Whether you know it or not, your company has an employer brand – and that brand heavily impacts the way your organization operates.
It influences every step of the employee life cycle, beginning with recruitment, all the way through to engagement and turnover.
And if it’s affecting your employees, you can bet that it’s also affecting your business. Understanding what an employer brand is, why it matters and how you can intentionally cultivate your own is key to ensuring this element of company culture is working in your favor.
What is an employer brand?
An employer brand is the reputation your company projects to current and future employees about what it means to be an employee at your organization. According to SHRM, it encompasses your company’s mission, values, culture and personality, and affects recruitment, retention, engagement and market perception.
This all sounds straightforward in theory, but in reality, what leaders claim to be their employer brand can often feel disconnected from the day-to-day employee experience. This can happen for a few different reasons:
- The employer brand is entirely aspirational, rather than reflecting the existing company culture
- The employer brand hasn’t been sufficiently communicated, so employees lack clarity around which behaviors they should strive to exemplify
- The employer brand lacks a strategy for reinforcement, and remains a high-level ideal rather than something that actually guides day-to-day operations
To remedy these potential disconnects, it’s critical that leaders are intentional about the way they develop, disseminate and continuously build their employer brand. The rest of this article shares key recommendations to help accomplish just that.
Part one: Development
While it’s okay (and perhaps even recommended) for an employer brand to contain some aspirational elements, it’s important that it’s fundamentally rooted in the company culture that already exists.
Whether it’s a notably open style of communication or a tradition of embracing risks, every company has strengths that set them apart from the competition and define what it’s like to work there. Nobody is better qualified to speak to these strengths than your existing workforce.
With this in mind, a key component of developing your employer brand should be surveying employees to find out how they view your company culture as it already stands. From this feedback, you can extract and amplify positive elements to further strengthen your employer brand while being true to what your company already represents. Basing your employer brand on employee feedback helps prevent it from feeling untethered from your actual company culture.
In addition to employee feedback, you should consider your existing customer-facing brand, mission statement and core values. You can then distill all of these insights into an employee value proposition that clearly and concisely communicates the benefit(s) of your employer brand.
Part two: Reinforcement
Defining your employer brand is only half the battle. If you want to transform it from a high-level ideal into something that actually guides the way your organization operates, you need a strategy for integrating your employer brand into the day-to-day aspects of the employee experience. One of the best ways to do this is by prioritizing employee recognition.
You’ll first need to think about what specific behaviors exemplify your employer brand. Maybe it’s an unwavering willingness to lend a helping hand, or a fast-paced work style that keeps your company at the edge of innovation.
Once you’ve identified a handful of these behaviors, establish them as occasions for recognition. Encourage managers and peers alike to publicly recognize one another anytime they see a colleague living up to your employer brand. Not only will this incentivize employees to strive for these ideals, but it also helps keep them top of mind.
In addition to driving behavioral changes in your employees, you’ll need to think critically about the other policies and programs in place to support employees at your company. Whether that means health benefits, a flexible PTO policy, corporate discounts or something else, the things you do for your employees say as much about your employer brand as what your employees do for you.
The benefits of strong a employer brand
Having an impactful employer brand will not only help strengthen the team you already have, but also the team you could have in the future. It can significantly help to attract great talent that aligns with your company culture. In fact, a study conducted by LinkedIn Talent Solutions showed that companies with a strong employer brand attracted 50% more qualified applicants. It’s critical that your employer brand is represented in job listings and on hiring sites, so candidates understand what your company stands for. Both your team and your company will reap the benefits.
Great employer branding is the result of intentional decisions by a company’s leadership, talent acquisition team and people team. Get the ultimate employer brand best practices guide here.