Employer brand

Mapping the employee experience is a crucial part of your employer brand strategy

For today’s job seekers, there’s no such thing as ‘just a job’ anymore. The average person spends over a third of their life at work and people are now demanding more from their employers than ever – and many would argue rightly so. 

Employee retention is harder than it was even 5 or 10 years ago. What were once seen as ‘solid’ benefits – competitive salary and holiday allowance – are now seen as the bare minimum. And big brands are increasingly competitive when it comes to talent acquisition across the globe. 

This article will cover the key milestones in the employee journey, highlighting the importance of employer branding and delving into some of the lesser considered areas within each area. With this under your belt, you’ll be confident that you can push your employee experience to the next level.

The hiring stage

Role advertising 

An employee’s experience starts far before they get through the door – it begins as a candidate. And even if they are unsuitable for a role, or aren’t going to apply for your vacancy, to build a strong employer brand you need to cover all bases.

This is because potential employees might become suitable or interested in the future. If their initial perception of your employer brand is a positive one, they are more likely to consider you the next time they are thinking about career development. 

Here are some must-haves to ensure your advertising and career site attracts top talent:

  • Post clear information on what the role is and how to apply
  • Don’t be coy about the wage – people deserve to know what their prospective salary could be
  • Use honest and diverse imagery in your campaign
  • Be clear on your employee value proposition – what your company can offer them
70% of employees find a company more attractive when clear plans for diversity, inclusion and social responsibility are stated

Role consideration

When job seekers show interest in a role, a lack of time or resources in your office could leave them feeling a little unloved. While having too many tasks to complete may have an impact on candidate communication, it is important to ensure consistency is as smooth as possible. 

Here are some easy ways to make that happen:

  • If you don’t have time to respond to all applications, make this clear on the job role itself 
  • Ensure your career site includes additional details about the role put together in a nicely presented yet simple PDF – that way if a candidate calls to speak to someone about the role, but the team are all busy, the PDF will make them feel like their questions have been answered
  • When candidates enquire why their application was unsuccessful, it’s best to give as tailored feedback as possible – if you’re too short on time, compose a generic response as the bare minimum (this means the candidate will still consider you a strong employer brand, should they be more suitable for another role in the future)

Pre-interview and interview

When a candidate is invited for an interview, there are lots of ways it could go wrong if they are not properly prepared. While some bad employers might see this as the candidate’s fault, often it’s because people in charge of people management have not properly briefed them. 

We’ve put together our tips to keep everyone on the same page:

  • Determine whether an in-person or virtual interview would be better
  • Ensure the candidate is aware of all the stages in the interview process
  • Provide an agenda for the interview beforehand 
  • If the interview is being carried out via video conferencing, ask the candidate which tool they prefer to use 
  • During the interview, ensure the candidate is welcomed properly and full introductions are made 
  • Give them plenty of time to talk about their experience and their hopes for career progression, but also include some time to talk about themselves as a person – get to know them and put them at ease
  • Be open and honest when giving responses to candidate questions (for example, if they ask for a higher salary and you know this isn’t possible, don’t set false expectations)


The period after an interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking times for prospective job seekers. If your talent acquisition efforts don’t involve keeping in touch post-interview, candidates may lose interest, react negatively towards your company or take an offer elsewhere. 

These are our suggestions when trying to keep talent on the hook while you make your final decision:

  • Give an estimated timeline of when candidates can expect to hear from you – it will put them at ease and prevent them from chasing you
  • If the candidate is unsuccessful, detail why this was the case in an email
  • Offer a follow-up call to chat through the feedback 
  • If a job offer is made, give the candidate time to read through their contract and to ask questions to relevant people
  • If any benefits are subject to specific circumstances (such as years of service), make sure this is outlined before the candidate takes the job offer, or they could end up feeling misled
  • Once contracts are signed and a start date agreed, give your new employee a timetable or agenda of what their first few weeks will look like – they will feel much more confident on their first day when they know what they’re walking into

The onboarding stage

Your employer branding team needs to be ready to deliver what your company has promised. Onboarding can literally make or break a new employee’s perception of a company. It’s where they discover if your employee value proposition was sincere, or a lot of hot air. 

If they aren’t made to feel welcome, they feel abandoned or they are overwhelmed with tasks that haven’t been properly explained, they will be out of the door before they have had a chance to shut it on their way in. And that’s not to mention what they might say to people in their network or on social media about their experience.

Going the extra mile at this stage will give your new employee the welcome they crave and set them off on the right path. These are our tips for making it as smooth as possible:

  • Put together a welcome pack for the new employee – stationery, water bottles, notepad, sweets – anything that will make them feel appreciated
  • Give them information on their colleagues, such as names and job titles – you may want to include a welcome card with messages from their team and their photos (to help them get to know people better)
  • Buddy them up with a colleague for lunch so they don’t have to sit alone (ask them if they would like this before committing to it as some people may prefer to spend lunch on their own)
  • Set out their training schedule and what kind of tasks they will be expected to complete week-by-week – this will help them understand how long they have to get up-to-speed
  • Give them a company handbook that instils your core values, mission, etc.
  • If applicable, make sure they know about remote work arrangements and expectations
  • Ensure they know who they should go to if they have any concerns

The progression stage

There’s little worse than being in a role and feeling like you’re not going anywhere. Just because you put in a lot of effort to build a strong employer brand at the onboarding stage, that doesn’t mean a new employee should be left to just get on with it. 

The Employee Retention Report from the Work Institute found lack of career development was the number one reason for employees leaving a company – and this has been so for over 9 years. From the perspective of people management, this is crucial to understand and plan around. 

Employee retention can be improved by following some simple but vital steps:

  • Set out clear KPIs for your employee and if these KPIs are linked to pay rises or bonuses, ensure that these KPIs are achievable – you can do this by presenting the goals to your employee and giving them the opportunity to provide feedback
  • A dedicated learning and training allowance will show you care about your employee’s growth and career development – you could let them choose which course they want to take, ask them to select them based on a predefined list or link the courses with KPI improvements that are needed 
  • Even if an employee is working exceptionally well and hard, performance reviews are still just as important – positive employee engagement matters, and people need to know that they’re appreciated on a regular basis 
  • Consider introducing a dedicated career management conversation, this provides a chance for employees to reflect on your employer value proposition, feedback on THEIR goals and gives you a chance to shape their KPIs accordingly
Each year, approximately 20% of employees that leave their company do so due to a lack of career development

The ‘moving on’ stage

It can be devastating when an employee leaves a company – whether they’ve been there for 10 years or 10 months. The time and commitment invested will always leave a hole in their department until you can get someone else in and up-to-speed.

However difficult it is, it’s important to have processes in place to ensure the transition is smooth and that you learn from their experience. This will improve your ability to understand and attract top talent in future, and might also help with existing employee retention.

When someone quits…

  • Conduct an exit interview and give the employee time to vent their issues
  • Ensure you let them know how much you value them and their time at the company
  • Ask them if they would like to make an announcement along with management about them leaving, or if they would prefer just a member of management to communicate this
  • Give them a ‘phase out’ agenda of when they can hand things over to other colleagues
  • Throw them a leaving event or provide a card and gift

When someone retires…

  • Give everyone the opportunity to show their appreciation for the colleague – this could be at a social event or through a gift
  • Ensure they are involved in training the next generation to take on their role
  • Ask them if they would like to make a speech before they leave

Day-to-day extras to consider

Receiving a payslip

With a little effort, a simple gesture that happens once a month can become a great way to cement a strong employer brand. A generic or personalised message from the CEO or manager to show appreciation for all the hard work completed in the month will help employees associate their pay with being valued, beyond just financial remuneration.

Calling in sick 

People get sick, and it can’t always be helped. If an employee is nervous about calling in sick, reassure them about their performance, and advise them you hope they get better soon. If their sickness is particularly low, you could specifically mention this to help put them at ease.


Companies with hundreds of employees may struggle to keep on top of birthdays, so if you’re in the position to do so, an extra day off on your birthday can serve as a powerful reminder to your employees that their work is appreciated. If an extra day off isn’t on the cards, you could make sure they get a cake, card and small present to make their day at work feel special.

Company updates

When meetings take place behind closed doors, speculation can run rife in an office and even virtually. Where important company updates are available, ensure that employee engagement is prioritised – this could be in the form of a quarterly newsletter or quick announcement on Friday afternoons.

Show off their expertise 

Give employees the chance to share their knowledge with colleagues and the world. If there are events they can be guest speakers on, podcasts they can get involved in, or even internal CPD sessions they can hold, asking them to take part will give them a confidence boost in their abilities and help with their career development.

Working environment

Consider the physical environment your team operates in. Are the chairs comfortable enough? Are there enough breakout areas? Do they have a quiet space to go to when they need to concentrate? Is there enough fresh air? Do you give them options for remote work?

Not only will a properly considered environment make working a more pleasurable experience for employees, but it will also help them be more productive and deliver their best work.

Raising issues/improvements 

Introduce both an open-forum style meeting to do this and an anonymous route, as this will help cater for every type of employee. Many talented people have ideas about diversity and inclusion, sustainability and employee wellbeing, and it’s important to find ways to listen to and act on what they have to say.

Feedback surveys can also help you gauge answers to exact questions you may have.

Enhance the employee journey with brand management tools

We hope you’re feeling inspired and that we’ve opened your eyes to just how broad the employee journey can be. To assist your talent and acquisition team in all of these areas, see how Papirfly’s brand management platform supports employer branding teams.  

To build a brand that consistently attracts top talent, be reassured that Papirfly’s brand management platform already helps huge brands like Vodafone, Unilever and IBM. Discover the brand stories from these enterprises, including how Papirfly helps deliver infinite employer brand assets every month. Videos, social, emails, print and more – all made possible with on-brand templating tools as part of our platform.