HR Insights 5 min

The Definitive Guide to Employer Branding

March 9, 2017
Updated March 9, 2020

Picture this: You graduate from college and land a job in one of the top 20 companies to work for in 2020. Sounds like the perfect ending, right? But have you ever stopped to think why it does seem that way? Here’s the answer: 

Successful employer branding.

Employer branding is the process of managing and influencing your reputation as an employer among job seekers, employees, and other stakeholders. If you successfully position yourself as an employer of choice, people are obviously going to want to be hired by you. 

If, however, you fail in that aspect, it’s going to be a problem (more on this later). 

In short, employer branding is important, and it’s something you need to get right. But how exactly can you ensure that your branding as an employer is a success? In this article, let’s discuss some of the key ways. But first, let’s look at the importance of employer branding in detail.

Importance of Employer Branding

To grow, you need to attract the best talent to your company. A company is, after all, only as good as its employees. The reason is simple. It’s your staff, from the frontlines to inside the offices, who make it all happen for you.

That’s probably enough reason for you to be concerned about employer branding. If it isn’t, though, here’s another fun fact: Employee branding is critical to your bottom-line.

For one thing, according to LinkedIn, a good employer brand can cut your costs per hire by as much as 50%. In any company, cost savings are always a welcome development. 

Source: Giphy

The other factor is employee retention. 

According to the same study, good employer branding can reduce turnover rates by as much as 28%. That’s already a lot. Remember that the loss of just one employee (assuming they’re a good one) can have an impact on your organization.

So let’s go back to our original question: What are the ways to ensure a good employer reputation? The key is to control and change the dialogue about your company for the better. Let’s discuss the steps of your employer branding strategy.

1. Align Your Employer Brand with Your Business Goals

Naturally, the first step in any employer branding strategy is to determine what you want to achieve in the first place. Sure, you want people to see you as an awesome employer. But the question is this. How exactly do you want them to see you?

To answer this, you need to go back to your company’s mission and vision. Your vision and mission will determine the type of employees you want to attract. From there, you can create a compelling employer brand story.

For instance, Google’s mission is this: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Its vision is “to provide an important service to the world—instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.” 

From the mission and vision, Google determined what it was looking for in its employees: someone who “can bring new perspectives and life experiences to our teams.” It packaged itself as a “place that values your curiosity, passion, and desire to learn.” 

In short, this is Google’s employer brand story. This narrative is reinforced in articles posted on Google’s hiring page.

2. Know What Your Employees Are Thinking

The best people to tell you how you’re doing in terms of employer branding are your employees. Your employees, after all, are the ones who experience what it is like to work for you. To know what they’re thinking, you can do a variety of things.

For instance, you can conduct internal surveys and ask them what it is they love about your company. Social media searches are useful, too. Some employees, after all, like to publicize their experiences, including their experiences at work, in social posts or Tweets.

Outside of social media, Glassdoor can be a goldmine of information. On Glassdoor, employees can rate their companies, depending on their personal experiences with them. 

The good thing is, employees don’t usually hold back when describing their companies. Check out these reviews by some employees of Amazon.

You don’t want to skimp on your reputation. Monitor employee sentiment and resolve issues quickly. Use modern tools for management, like the best accounting software, HR software, brand monitoring platforms, etc. to ensure you have your finger on the pulse.

The bottom line is this: If you know what your employees think about the company, you can always make the necessary adjustments. If they have a complaint, you can do something about it (make sure the complaints are valid first, though). If they love something about your company, you can continue to highlight that part of your company culture.

3. Craft an Employer Value Proposition

So by this time, you might already have an idea about what your employees think about the company. Based on this list of positives, you can craft the company value proposition. An employer value proposition is basically a promise you make to your employees and future hires. 

This is Apple’s Employer Value Proposition that was posted on its hiring page.

The promises you make in your employer value proposition need to be fulfilled. If you don’t, expect disgruntled employees. Frustrated employees will share their feelings with friends, colleagues and potential hires. This can destroy your employer branding.

Inversely, if you fulfill your promises, and even exceed your employees’ expectations, you will get rosy reviews from employees. At least from those who don’t mind publicizing their lives a bit. 

The result? Those rosy reviews will spread, and help your employer brand stand out.

4. Ask Employees to Share Good Company Experiences

For most people, the internet is the first port of call for researching a topic. You want there to be a lot of positive information about your company. The thing is, many people don’t share what happens in their lives online. When it comes to employer branding, this can be a problem.

To generate online exposure, it’s good to encourage employees to be proud of the company, and to write about the company values and experiences online. For instance, when on a company trip, you can ask employees to post their good experiences on Facebook. You can ask them to Tweet and use a hashtag.

Take a look at these Twitter and Instagram posts by Salesforce employees for example.

You can also incentivize employees to help boost your employer brand with prizes and other incentives. In a way, what they do is social media marketing. It’s important that this doesn’t feel forced or contrived, otherwise your initiative could backfire.

Finally, when you get employee testimonials and reviews, publicize the results. Cisco, for instance, has a dedicated section for employee testimonials on its website.

And the testimonials are not just your one-paragraph reviews of what it is like to work at Cisco. They are stories written by employees, in the first person, about how the company changed their lives. 

5. Take Advantage of the Power of Images

You shouldn’t rely on written material to get your message across. Complement your employees’ testimonials on your company website with other marketing material.

Videos can help drive home that message: That you’re a great company to work for.

Starbucks is an example of a company that takes advantage of images to boost its employer brand. On its hiring page, it includes a video of how great it is to work for the company.

The video, which runs for a little over two minutes, shows Starbucks employees interacting with customers and having fun with what they do. Employees also talk about the benefits of working for the company.

6. Provide Development and Learning Opportunities

At this point, it is clear that if you’re good to your employees, they will do the employer branding for you, at least in part. Being good does not just mean giving your employees the health benefits they deserve. It also means ensuring they see their job as an opportunity for advancement. Remember, few people want to be stuck doing the same thing for years. 

A 2018 survey conducted by Korn Ferry found that the main reason people were leaving their current jobs was boredom. To combat this, for example, you can offer training on proactive customer service for those on the frontlines. Or you can pay for your employees to study. 

At C3.AI, a provider of AI software, for example, employees who complete a computer science Master’s degree, have all their costs covered by the firm. If the employee completes the degree, they get a $25,000 bonus, a 15% raise, and stock in the company, among other benefits.

You can see how this would incentivize staff to develop and progress in their career with the company.

7. Create a Strong Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

An important element of your employer branding is your employees. The perception of what it’s like to work for a company impacts the type of applicants you attract. Microsoft, for instance, takes great pride in advertising its diversity and inclusion initiative. On its website, it explains why it places importance in having a diverse and inclusive team.

The company’s initiative is emphasized by testimonials of employees from different backgrounds. These testimonials are woven into well-written articles that are posted on the company website.

8. Have the Right Onboarding Process

Improving the onboarding process is something that some companies, unfortunately, do not prioritize. And it’s a pity since your process of incorporating the new hire into the company has an effect on whether or not they stay in the long run. 

According to OC Tanner, 69% of employees are more likely to stay for at least three years after a great onboarding experience.

But what exactly is a great onboarding experience? At the core of it all is this: Relationships matter. In short, you can’t make a new hire feel like he or she is an outsider on the first day. The key is to make the person feel like a part of the family. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Conduct employee orientation. Formally introduce the new hires to the team.
  • Connect each new hires with a mentor who will show them the ropes in the workplace.
  • Set up a network that will support the new hires.
  • Give each new hire a small token on their first day of work.

Give your new hires a memorable experience, and they will vouch for you as an employer.

How to Create an Employer Branding Strategy

In this article, we discussed the importance of employer branding, or the process of managing and influencing your reputation as an employer among job seekers, employees, and other stakeholders. If your employer branding is successful, you can attract and recruit top talent to your company, cut costs, and improve staff retention rates.

There are eight things you can do as part of a successful employer branding strategy. 

You can align your employer brand with your business goals, get employee feedback, craft an employer value proposition and urge employees to write about their good experiences in the company across platforms. You can also take advantage of the power of testimonials in marketing material.

As a company, you can also provide learning and development opportunities for your employees, create a strong diversity and inclusion initiative, and have a good onboarding process.

If you do these things, there’s no reason you can’t achieve that employer brand that attracts the cream of the crop.

Bio: Nico Prins is a B2B SaaS consultant and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop their digital marketing strategies. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to scale ups, helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.

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