Thirty years ago, a company’s reputation was its greatest asset. Becoming a household name for consumers used to be the primary focus of branding. Branding is still crucial, but now an emerging need is for companies to have strong employer branding, as well. It’s not just customers who have their pick of the litter, employees do too. Job openings are incredibly accessible, as are employee reviews of a business. Companies like Google aren’t successful because they own a search engine, they’re successful because of the people at the helm. How do they get the best people? Because Google is known for being an incredible place to work. They know that employer branding is key to obtaining and retaining the best talent. Just like with product branding, leading the pack in employer branding is essential.
What is Employer Branding?
Employer branding might sound like free t-shirts and bumper stickers that promote a brand to garner enthusiasm. HR departments often manage employer branding, or talent acquisition and retention. Typically, they offer superficial perks like free food and paid vacations to entice people to join their team. But the picture is actually much bigger than that, and it spans before and after the hire. Candidates now know a lot about you before they step into an interview, including employee perception of your workplace. Companies like Glassdoor allow current and former employees to post anonymous reviews. Glassdoor studies show that positive employee reviews attract better candidates and ultimately increase your revenue. So, you can’t just pitch what you’ll provide if they’re hired, it starts with being a place they want to work. As the CEO of digital recruiting firm HireClix puts it, employer brand is, “the emotional reaction people have to the idea of working for your company.”
Harvard Business Review sees the problem with current employer branding as a disconnection from the corporate brand. In fact, they recommend dissolving the concept of separate employer branding incentives that are shallow in nature and weaving the talent dimension in with the company’s larger strategic purpose. For example, rather than describing how the job will build the candidate’s skills or provide them with free happy hours, explain how employees will benefit customers and impact the business. To be successful, companies need to build out a framework of talent that shares the same mission and purpose as C-suite managers to best deliver on the brand’s promises.
Does Employer Branding Help With Talent Acquisition?
Without solid employer branding, the best candidates won’t apply for the job. So you can offer all the free perks you want, but no one will show up to receive them. Strong employer branding starts with targeting the right talent, which is done by knowing the audience. A study conducted by Universum found that if you want to hire an engineer, offer opportunities for innovation. For commercial roles, demonstrate a clear path to leadership. Expert assessments by companies like Bryq simplify the process of finding the right person for the job. In a sea of job listings, yours needs to stand out. State what makes you different from other companies- for example, philanthropy, diversity, or collaboration. You want to inspire a desire to commit to your company and get on board with the mission.
Getting the right employee to sign on is only half the battle. In order to retain talent, you have to deliver on your promises as well. Too many companies only focus on the hiring process and struggle with retention down the road. When a company has a reputation for turnover, targeting the right talent only goes so far. If candidates can choose between a company where everyone loves to work or a company with casual Fridays, they’re going to pick the former.
Studies show that 79% of people who quit their job cite lack of appreciation as their reason for leaving, whereas 89% of bosses think employees quit because they want more money. Shockingly, 58% of people say they trust strangers more than their boss. And currently, less than half of the U.S. workforce says they would recommend their employer. The best way to stand out is to make sure you are in that other 50%. Management needs to survey employee satisfaction and take note. Encourage satisfied employees to spread the word. Employee referrals, particularly over social channels, are one of the strongest endorsements your brand can get.
Who Is Responsible for Employer Branding?
Employer branding is often relegated to the HR department, but current trends show the executive team and other departments should be involved. While HR employees carry the bulk of the job, HR managers should meet with CEO’s and department managers to determine the path forward. Strategy, clearly defined goals, and alignment are key for success. This helps the team remain seamless in its mission and attract candidates with longevity. CEO’s should outline the qualities they want in their hires that will forward the brand on both the employer and consumer side.
The marketing team and HR department can collaborate on Shared Media. In an ideal workplace, employees will amplify the brand and distribute opportunities through social media. It’s imperative to provide social media training for employees and set expectations of social sharing, to prevent data breaches or violations of terms of service and privacy settings. But once your employees are up to speed, encourage and recognize employees who share company status updates or leave reviews of your company for future applicants and customers to see. Social media is essential to prospective growth. 9 out of 10 candidates say they would apply for a job with an employer whose brand is actively managed online. And 84% say the company’s reputation is important in their decision. HR can weed out the best talent, but they cannot singlehandedly create the company’s culture- it requires interdepartmental effort.
How Do You Implement Employer Branding?
Employer branding starts with the CEO’s global idea of who they want their brand to be. That mission should be conveyed to all hiring agents, so they choose candidates for the relationship they will have with the company, rather than just their set of skills. When you have a team of people who are engaged, valued, and happy to be there, you’ll develop a positive employer brand.
- Start with outlining your core mission and seek candidates possessing qualities and behaviors that align.
- Validate your team by rewarding their contributions and valuing their opinions.
- Seek feedback on the culture with surveys about the hiring process and satisfaction once hired. Address any issues earnestly.
- Incentivize the right behaviors through things like handbooks, performance reviews, and promotions.
- Partner with a company that will enable you to find the right talent for the job.
Can Employer Branding Grow Your Business?
It makes sense that employer branding would yield increased employee acquisition. But what about customer acquisition? Does an investment in employer branding provide a good yield on return? The answer is yes. First of all, happy employees reduce costly turnover and employee training. When you retain your team, you also save money by avoiding stalled production while looking for someone new. Employer branding spreads the word about your company so you reach a broader audience. With access to better talent, you can build a more profitable team. And companies whose employees advocate for their brand see greater year-over-year revenue.
Attractive employer branding is essential in today’s competitive labor market. HR departments will likely need to increase spending to enhance their branding initiative. It’s important for executives to know the impact of branding and how it impacts far more than talent sourcing. It’s best for decision-makers to work alongside HR to implement an effective strategy. Don’t go it alone in this new climate, or your efforts may deplete resources and still come up short.