The 4 Characteristics of a Strong Employer Brand
The Great Resignation. It’s common knowledge at this point that the U.S. is facing one of the biggest employment upheavals in its history. With nearly every industry feeling the impact, chances are good that some of the (11.3 million) vacancies are yours. But what can you do about it?
If you don’t already have a formal employer brand strategy, now is the time to develop one. And if you do have one, it’s a good time for your team to reassess it with fresh eyes (and current employee/candidate input).
Why is Employer Branding So Important?
Recruiting is like building any other relationship—both parties must be interested in taking the next step and, hopefully, making a long-term commitment. Employers are operating in a highly competitive environment, with many organizations courting the same small pool of high-performance talent.
An employer brand serves as the foundation for that relationship-building, giving a window into the company culture and employee experience and enticing recruits with the thought of what could be. A strong employment brand gets candidates excited to be a part of your organization, even before digging into potential salary and benefits details. It can help attract higher quality talent, bring in more inbound interest, and reduce barriers during the recruiting process.
Your employer brand isn’t just about recruiting. It’s also about retaining your existing workforce. Make them feel proud to be a continued part of what your organization stands for and what it achieves.
What Makes a Strong Employer Brand? The 4 C’s are Key.
#1: A Clear Employer Value Proposition
Similar to a customer value proposition, this statement explains the value of working for your organization. It’s the promise between you and your employees, clearly articulating what they will receive in return for their time and talents. Also, like a customer value proposition, it should be hyper-focused on the specific types of talent you’re trying to attract. You can’t try to be all things to all people and expect to find a good, long-lasting fit.
Your employer value proposition must closely align with your company strategy. It should skew slightly aspirational to give the organization something to strive for but still authentic to your current company culture and working environment. Depending on the makeup of your organization and the diversity of roles within it, you may even want to consider creating multiple employer value propositions. (Though, all should ladder up to an overarching proposition.)
While HR likely has a leading role, development should also involve input from across your company to ensure it accurately captures and reflects the experience of all your employees—across geographies, business units, functions, seniority, and more. Finally, and critically, it must have buy-in from senior leadership.
In addition to the value proposition, you should also outline a shared set of values and expectations for the organization. Doing so helps potential employees understand the part they’re responsible for upholding in the relationship. As a result, candidates know how they will work with colleagues and all parties have a platform for accountability.
#2: A Consistent, Intentional Employee Experience
It’s not enough to write the words—you must also live them. Take a hard look at your processes, systems, and programs to ensure you have the proper structure to act on the promise you’ve made. This spans everything from the knowledge, tools, and resources that help people do their jobs, how people are acknowledged and rewarded, and how you tangibly support values like diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.
If you’re not already doing it, now is an excellent time to begin doing employee engagement surveys. One critical note, though: Make sure you’re ready to act on the feedback you receive. Organizations that solicit feedback but never share results or implement action plans based on the data risk demotivating employees and amplifying any existing negativity.
Create a benchmark with your survey data and track progress over time. Cross-reference surveys with data on turnover rates, hiring velocity, career advancement, etc., to ensure any changes you make are moving the needle on the things that matter.
#3: A Credible Reputation
It’s not enough for you to know you’re a great place to work—the world needs to know it too! The first thing a prospective candidate will do is research your company to get a feel for its reputation. She goes to social media to see what employees, customers, and partners are saying. She looks at hiring managers’ personal LinkedIn profiles to get a sense of who they are, what they value, and how others perceive them. And then she reads review sites like Glassdoor to get an inside scoop on how your organization treats employees, the reality of the employee experience, and even the interview/hiring experience. A 2019 survey showed that 86% of job seekers read company reviews and ratings before applying.
Potential candidates are looking to know:
- Does this organization align with my values and purpose?
- Do they appear to be “walking the talk” regarding their employer value proposition?
- Do I get a sense of shared community—and is it one in which I could see myself? (Every employee is unique and will prioritize these in different ways, but these are the types of questions they’ll likely ask themselves as they assess your reputation.)
Make sure you’ve built a strong presence in external channels:
- Highlight employees who live out the organization’s values on your social properties.
- Encourage employees to be brand advocates, sharing company successes and values, and their own experiences, accomplishments, and milestones. (And remind them to tag your organization).
- Solicit reviews on social media and review sites—and monitor them frequently.
- Respond to comments and address negative feedback to show engagement and an active interest in improvement.
#4: Compelling Recruitment Marketing Campaigns
While reputation is critical, you likely can’t rely solely on word of mouth to get in front of prospective candidates. Using the employee value proposition and supporting pillars you’ve built, it’s time to craft a campaign that energizes job seekers and draws them in for further investigation.
Remember, you want your recruitment marketing creative to reflect the value prop and your organization’s personality and culture. Have fun here! Even the most conservative organizations comprise of complex human beings with hopes, dreams, and personalities that aren’t exclusively defined by their skills or the tasks they perform. Consider using employee-generated content in your campaign, letting employees tell it in their own words.
The where/when/what/how of your recruitment marketing tactics heavily depends on your organization’s objectives, but it should always start with the ‘who.’ Meaning you must have a clear understanding of your target audience and use it as a filter to pressure test campaign ideas and tactics. (“How would they react to this message?”, “Is this where they spend time?”, “Who/what do they turn to for guidance?”
Building an employer brand is a big undertaking, but it is crucial to compete in today’s high-stakes recruiting and retention environment. If you need help getting started, or taking your employer brand to the next level, drop us a line.