The Emergence of Employer Branding
When recruiting for high-quality candidates, a convincing employer brand can make or break the impression a company leaves on their prospects. Be it startups or established companies - a shocking amount of employers do not have a coherent and convincing employer brand in place, although research has proven again and again that the brand of an employer is the #1 deciding factor for candidates to become someone's employees. Not investing in getting to know or communicating your employer brand is one of the gravest mistakes you can make in today's competitive recruitment market.
Why You Should Invest In Assessing And Communicating Your Employer Brand
When recruiting for the best candidates out there, having a convincing employer brand is the most impactful and rewarding tool you can invest in. Companies with an established and strong employer brand report on average 69% of applicants autonomously applying as well as a 50% higher chance of receiving more qualified applications. Furthermore, they see a decrease of up to 43% of cost per hire and have 67% of job appliers willing to accept a lower salary. The most well known and reputable brands like Apple, HubSpot, Google or Netflix even have 84% of employees of other companies considering working for them instead of their current workplace.
“Employees seek to work for organizations just as customers seek to do business with them: when they feel that the organization offers what they desire.” - Edward E. Lawler III & Christopher G. Worley
It takes a lot of convincing to sell yourself as an employer, since the choice of a workplace is such a personal one for everyone of us. We live the majority of our week (and life) at the office. Our colleagues become our extended family and our work performance our identity. Satisfaction - or dissatisfaction - at work is the single most important factor determining our overall happiness, research shows. Leading a fulfilling work life is more and more identical with leading a fulfilling life. It is therefore no surprise that quality candidates are careful in their consideration and ultimate choice of employment. If they do not have a coherent or any idea of what a company is like as an employer or workplace, they will simply not even bother to apply. However, employer branding done right does not only convince candidates to want to work for your company, it will automatically attract the best talent in your target market.
The Power Of Authenticity And The Principals Of Employer Branding
Developing and communicating your brand as an employer can seem like a huge endeavour. And yes, it does takes time and continuous effort to take the necessary steps towards a strong employer brand. However, it is no rocket science. Just like every individual person has a unique personality and reputation, every individual company has one - even if they are not aware of it.
Becoming aware of your company's personality and reputation means getting to know the heart of every company: the people working in it and the people working with it. It requires engaging with their opinion and accepting their experience as valid and true. This might possibly be hard at times, since no one enjoys negative feedback, but it is this feedback that will help you assess your brand and Employee Value Proposition and more importantly - improve it. After all, it is your employee's and collaborator's experience that comes closest to a candidate's experience during and after the recruitment process.
A few questions that you might want to ask your employees and collaborators to assess your EVP are:
Why did you choose us as an employer?
Which values are most important to you at work?
In which way do you experience those values at our company?
What motivates you at work?
What makes us stand out from other potential employers?
What are your favourite aspects about your job, the people you work with and your workspace?
There is no magic trick to establishing your employer brand. It is a process of giving and taking, an evolving, living process that needs be nurtured and cared for. Take the internal feedback and give an improved experience back. Take the internal improved experience of your company and communicating it to the outside. Take the external perception of your communication and improve the internal and so on and so forth.
“Simply developing a catchy PR campaign is not enough to make an effective employer brand.” - Anne M. Bogardus
The true power of employer branding does not lie in advertising methods or marketing psychology - it lies in awareness and authenticity. Getting to know your company, your employee's experience as well as your company's reputation and authentically communicating it, is the key to having a strong brand as an employer. Ultimately, what an employer brand factually does, is telling a consistent story of why candidates should work for this particular brand and why current employees should stay employees.
Tell Your Story - With Your Employees As The Protagonists
Telling the story of your brand as an employer has the most impact when you tell it from the perspective of your employees. Viewing them as the protagonists of your narrative does not only validate them as appreciated contributors of your team, it also gives your storytelling the necessary authenticity and humanity it needs.
Showcasing their personality, work and development as well as the company's history, values and office through their eyes is a powerful tool in giving your brand an approachable and personal brand that helps candidates identify it, which is detremental in their quite personal choice of employment. The best candidates out there will want to build a relationship and emotional connection with a company or organisation before sending out an application; they want to be able to identify with the company's values, people, work environment and culture. If the company is lacking a "face" it will be quite difficult for anyone to identify with it on a personal level.
“Branding is an emotional connection, make it a priority.” - Beth Rudai Senior HR Manager, TD Bank
Great content ideas that will build emotional rapport with candidates and improve the identifiability of your employer brand are for example:
1. Showcasing the people
Give your company a human face by featuring your employees in content. Show their learning and development process, what working at your company is like for them or what they gain from being your employee. You can also show the typical day of your employees to give potential candidates an insight into what would expect them or what opportunities they would have working for you. Again, authenticity is key: be careful to feature your employees as individuals and letting them share their personal story and personality instead of turning it into a pure commercial. Formats for this could be testimonials, an interview or a follow-me-around video.
2. Telling the story of your company and culture
This type of content concentrates less on the individual people, but more on your team and how the team members work together. This includes their attitude, behaviour and values in both a professional and social work setting, but also the company's core vision and purpose. This type of content should ideally reflect your history and discuss where you started, where you have been and where you are aiming to go as a team. Solid formats for this are interviews - preferably in video form - or a blog post.
3. Giving an insight into the office space(s)
The office should be a home away from home to your employees. Show off the most unique and inspiring corners of your workspace, the rooftop terrace that everyone works from in summer or the snacks that are available in the kitchen. Great formats for this are an office tour or simply a few pictures.
4. aking your viewers with you on company events
Be it a teambuilding event, a workshop or simply a social gathering - giving your audience of candidates a preview of the kind of internal and external extracurricular activities you offer your employees is a big selling point to most people. You can showcase this using pictures, videos, or for example Instagram or Facebook Stories.
5. Including your customer
Wherever someone works - they want to feel like their work has a purpose and makes an impact. By featuring stories of customer success and giving recognition to the responsible employees, you can make potential employees feel like they could receive the same recognition. Formats for this can be varied: do a blog post, an infographic or have your customer give a testimonial about your employee's great performance.
An Investment In Your Employer Brand Is An Investment In Your Employees And Business
Establishing a strong and convincing employer brand means perceiving your employees as your business' strongest and most valuable asset. Although your brand as an employer can be improved and measured by tangible methods, it is - in the end - intangible. It is the feeling of belonging, purpose and appreciation that employees feel and express, when being at the office or talking about their work place. Your current and past employees and what they communicate to the outside world will always be the greatest and most convincing ambassadors for your brand. Having a strong employer brand and being an attractive employer therefore progresses from the inside out - make sure it is according to what you want to communicate.
“Becoming a better place to work is not easy.” L. Branham & M. Hirschfeld
The process of employer branding is an ever-evolving circle, not a fast lane. If the reality of your brand does not deliver what the communication promises, it might attract candidates in the short run, but new (and old) employees will quickly become disengaged and leave. Conducting the before discussed interviews or surveys should not just aim to find what positive aspects of your employer brand should be communicated to candidates. It is also an opportunity to smoke out your company's weak spots when it comes to being an employer. Taking your employee's opinions, wishes and experiences seriously is at the core of a successful employer branding effort.
Continuously improving yourself as an employer and creating an enjoyable work environment according to the company's values is the pivotal and most important point of employer branding. Happy employees means having authentic ambassadors that believe in and can advocate for your Employee Value Proposition and therefore employer brand - be it in person or in a video of your recruitment campaign. On top of this, study after study has emphasized the important connection between happiness and productivity. Statistical data showed that happy employees were more productive and that a happy work environment makes stock prices grow by an average of 19%.
Establishing a strong and convincing employer brand does not only benefit your recruitment efforts. It is the most valuable tool you have in improving your current employee's overall happiness and securing their loyalty as ambassadors for your brand and reputation as an employer. The resulting personal, authentic and compelling communication will attract the most sought after talent to want to work for you and ultimately scale your business to success.