What Is Employer Branding? Definition, Benefits and Strategies
Understanding Employer Branding
Getting the inside scoop on potential employers is as easy as researching the hottest new brunch destinations. Faced with this reality, employers must take a proactive approach to attract and engage with top talent. A well-crafted employer branding strategy can help any business influence the perceptions of job seekers and employees, but getting started requires a little context. Learn how to get started with an effective approach.
What Is Employer Branding?
Employer branding is the process of managing and influencing your reputation as an employer among job seekers, employees and key stakeholders. It encompasses everything you do to position your organization as an employer of choice.
Your employer brand is your organization’s reputation as an employer. In simple terms, it’s what job seekers and employees really think of you. It’s what they tell their friends and family when you aren’t around. Though it may not be tangible, your employer brand is an asset that requires constant cultivation.
Employer Branding Definition
That’s where employer brand-ing comes into play.
Why manage and influence instead of own or dictate? Because your employer brand is not something you actually own. Your reputation as an employer exists in the minds of candidates and employees, and it is shaped by their thoughts and impressions. You have an employer brand, whether or not you actively manage it. Candidates and employees have an opinion about you, and if you aren’t working to influence it, you’re at their mercy.
Think about the totality of your firm’s recruiting and retention efforts as a series of individual interactions. Every touchpoint leaves an impression with candidates and employees that shapes your employer brand and your ability to hire and retain great people. Without proper management, each one of those touchpoints can become a deal breaker, costing you candidates and employees.
Benefits of Strong Employer Branding
It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of employer branding.
While the concept has been around for decades, it didn’t gain widespread attention until the mid-1990s, when the first online job boards were launched. Almost overnight, employees had access to millions of opportunities across the country. The workforce became more fluid than ever before, and the days of sticking with one company for the long haul were over.
Smart employers adapted to this shift — some faster than others — and began to take proactive steps toward attracting and retaining top talent, but thousands of organizations still fail to capitalize on the benefits of employer branding.
Value of Employer Branding
- Healthy company reputation: Win over on-the-fence candidates.
- Strong company culture: Strengthen employee retention.
- Positive brand perception: Entice others to view your brand in a positive light.
- Employer brand savings: Strong employer brand offsets the need for paying employees top dollar.
- Brand talent acquisition: Draw talent without the need for higher pay.
- Young talent magnet: Attract candidates aged 18 to 34.
- Employee referral advantage: Make it easy for employees to refer connections to open roles.
- Diverse work environment: Attract candidates from various backgrounds.
- Career development journey: Boost your ability to retain top talent for longer.
And those benefits are significant.
Let’s look at some statistics that shine some light on why employer branding is so important.
Seventy-five percent of candidates identify a company’s reputation as a key consideration when exploring new career opportunities. Virtually every candidate out there — whether they’re active, passive or somewhere in the middle — will consider your company’s reputation before applying.
Seventy-seven percent of job seekers want to learn about your culture and values before applying for open roles. Candidates are literally telling us what they want to see during the job search. Your employer branding efforts can be a great way to communicate these features.
Sixty-nine percent of candidates would reject an offer from a company with a bad employer brand, even if they were unemployed. Even the fear of unemployment isn’t enough to overcome a negative employer brand.
Companies with a poor employer brand must offer a minimum of a 10 percent pay increase to lure top talent. Imagine paying a 10 percent premium on every single hire you make. Now take a minute to consider the state of your employer brand and ask yourself if you’re already paying that premium without realizing it?
Forty-one percent of passive candidates would accept a new position without an increase in pay if the company had a good employer brand. A positive employer brand is all it takes to overcome the stigma associated with a lateral move for nearly half of the workforce.
As much as 23 percent of the 18-to-34-year-old workforce would accept a pay cut for an opportunity to join a company with a good employer brand. While we would never recommend intentionally underbidding your competitors, this goes to show the power of reputation.
While 86 percent of employees recommend certified great workplaces, only 56 percent recommend average U.S. workplaces. This one is especially scary, as employee referrals are often the best source of quality applicants. You can kiss those hires goodbye if just over half of your employees would recommend you to their network.
Eighty-six percent of candidates consider a company’s commitment to DEI initiatives when applying for positions. Biased employer branding and recruitment practices discourage candidates from applying and cut your company off from top talent. An open-minded workspace is crucial for attracting high-performing professionals from various walks of life.
Seventy-six percent of candidates are more likely to apply to a company if it demonstrates skills training and development programs. Build a robust skills and career development program, and you’re bound to draw ambitious professionals who can envision a long-term future working for your company.
More than anything else, these statistics prove that employer branding impacts every facet of the employer-employee relationship. While it is most often associated with recruitment, employer branding also affects employee engagement, retention and even profitability.
How to Build an Employer Brand
So you’re ready to get serious about your employer brand.
But how do you get started?
You may not be able to hire dedicated experts to handle this function, but there’s no reason you can’t build a compelling employer brand. Breaking things down to the most important tasks will make the process much more manageable, so let’s cover the basics.
Employer Branding Strategy
- Set clear boundaries when developing your unique value proposition and company statement.
- Understand what employees and candidates think about you and make adjustments with an employer brand audit.
- Develop an employee value proposition, so candidates know what to expect from you and what you expect from them.
- Manage your employer brand with a strategy that involves advertising jobs, monitoring social channels and delivering a quality candidate experience.
1. Define Your Unique Value Proposition and Company Statement
People need to know what your company’s all about before they can apply to an open role and commit to working for your organization. That’s why it’s essential to establish a clear-cut unique value proposition and company statement.
A unique value proposition (UVP) explains how your products or services improve the lives of the people who invest in them. You need to demonstrate how your company meets specific needs or pain points that consumers have encountered and why your company specifically stands out from the competition in your target market.
For this reason, you should clarify your company statement. A company statement covers aspects of your organization, such as your overall mission, values and culture. If you can articulate these parts of your strategy, candidates can better determine if your goals align with theirs and decide whether they’re a good fit for your company.
Through a well-defined UVP and company statement, you can connect with skilled candidates who share your vision and are eager to be a part of your one-of-a-kind culture.
2. Conduct an Employer Brand Audit
You can’t hope to influence or manage your employer brand if you don’t know what people think about you, so an employer brand audit is the first step.
This is a two-pronged fact finding mission designed to uncover how the company is currently presenting itself to candidates and employees and what those people actually think about the company.
First, examine everything, and we do mean everything, you’re saying to candidates and employees that could impact their perception of the company. Your job descriptions, career page, social media profiles, acceptance and rejection letters, onboarding materials, internal communications, performance reviews — if it exists, analyze it.
Next, it’s time to get some feedback from candidates and employees. Remember, the idea here is to understand how they really think and feel about the company, so be sure to ask questions that will provide meaningful information.
How would they describe the company to a friend? Why did they choose to apply? Why did they choose to accept/reject their offer? Why do they stay with the company year after year? Why are they leaving the company? Do they feel the company walks the walk?
You want to speak with enough people to feel confident you’ve gathered meaningful data, but don’t overdo it. Collecting too much information will make data analysis nearly impossible.
Once complete, the employer brand audit will help you identify and correct the gaps that exist between how the company is presenting itself and how it is perceived by candidates and employees.
3. Craft Your Employee Value Proposition
Armed with the information collected during the employer brand audit, you’re ready to craft your employee value proposition (EVP).
What Is an Employee Value Proposition?
The EVP is the “people deal” that exists between an organization, its employees and the talent it’s looking to recruit. It answers two important questions:
- What the individual employee or candidate can expect of the company.
- What the company expects of the individual employee or candidate.
Think of your EVP as the guiding light of your employer branding efforts. While you may never share it publicly, your EVP will shape your communications moving forward.
Developing your EVP is no small feat, but fortunately we’ve covered the topic in depth and can help get you started.
4. Implement Your Employer Branding Strategy
At this point, you should be ready to take your message to the masses. But what channels are most important? There are countless avenues you can utilize to promote your employer brand, but when getting started we recommend starting with the lowest hanging fruit.
Job descriptions may not sound like the place to let your personality shine, but they’re often the first interaction job seekers will have with your company so make sure they reflect your desired employer brand.
Your career page is the anchor of your employer branding materials, making it one of the most important touchpoints with potential candidates. Compelling photography or video, employee testimonials, your core values and more can all help convince candidates that you’re the place to be, so spend some time dialing it in.
These days, almost every job seeker reads employer reviews before applying to a job, and coming across a negative review can stop them in their tracks. While you can’t control anonymous reviews, you can respond to them, and that can have a serious impact on perceptions. According to a Glassdoor survey, 7 out of 10 people changed their opinion of a company after seeing it respond to a negative review, so pay attention to what people are saying about you and don’t be afraid to respond.
If you’re lucky enough to convince a great candidate to apply, at some point you’ll interact with them offline. Whether it’s an initial phone screen or in-office interview, the experience that candidate has must align with your employer brand or you’re almost guaranteed to lose them.
Remember to walk before you run. Employer branding isn’t easy, and there’s no sense rushing the process. Once you’ve tackled these items, you’ll be able to dive into more advanced employer branding projects.
Employer Branding Ideas
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for employer branding, so you need to determine the ideal ways for your team to show off its personality.
If you want to provide a general overview of your hiring and work practices, a crisp career page is a solid choice. This method allows you to quickly review general information such as recruiting FAQs, what types of positions you’re hiring for and a few perks your company offers to employees.
On the other hand, employee spotlights offer more personalized insights into your company culture. In a question and answer format, an employee can share what they enjoy about working at your organization and develop a more intimate connection with job seekers as a result.
Some companies even go beyond writing to diversify their media content, conducting interviews with leadership roles and posting videos on their site or on social channels like YouTube.
Whatever direction you decide to take, be sure that your strategy emphasizes the aspects of your company that set it apart while presenting information in an accessible and engaging format. See this article for more ideas of how to put employer branding principles into practice and convey a company culture that attracts top talent.