Many companies have embraced the power of employer branding over the years. Even those previously sceptical about the investment required vs. the tangible outcome have bought into its potential through the pandemic.
Employer branding could be one of the single most important parts of your overall brand and marketing strategies. If you don’t attract the most talented people, roles won’t be filled, the business will suffer, and your bottom line will be impacted as a result.
In this article, we’ll explore how employer branding can veer off in the wrong direction, and how you can get it back on the right track again.
First, let’s take a moment to think about your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)…
If it doesn’t exist, isn’t up-to-date or properly formed, then you may as well have thrown the towel in already. It’s the absolute foundation of your strategy, shapes how you are perceived and is ultimately what attracts and retains talent.
An EVP is an entire education piece in itself – if you need to build on this before you tackle the rest, you can find everything you need in our guide Crucial components of any good value proposition.
Managing the perceptions of candidates
How your brand is perceived by prospects will largely shape your ability to attract quality candidates. This perception can be influenced by social media, your employees, your campaigns, coverage in the press… the list goes on.
50% of job candidates won’t work for a company with a bad public image (HR Daily Advisor)
Negative perceptions can increase a company’s cost per hire by up to 10% (HBR)
Having control over these factors starts with a solid employer branding strategy. By influencing the narrative surrounding you as an employer, you can help build a more positive impression of your brand in the eyes of prospective recruits. This makes your brand appear a more appealing place to work.
However, authenticity is essential. Simply promoting why your company is a great place to work without following through on these reasons will only enhance negative feelings towards your brand if the truth is revealed. And with sites like Glassdoor and Indeed enabling employees to anonymously discuss their work experience, the truth will get out.
Moreover, many make the mistake of focusing their strategy on external communications. That’s a big part of it, but it’s far from the whole picture. Ensure you invest an appropriate amount of effort, budget and resources into both talent attraction and retention – to appeal to viable candidates and to keep your existing employees satisfied.
What could go wrong?
❌ Not monitoring why employees are leaving or taking action over issues they raise
❌ Negative comments and bad press go unnoticed or are responded to badly
❌ Ex-employees reveal that your employer brand is all talk and no action
❌ Potential candidates are left discouraged by the lack of employee-driven content you produce
❌ You lose out on top talent both inside and outside your company to competitors with more renowned reputations
How to make it right…
✅ Hold exit interviews with departing employees to nail down their reasons for leaving
✅ Make a conscious effort to address problems presented by your team members
✅ Feature your employees’ experiences and expertise on your website, social platforms and further marketing channels
✅ Respond to all reviews – positive or negative – to show people you are a brand that listens to feedback and is making an effort to correct problems
✅ Produce content that evokes the messages of your core values and important causes, to illustrate that you practice what you preach
Determining your strategy
You understand first-hand that an employer branding strategy is ever-evolving with the needs of the candidate market. Yet at its core, it embodies a solid foundation of principles, ideas and goals that you believe strongly in.
While this foundation layer is fundamental, the way it is tailored for different markets and audiences is what builds upon this layer to create an effective global strategy. A lack of detail, resources or time can see your employer brand fail to resonate in specific areas.
Therefore, establishing a strategy that can adapt your employer brand to appease diverse cultures and audience motivations – and future-proofing this to contend with how attitudes change over the years – is critical to continued success in attracting and retaining talent. Of course, this is easier said than done, and requires real investment into managing your brand for the long term.
However, the alternative is that your employer brand is left static and inflexible – incapable or unwilling to address the unique concerns of particular audiences or evolving with the constantly changing recruitment landscape.
Furthermore, devoting the time and effort into establishing a solid, actionable employer brand strategy helps ensure it is actively maintained. This will help keep your attraction and retainment efforts consistent, rather than allowing them to taper off over time.
What could go wrong?
How to make it right…
✅ Treat your employer brand like you would marketing – with a separate strategy and budget
✅ Hire or assign someone (or a team) to actively develop, manage and evolve the strategy over time
✅ Introduce tools that enable you to be reactive and go to market quicker
✅ Have frequent meetings with teams overseas to discuss cultural nuances and trends, or introduce budgets to access regional and international reports
✅ Evaluate your competitors’ employment packages regularly to assess their techniques and what you can do to steal a march on attracting talent
✅ Conduct internal surveys or discuss with your employees directly what their goals are and why they joined your team, as this could influence your recruitment and retention strategies
✅ Dedicate time quarterly or annually to review your employer brand strategy alongside your recruitment/retention statistics to see whether updates are needed
Finally, investing in your employer brand must extend beyond developing a strategy and producing content. In order to present a clear, united image of your organisation to both prospective candidates and existing employees, it’s vital that consistency is maintained.
Those you hire represent your brand as much as your products or services do – and therefore they need to understand it in order to accurately exhibit this to others. The same applies to people or agencies you employ to create content specifically designed to appeal to potential recruits or motivate current staff. Any inconsistencies or vague messaging can weaken the strength of your proposition and render it ineffective.
So, once you have an employer brand strategy in place, it is important to invest in educating and training people to fully understand it inside out. This will help protect the consistency of your employer brand, as your teams will know what it represents and why, and can project this across your company channels and their own personal networks.
Steps like introducing a distinct set of employer brand guidelines and producing internal training materials and videos surrounding your company values can make a big difference in locking down the consistency of your messages.
Remember, it is believed to take 5-7 impressions for someone to remember your brand. This applies to your employer brand too, so it is crucial that the messages you and your team are sharing are compatible to prevent candidates from getting the wrong perception.
What could go wrong?
❌ New employees lack a strong understanding of your brand identity, which may negatively impact their impression of your company
❌ Content produced to support recruitment or retention efforts is disjointed, hindering their effectiveness
❌ Employees share incorrect or misinformed details about your company culture and values through their personal channels
❌ Candidates get an unclear picture of your employer brand, making it appear unreliable in their eyes
❌ External agencies and teams you work with become confused about your employer brand, meaning the content they produce is inconsistent and detrimental
How to make it right…
✅ Produce clearly defined brand vision and guideline documents, and make these readily accessible to your team
✅ Incorporate these materials into onboarding new employees so they are brought up to speed immediately
✅ Develop training videos where possible that make understanding your employer brand more interactive
✅ Invest in a Brand Activation Management tool, as this will:
#1 Enable you to bring employer brand content creation in-house, removing the risk of external teams confusing your messaging
#2 Establish templates and parameters for content production, meaning there is no chance of going off brand
#3 House all brand guidelines and further resources in one central location
#4 Adapt and localise existing employer brand materials for international audiences
#5 Allow you to store and share approved employer brand materials for your teams nationwide and globally
Good employer branding takes time, effort and significant financial investment…
Without a strong employer brand, candidates aren’t properly engaged, markets feel neglected and people are left to form opinions about your company that aren’t aligned with what you’re trying to portray. It only takes a few small things to go wrong and be left unaddressed to start a PR nightmare.