Developing a strong employer brand is a powerful strategy to attract the best candidates and retain high quality employees. It’s also an ideal way for any organization to gain an edge in highly competitive sectors where specialized skill sets are in high demand.
So before we get into the steps necessary in developing a strong employer brand, let’s be clear on what we mean by an employer brand.
In a nutshell, an employer brand refers the perceptions that current employees, candidates, stakeholders, and the public have of your organization and what it’s like to work there. Ultimately, your employer brand communicates your organization’s values, personality, mission, and culture. When done right, your employer brand tells people that you are a great employer and your company is a great place to work.
So you know why developing your employer brand is important, now let’s talk about the steps you need to implement in order to put a great brand together.
1. Know Your Organization
Before you can begin to develop your employer brand, you must have a clear understanding of your organization’s vision, mission, values, culture, and employee value proposition. You must be able to define what your company stands for because these attributes should be prevalent at every touch point with employees and potential employees. Here are a few of the most common places you should see your employer branding:
- Company website
- Careers page
- Social media presence
- Recruitment process
- On-boarding process
- Employee training and development
- Employee assessments
Your organization’s values should be front and center from a candidate’s first introduction to your company all the way through to an employee’s exit from the company.
2. What Do Current Employees Think?
It’s a great idea to do an anonymous internal survey of current employees to get and understanding of what they think of your current employer brand. To get the best results, ask open-ended questions like:
- What do you think is the best/worst thing about working at XYZ company?
- What would you tell a friend who wanted to work here about XYZ?
- How is XYZ different than other employers?
- What do we need to improve at XYZ?
The feedback you get from current employees is invaluable in determining what you’re already doing well and where you really need to improve your branding. You can even take it a step further by identifying the top talent currently at your company and determine what attributes they find most important. Then you can work on developing those areas of your employer branding first.
3. Audit Your Company
As important as it is to discover how employees feel about your brand, it’s equally important to find out how your organization is perceived in the marketplace. To start, try taking an objective look at your website and careers page to see if your company is adequately conveying your brand. What would candidates really see when they visit your company online?
Next, take a look at your social media profiles. How will potential employees feel about your organization when they visit you on social media? Are you responsive to inquires and complaints? Is your employee value proposition clear?
Lastly, start researching what’s being said about your company online. Be sure to take a look at review sites like Glassdoor, but also search for comments posted on job boards, forums, and social media.
Remember, your employer brand must reflect what’s special about your organization and it must be carefully aligned with your customer brand.
4. Make a Plan
At this point, you already know where your employer brand is hitting it out of the park and where you need to make some improvements. Now it’s time to create a plan for how you will work on those improvements. Your plan should take a two-pronged approach:
Create a strategy to communicate your employee value proposition to current employees.
This will allow you to get employees more engaged in your organization and will help you retain top employees. The feedback you received from the anonymous surveys we talked about earlier should help you nail down the things your employees find most valuable. Here are some ideas you might want to incorporate:
- Training or coaching opportunities
- Leadership or personal development opportunities
- Contests or bonuses
- Company-wide participation in special events or charity opportunities
Create a strategy that focuses on potential employees.
In this strategy you’ll want to pay special attention to your careers page, social media profiles, your company blurb on job descriptions, external recruiting resources, and your recruiting process itself. Make sure all of these resources show job seekers how great your company is and why they want to work there too.
Keep in mind that your employer brand should align with your overall company brand and should show, not just tell, potential employees why your organization is great. Here are a few ideas:
- Consider appointing brand ambassadors to get involved with your social media pages to bring some real life voices to the conversation
- Find great employee stories to share
- Use employee testimonial videos
- Create day-in-the-life videos
- Include images and video of special events and fun activities
- Test your recruitment process from the candidate’s point of view
5. Track Your Success
Once you’ve got your strategy in place and have started making some improvements in your employer brand, you need to track your results. While your employer brand will evolve over time to meet the needs of employees and job seekers, you should put metrics in place to monitor your success throughout the development process. Here are some of the metrics you should include:
- Employee satisfaction
- Employee referrals
- Exit interviews
- Quality of hire
- Time to hire
- Quality of candidates
- Quantity of candidates
- Brand Awareness
Developing a strong employer brand is an important strategy for attracting high quality candidates and retaining your best employees. When it comes to highly competitive industries or specialized skill niches, there’s no better way for your organization to gain a competitive advantage.
Companies who fail to recognize the importance of their employer brand are likely to find themselves behind the curve when it comes to top talent, especially over the long term. No amount of recruitment spend can compensate for a poor employer brand when it comes to attracting the best talent and retaining current employees.