When it comes to branding, we generally assume that means outbound marketing to a network of customers and prospects, and because of this connotation, many businesses simply aren’t aware, or dismiss the value of an employer brand.
Companies are now finding that their job advertisements are coming under severe scrutiny, and candidates are undertaking research across a variety of platforms, including Google searches and social media, to uncover what it is REALLY like to work for a company.
Every business with a workforce will have an employer brand, whether they have consciously and meticulously worked to craft one or not. Put simply, your employer brand is your reputation as an employer, and the value your business offers its employees.
The problem with being passive when it comes to your employer brand is that you are not in control or managing any part of it. Your reputation as an employer could be tarnished without you even being aware – by the time this is brought to your attention, the damage could be irreparable.
Why is employer branding important?
Your employer brand comprises a big part of your identity as a business and taking control of it will bring many benefits. It’s everything you stand for, and can set you apart from your competition and is essential when it comes to attracting top talent.
You will never be able to totally control it, but you can proactively generate a great employee experience, by creating an environment in which they feel supported and motivated, through implementing approaches and strategies that is respectful and mindful.
In the same way that companies (should) focus their efforts on creating an all-encompassing positive customer experience, they should also focus on creating a positive environment and experience for their staff.
No one wants their business to be talked about negatively, and with the workforce having many platforms in the public domain, from social media to customer contact, to talk about their experiences, you must do your best to ensure they speak positively.
Recruitment and talent acquisition
Let’s be honest, do candidates want to work for a company that has a poor reputation when it comes to their staff? No, they don’t. In fact, candidates will actively avoid companies with a poor employer brand, even if the role is offering a better salary.
Yes, that means that you will have to compensate for a poor reputation with increased salaries – meaning your bottom line will ultimately suffer.
A positive employer brand will increase your options when it comes to the talent pool. If you are a company that actively wants to create a culture that provides a great work/life balance, and motivated, loyal and productive staff, then you can guarantee you will naturally attract qualified candidates.
Instead of spending a great deal of time and effort promoting your business, you can leverage platforms such as social media.
Businesses with a strong employer brand will have a workforce that is proud to work for them, and often they will speak out positively about the brand, because they feel valued.
These brand ambassadors hold great power for your firm, reports by Social Media Today have shown that 80% of businesses with employee advocacy programmes have 65% higher brand recognition and 33% better brand loyalty.
As these statistics suggest, a high staff retention rate speaks volume about a company to customers, prospects and future candidates, helping to successfully grow a business, as well as contributing to the bottom line by saving on recruitment costs.
Employees that are brand advocates are great candidates for authentic employee case studies and video testimonials.
As mentioned, employer brand has a direct impact on recruitment and retention, but can also impact other areas of the business too.
When your staff are happy, engaged and passionate about their roles and their employer, the positivity is infectious and transfers to the customers and suppliers that they communicate with too. People will speak highly of your brand, encouraging prospects to seek you out.
However, the other side to this is that negativity can breed further negativity and customers and prospects will refrain from doing business with employees that are stressed and unfriendly. Prospects may wonder how they treat customers, if staff are being treated a certain way?
How does an employer brand become damaged?
There are a number of elements that can damage your reputation as an employer, these include current and ex-employees, along with your customers.
Employees that have had their employment terminated or have been let go for other reasons are likely to share their views and experiences on social media, employer review sites and in their professional and personal networks.
While these situations can never fully be avoided it is critical, for damage limitation purposes, that brands are conscientious and respectful when it comes to letting employees go.
Having a process that means those responsible take the time to explain the reasons for the termination, where the employee didn’t perform as expected, but also where they DID perform well, will mean the termination is framed in a much more positive manner, and any damage will be minimal.
In the way that poor employee reviews can have an impact recruiting and retaining top talent, poor customer reviews can too. If your business receives a high level of poor reviews, this will negatively affect a job seekers perception of your brand – no high calibre employee is going to want to work for, or represent a company, providing a poor product or service.
It’s unreasonable to think you will never be subjected to a poor review, but the right strategy is to respond, thank them for their feedback, and offer your solution or learnings from it. This tactic shows anyone who reads it that you care about the feedback, enough to respond authentically.
Take the time to find out where you are appearing online and what is being written about you, once you know you can either ask for them to be removed if necessary or respond accordingly.
A less than impressive candidate experience can hugely impact your employer brand. From application, to interview and beyond, the experience can be discussed for years to come, ultimately preventing others from applying, and even loss of business.
This comes down to communication; keeping applicants informed throughout every stage of the process will reflect positively on your brand as an employer.
If an applicant hasn’t made the cut, be forthcoming with the reasons why, and what impressed you. You don’t want to miss out on this great talent applying for future roles that are perhaps more suitable, because you didn’t show them the respect they deserved.
How do you create a great employer brand?
While your employer brand isn’t about lip service, it can be useful to publicise the steps you take. This can be done through social media or responding to any relevant media requests. If you have a company culture that your employees are proud of, they will naturally begin to push the messaging out too. The more employees that do so, the stronger the employer brand will become.
In the same way that you create audience personas, create personas for your future candidates. Learn who they are, what they are interested in, the content they engage with and where they are online.
This exercise will enable you to make changes to your current IP and online presence; for instance, is your site and application process optimised for mobile? 90% of job seekers are searching for a job from their mobile devices, and if your application process is hard to execute from these devices, you could be alienating top talent.
The recruitment process
As we have just touched upon, your entire recruitment process should be stress-free and efficient, as well as easily accessible by users from all devices.
Review your analytics to learn how people are interacting with your application process; how many stop half way though, how many return, how long does it take them to return – this data could provide insights into how accessible the application process is and if you are turning talent away – does it need to be simplified?
Following on from this, a great exercise is to take you undertake your own application process to experience how time consuming and challenging it can be.
Also review your communication points throughout the entire process and see where they can be improved. In order to keep in contact with great candidates who weren’t quite suitable for any current roles, you could set up a mailing list to send out interesting and relevant content.
Once you learn about who your future candidates are, you can create the type of content that they engage with. You can also leverage your team and real brand ambassadors to create content and even generate an employee ‘blog’ that improves team communication and knowledge sharing too.
Your current employees will be the driving force of your employer brand. It’s critical that you are committed to their wellness, work/life balance and motivation; look to offer current equipment and technology, comfortable facilities, a support network, the opportunity to further themselves and make sure they receive regular feedback.
It’s worth taking stock of the current situation and asking for your teams thoughts for anything that they feel could be improved on and what they aren’t happy with.
Letting your staff become bored and stagnant is a huge risk when it comes to your employer brand. As the world of business is rapidly evolving, your team’s knowledge should too, and training and education should be an ingrained part of the company culture. This will not only give your business the competitive edge, but also go a long way in making your employees feel valued and respected.