present and future employees better than anyone else - your employees themselves.
The next three experts we talked to gave some advice related to how your employees should be involved, and the importance of employee engagement with your branding efforts.
Like most things, employment brand is evolving. It's no longer about focusing on the message that the company should craft and share about what it's like to work there. More than ever, it's about sharing the voices and experiences of your employees. To effectively communicate your employment brand, focus on sharing current employee experiences!
To effectively communicate your #employerbrand, focus on sharing employee experiences! - @JenniferMcClure
In my opinion, the key to a successful employer brand is the people behind it. Make the personalities of your staff shine through, have your staff tell their stories, feature case studies of how people’s careers have progressed – and ensure your recruiting team are on hand to interact with candidates across your social media. If yours is a company that people aspire to work for, then that’s powerful. But if yours is a company where people feel they know and like your team already, then you’re well on your way to winning the battle to be their next employer.
The key to a successful #employerbrand is the people behind it. Make staff personalities shine through- @tonyrestell
Showcase the organization's culture, subject matter experts and leaders by enabling regular employees to share stories in their various talent communities both online and offline. These should be aligned to the reality of the actual organization culture. Ordinary employees should opt in, though there can be incentives for them to participate. The starting point should be a great organizational culture, engaged employees and an awesome job seeker experience.
The starting point should be a great culture, engaged #employees and an awesome candidate experience- @GautamGhosh
4. Find the starting point for improving your employer marketing.
Wondering where you should get started on improving your employer brand program and employer value proposition?
We have a couple articles that can help you with social recruiting, recruiting strategies, the hiring process, employee engagement and bringing on new hires. Getting all these right will certainly help keep your employer brand polished.
But Will Staney also has some specific advice that you may want to consider first.
To improve your employer branding efforts I suggest conducting an employer brand audit. This will help you identify what your company is currently doing right (and should keep doing) as well as the areas your company can improve on, with actionable insights to better inform your employer brand strategy. I recently wrote a blog on how do this here.
To improve your #employerbranding efforts @willstaney suggests conducting an employer brand audit
5. Hire diversely to increase brand reach.
With the amount of influence employees now have over your employer brand marketing, it should be no surprise that who your hire says something about your brand, and helps determines who it will reach.
By hiring a job seeker from a community you haven't yet hired from, you're creating a messenger for your brand in that community. Jeff Fermin has more to say on this.
An overlooked aspect of employer branding is diversity in hiring. Hiring unique, out-of-the-box thinkers and displaying their work/talent goes a long way. It can reach out to people in different communities and let them know that what your organization does, goes beyond running a business; it wants to have the best, most unique minds to strive to new heights.
Hiring unique, out-of-the-box thinkers and displaying their work/talent goes a long way - @JeffFermin #employerbrand
6. If you're really out of your depth - call in the experts.
Running a business is time-consuming, so it's good to know that an employer branding agency can help you design a unique employer branding strategy. There are also a variety of employer branding tools to help your business with content creation, candidate experience, employee advocacy, and employer branding statistics.
Take a look at our top 10 best employer branding companies.
10 Best Employer Branding Services:
Employer Branding Companies
Employer Brand International
Powerhouse Talent Inc.
Blue Ivy Group