bad employer brand

Bad Employer Brand? Why It Should Be A Top Priority For HR Leaders And How To Fix It

A non-existent or bad employer brand repels top talent from your organization and seriously hampers your recruiting function, but can HR leaders overcome a bad reputation?

We all know how important your employer brand is to recruiting and how much it can help you attract and retain top talent, but how much does it really hurt your organization when you have a bad employer brand or no brand at all?

According to the Harvard Business Review, a company with 10,000 employees could be spending as much as $7.6 million in additional wages to make up for a poor employer brand. That means you can expect to pay 10% more in wages to convince a candidate to take a position with your company if you have a poor or non-existent employer brand. If you don’t have that extra 10% to spend, then you might be making compromises in the candidates you hire.


Sometimes a negative employer brand has nothing to do with HR or recruiting, even though it affects your hiring. Any stain on an organization’s reputation can have ripple effects on recruiting, including customer service missteps, poor company brand decisions, and advertising blunders. One viral video can negatively change the public perception of your organization overnight.

With so many factors out of your control as an HR leader, it’s still possible to make improvements to your employer brand.

What’s the Cause?

Before you can begin to improve your employer brand, you’ve got to figure out if your organization actually deserves a bad reputation. If it’s something within HR, uncovering the root cause is your first stop:

  • Have you made some bad hires?
  • Is your hiring process holding you back?
  • Are your Recruiters and Hiring Managers effective interviewers?
  • Does your onboarding process need improvement?
  • Is your ATS a nightmare for candidates?
  • Are you failing to keep candidates informed during the hiring process?
  • Are your job descriptions failing to rave about the virtues of your brand?
  • Does your career site need work?
  • Are current employees happy and engaged?
  • Do you talk about your company culture in all your recruiting materials?

It might take some time, but it’s worth it to do a complete audit of your employer brand to determine the causes. If the causes originate from the HR side of the house, then you can make corrections to resolve and make a lasting impact on your recruiting.

How Can You Reverse Your Bad Reputation?

Once you’ve corrected the underlying sources of your bad employer branding, it can take time for the tide to turn in your favor. Fortunately, there are some actions you can take to get things moving in the right direction more quickly

1. What employer brand do you want to convey?

Good employer branding begins with strong messaging. What do you want candidates to know about your workplace?

You can start to develop your messaging by making a list of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. As you create your messaging, be sure to highlight the company’s strengths and downplay weaknesses. Be sure to address your company culture, positive employee incentives, growth opportunities, and anything else that makes your organization a desirable place to work, then use your brand messaging in all your recruiting materials.

2. Encourage Employee Reviews

Current employees are your best source for turning your bad employer brand around quickly. Encourage employees to post positive feedback on popular company review websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBliss. Not only will positive reviews help to provide counterpoint to the negative ones, they will provide potential talent with a real-time view of what it’s like to work for your organization.

3. Gather Employee Referrals

If you don’t already have an employer referral program in place, it’s a good time to get one started. Not only is an ERP a great way to get top talent into your pipeline, but it’s also a great way to build a strong employer brand. After all, if current employees are referring others to your organization, it’s likely that they’re spreading a positive word about your company.

4. Use Social Media

Other than on your career site and job descriptions, there’s really no better place to put a beacon on your employer brand than on social media. Creating posts that tell the story of your brand and company culture is a great way to counter a negative brand and show potential candidates what it’s really like to work for your organization. Develop company profile pages, craft great posts, share employee experiences, discuss leadership, and use video to illustrate your employer brand in a way that attracts candidates.

Once created, be sure to maintain your profile pages and interact with people through social media. If you receive a negative comment, be sure to address it. Candidates will be watching how you handle unhappy people too.

5. Work with your marketing department

Marketing and HR need to work together to make sure that your employer brand aligns with marketing and public relations messages. Join forces to make sure that the branding you want to communicate to potential candidates becomes part of the overall company brand. Joining HR and marketing not only bolsters the employer brand, but can also help cement a positive consumer brand.

In addition, the marketing department can help you craft your messages so that they’re sure to resonate with candidates and reach your target audience.


While it isn’t always possible to control or prevent ‘snafus’ with your company brand, there are steps HR leaders can take to ensure that they have a strong employer brand. Failure to build a positive employer reputation can be costly in terms of the talent you attract and with regard to the additional wages required to convince a candidate to take a position with your organization.

A bad employer brand can be overcome with a little time and attention.

Focus on what makes your company a great place to work, put more focus on your messaging, and get the word out whenever possible to reverse a bad employer brand. Help candidates see the value of your workplace.


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