Employer Branding: What Companies Need To Know
Current and past employees form opinions of the companies they work for and that reputation tends to spread throughout the workforce. When a business posts a new job, the likelihood that top-tier workers will apply increases when the employer’s brand is strong and overwhelmingly positive.
The employer brand is a perception held by people in the workforce and the general public if the company is large enough. Just as companies spend so much time on branding for their products and services, they should also invest the effort to build a positive employer brand.
Owning a positive employer brand nets better job applicants and sends talent retention rates soaring sky-high. Read on to find out everything your company has to know to build an appealing employer brand.
What is Employer Branding?
If people are forming opinions about companies, what information are they relying on to do so?
For some, direct experience with the business informs their opinion. Customer service and social media marketing are increasingly common sources of information for the general public. Hearsay and rumors of internal conditions, salaries, benefits, and the behavior of high-visibility C-suite personnel all have an effect.
But it’s not all direct experience or gossip from current and former employees. Businesses often have a social impact in a variety of ways that are plain to see for everyday people. Even if the company can’t mandate all the aspects of their employer brand, they can get proactive and do their best to leave a positive mark.
Taking Charge of Your Employer Brand
One of the wisest employer branding tips is to behave as if the world is watching. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of tomorrow’s news. Transparency is among the most popular traits for companies, while businesses with the appearance of shady dealing can bet their public image is tarnished in some way.
Another way to look at proactive corporate branding is to view every decision and procedure as an opportunity to improve your brand image. Public image isn’t a limiting factor. On the contrary, your regular business practices can be turned into free advertising if you go about it the right way.
What’s most important is that the company goes about building an employer brand decisively and intentionally. If you can build an employer reputation that expresses your company’s values without thinly-veiled publicity stunts, the public will be much more responsive to your job postings and products.
Important Factors for Employer Branding
Current and past employees build a perception of the company throughout their time there, no matter how long or how brief it is. Even job candidates who don’t make the cut can still impact employer reputation, which is one of several reasons why an effective hiring process is so critical.
Here are a few specific employer branding tips to consider for your company.
- Salary & Benefits
Budgets and the bottom line are usually the biggest factors in salaries and benefits for employees, but if you let inequality grow past critical mass you can bet the employees won’t see the company in a positive light. This goes back to the transparency we mentioned earlier.
If you can’t wow employees with generous salary and benefits packages, don’t beat around the bush about it. Explain why their remuneration looks the way it does and be clear about why it’s limited in the way it is. They’ll likely wish things were different, but if the situation can’t be helped for the time being, people will understand.
Plus, if everyone is on the same page then an action plan can be developed. Crunch the numbers and see what the employees can do to clear the bottom line by a higher amount and set some kind of bonus as a reward.
- Accessibility & Communication
Have your employees ever met the folks in charge? This is an easier dilemma to solve for boutique firms and smaller companies whose owners and founders can feasibly swing by or stop in on a conference call with employees. If that’s not feasible, at least make sure employees have access to some kind of higher-up when they need it.
Maybe they won’t ever have the CEO’s personal cell phone number, but creating a role for someone else that has authority to problem-solve and take note when people are excelling in their roles is vital for people to feel heard and seen within the company.
Communication doesn’t only go up the chain of command, though. If there are many different teams or departments, make sure they all know the proper channels to use to communicate with one another. Give people the chance to weigh in on important issues and empower them to voice opinions about possible solutions as well.
- Fairness In Reward
Everyone wants to be rewarded when they work hard. If employees go the extra mile, some kind of additional payment or at least an acknowledgment is due. What many companies miss out on here is that employees don’t only look at their own rewards to judge a company’s behavior in this area.
Employees are aware of reward fairness throughout the staff. If they see a coworker putting in hard work for no additional reward, the sense of unjustness may well be the same as if they had been unfairly treated themselves. If people think there’s no reward for people who do extra work, it’s almost a sure thing that they won’t be putting in the additional effort.
Make sure these rewards aren’t limited to small treats or discounted promotional items. Most importantly, if you know you can’t pay people for additional work, be clear about it with them and make sure people don’t overwork themselves.
- Work-Life Balance
Is your company infamous for keeping employees past 5 o’clock or does it offer enticing work-from-home or other remote work opportunities? Whether you’re trying to appeal to younger workers or vying for the attention of the most experienced senior talent, providing enough time for them to live their regular lives is as important as a fulfilling work experience.
As digital tools like video conferencing software continue to become more and more important in the business world, some people have discovered that they are effectively on-call around the clock. With so many people working in different time zones as members of remote work teams, email notifications well past midnight are more common than ever.
Make sure your employees can set their working hours and aren’t obliged to log on again outside of that period. If you have people who work from home, this is even more important.
Building a Strong Corporate Culture
Don’t be fooled by the name. Even if you’re a small boutique and not a huge company, there is still some sort of corporate culture at your workplace. By understanding the culture of your workplace and how to regularly measure it, you can improve the atmosphere and make working there much more easy and comfortable for the employees.
The culture of a workplace has everything to do with the company’s values. If you don’t have a clear idea of what these are, you’re in trouble already. The priorities and values of the company should be decided on, reiterated, and pursued in every aspect of the business.
Since we’re talking about corporate branding here, remember the kinds of values that appeal to prospective employees and the broader public. Skill and career advancement, innovation, and authenticity are some of the most important and attractive values for the vast majority of workers.
Providing opportunities for employees to continue learning, upskill, or reskill as needed will make employment with your company much more enticing for outsiders and make people you’ve already hired want to stay on the team longer.
Other values also have appeal for employees and others not directly involved with the company. You can build a great deal of respect for the company by consistently hiring the best talent and staying on the cutting edge of innovation and new product development.
Instill values like ambitious goal-setting and thinking outside the box if you want innovation to form a significant part of your corporate culture. You can choose to have a sardonic approach to your social media marketing or you can have a more serious tone that is nonetheless approachable.
X Employer Branding Tips to Boost Your Company Identity
If you want to construct the best possible employer reputation, there are several things you can do. Many of these employer branding tips will vary in their specific implementation depending on the company, but you can consider this list as a good jumping-off point to start building a cohesive corporate branding strategy and improving your employer reputation.
1- Perform an Employer Brand Audit
Corporate branding can be tricky because sometimes the company or its chief decision-makers are unaware of their employer reputation. Luckily, this is a fairly easy problem to rectify. You can send out surveys, scour the internet for company reviews, and gather information from social media platforms to find out a little about the public perception of the company.
Don’t forget that the current employees of the company are also a great source of information about the public perception of the business’ employer reputation. Build an anonymous process to make sure people are completely honest.
This audit doesn’t have to be focused on the negative. Find out what does work and what aspects of the company your employees like and see what you can do about improving and expanding those aspects.
2- Involve Employees
You can keep employees involved in the strategizing process after they’ve submitted surveys and other information to help identify pain points. If you let the employees take an active role in making plans to improve the employer brand, they’ll likely be more enthusiastic about implementing the changes.
From an outside perspective, your company will have a significantly greater appeal than companies who invent top-down rules that are brought in and applied with little to no input from the employees. People want to be heard and have the opportunity to try inventive new solutions to solve problems.
There are many ways to involve employees at various stages. From onboarding to reviews to involving them in social media or advertising materials, current employees are typically the most authentic resource good companies have to build their employer brand.
3- Don’t Neglect the Internet
Most professionals are already aware of sites like LinkedIn and just about everyone is already familiar with the major social media sites even if they don’t partake in a personal capacity. Companies can improve their employer brand in a couple of different ways on the web.
For one thing, if you have employees who are long-term or just happy to be in their current role at the company, allow them to leave a review of the company in a place where prospective job applicants can find it. It can be difficult to achieve this authentically. Don’t force it too much and make sure the employee doesn’t overdo it.
Social media marketing also creates a kind of branding. Some companies have social media managers who have perfected snarky replies or a particular kind of “posting” savvy that counts as entertaining content on social media sites. Although these posts might not seem to have anything at all to do with the company or its products, it’s a fantastic advertising and very inexpensive.
4- Value Diversity
If you want to bring your company into the 21st century, show how it values diversity. That’s not a superficial kind of diversity, either. A variety of personal backgrounds, ideas, skill sets, and tactics will make your company more innovative and it will stand out more starkly against the competition.
There are a few ways to show your company values diversity. Once again, bring in your current employees to do this most effectively. Build events and spaces where employees can share a bit of their background by bringing food into work, for example. All the employees will get to know each other more and there will be a much greater cohesiveness across teams.
Diversity is one of those things that gets easier once you start. If everyone has the same background, breaking out of the mold will be more difficult. But once you have more variety on your decision-making teams, the diversity will beget more diversity.
5- Onboard Effectively
Show off your employer identity right from the start if you want it to be clear to all the employees. Even if it’s not entirely formed or is likely to change, an interview process that demonstrates an employer brand and gets candidates in touch with the company will be more memorable, more likely to find the best talent and more fun for all parties involved.
Once again, you can use your current employees to your advantage here. Include tours or discussions between employees and candidates to empower both and leave an overwhelmingly positive impression.
6- Relax & Have Fun
Lastly but perhaps most importantly, employer branding shouldn’t come across as a marketing campaign. It needs to be authentic for people to buy into it and the best way to make sure it’s authentic is to inject some fun into the process.
For current employees, that might mean some leisurely activities outside the office. Think team-building exercises that are purely for fun and not linked to any work duties. If you aren’t planning any events, make the office environment more relaxed. Traditional offices might have couches and space to make coffee while remote teams might make the dress code a bit more informal.
Social media marketing is a great place to show off a brand’s fun side. Just remember not to get too silly about it. You still want people to view your company as experienced and capable at the end of the day.
Companies should pay attention to the way they are perceived by their employees and the general public. For improved retention rates and securing the best talent, there’s nothing better. Corporate branding can be tricky, but if you focus on authenticity and don’t get too flashy about it, you can improve your employees’ work environment and your employer branding at the same time.
Put some of the employer branding tips in this guide to the test and you’ll marvel at how useful a positive public image can be. Your company will be able to attract the best talent and keep your employees around longer.