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Employer Branding: What It Is and Why You Need It

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October 20, 2020Recruiting

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Too often, a company only concentrates on its consumer-facing brand.

However, it's becoming increasingly important to focus on your employer brand, which is how prospective and current employees see your company. To effectively showcase your employer brand, you have to show that applicants are gaining something valuable other than just a job.

If you do it right, you can attract, and more importantly retain, top-tier talent.

This article will go over why employer branding is essential and the powerful lessons you can learn from companies with strong employer brands. We'll also show you the eight ways you can improve your branding strategy.

Why is employer branding so important?

When deciding where to apply for a job, 84% of applicants say an employer's reputation is essential information to have. That’s why it’s crucial to make your employer brand the best it can be.

Information about your company is continuously available, whether you want it to be or not. This knowledge lets prospective employees know whether your company will be a terrific place for them to work or if it should be avoided.

You need to seize the narrative by taking an active role in telling your employer brand story. By having a strong employer brand, you'll be able to lower turnover rates, dramatically increase the number of qualified applicants, and differentiate yourself from a sea of competitors.  

If your company’s brand is particularly strong, it can act as a powerful morale booster for your existing workforce. A compelling employer brand image gives team members a sense of mission and makes them feel good about the work they do.

The dangers of an inferior employee brand

A weak employer brand could prevent you from picking up new customers because prospective clients often look on social media to learn more about a company. And when they do, they might see poor reviews of your business given by ex-employees.  

This is bad news if your customers only want to do business with companies who treat their employees fairly. By not making your employer branding the best it can be, you'll sabotage your hiring efforts. And when your reputation suffers, you'll have to offer a lot more money to attract cream-of-the-crop talent.

Are you making these common hiring mistakes that can lead to bad hires? 

8 ways to improve your employer brand

1. Figure out your employer brand story

You'll be able to attract top-quality recruits if you can compellingly tell your brand story. This gives them a tantalizing taste of what it's like to work for you. When you tell your story, highlight the things that make you unique above all other companies.This is who you are, what you stand for, and why people want to work for you.

2. Know your brand strengths and where you need work

You don’t want to highlight your company’s weaknesses in your employer branding messaging—only your strengths. However, you also need to work on improving the areas where your company falls short. Then, you can showcase these areas in your branding.

Shape the narrative on job sites like Glassdoor by directly addressing complaints instead of hiding from them. That’s because these days, candidates will look at reviews of your company before applying for a job, and the opinions of past and present employees will influence their decision. Responding to online reviews shows that you hold your company responsible for its reputation—whether that's good, bad, or indifferent.

3. Build a powerful value proposition

Your Employer Brand Proposition (EVP) is a list of benefits you offer that is unique and valuable to potential employees. It specifies which candidates you're targeting and why what you provide is better than anything else out there.

An EVP demonstrates that your company is more than just about the bottom line—that it also cares about team members as individuals.

Try to come up with things few other companies offer, such as the ability to take a sabbatical after a set number of years or a unique volunteer program. You could also have individualized bonus systems based on what the employee wants, whether that's stock options, more time off or something else altogether.

4. Include current employees

Don't just communicate with future employees through your brand strategy because your current employees also want to feel connected to your brand.

The stories you tell should speak to them as much as they do to newcomers who are learning about your company for the first time.

5. Enlist your employees as brand advocates

If your company is doing great things, employees are more willing to share their positive experiences online.  So, why not enlist them as brand advocates?

Ask your employees to tap into their creativity to create content for you. For example, they can write an article highlighting their positive work experience, produce a testimonial video, or create entertaining and engaging social media content.Employee stories are often more captivating than typical website recruitment pitches.

 6. Give candidates the chance to grow within the organization

Most employees want their workplace to give them opportunities to learn and to advance. That's why your company should invest heavily in employee development.

If you focus on integrating education into your brand, you'll attract better-qualified candidates. Then, you’ll be able to build a better company.

7. Forget the cool image

Most new recruits could care less about a chic corporate image. They care about more substantive things, like what your company can do to make their work meaningful.

To do that, help your employees cultivate a sense of mission. Then, hire managers who know how to motivate people to do their best. Doing both these things will leave team members with a good feeling, and they’ll be glad they’re working for your company.

8. Tell the company’s story as vividly as possible

Finding and retaining top-tier talent is challenging. That’s why it’s crucial to tell your company’s story as vividly as possible. One way to do this is by shining a light on everything that makes you better than your competitors.

Capture applicants' attention by telling emotionally gripping stories of how you put your beliefs into practice and make a difference in people's lives. Paint a vibrant picture of how you work because candidates are dying to know what the day-to-day experience is like in your company.

Don't forget to slap a human face on your business by talking about the fun things you do, like parties, celebrations, and company get-togethers.

Companies with strong employer brands

Here are some companies that put these principles into action:

Starbucks

Starbucks has always had a sterling reputation as a terrific place to work. CEO Howard Shultz has stated that businesses need to start “linking shareholder value with value for employees.” He believes that by doing this, a company can ensure its long-term longevity.

Three years ago, the company made Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” list. They offer the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, allowing partners to earn a bachelor's degree for free through online courses.

Starbucks does an excellent job communicating their positive work culture on their website and their press materials, making for a strong employer brand. They also energetically promote their brand on social media, including on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.

If a candidate wants to view stories about Starbucks employees talking about the company’s work culture, he can check out the Starbucks YouTube channel.

Google

Google is the world's most desirable workplace, and lots of people want to work for the company because of its legendary reputation for innovation. However, Google also fervently believes that companies that treat employees like owners thrive better than businesses that don’t. They are also heavily committed to lifelong employee learning and growth, which means they care about personal fulfillment. These two things are an essential part of their employer brand.

The company is famous for its stellar training and advancement opportunities, exciting jobs, and stimulating work atmosphere. Its careers website brilliantly showcases its employer branding.

Groupon

To make their employer branding the best it can be, Groupon surveyed its employees to see what they thought about the company. By going through this process, they identified the three main pillars of their employee brand: Empowerment, flexibility and support, mission.

They also learned by surveying employees that their current two-day management training was perceived as being woefully insufficient. Employees wanted continuous learning, rather than getting it all at once. Based on the feedback, they designed a 90-day program with a mix of self-paced and experiential learning.

Groupon found out precisely what qualifications were needed for each of its positions by creating success profiles. For example, it interviewed its salespeople who were making the most money and found out that the key ingredient in a sales success profile was organization. Before it discovered this, it wasn't screening applicants for organizational skills.

Once they started to, they began to hire better-qualified applicants—creating successful experiences for these new recruits.

Using recruiting agencies to introduce your employer brand

Recruiting agencies can introduce candidates to your brand early in the hiring process. This positions your company light years ahead of the competition so that you can hire top-tier candidates.

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