Put simply, branding is to do with how your business is perceived by your customers. Your brand is what identifies your business and what sets it apart from its competitors. However, it’s far more than the company logo, website or colour palette. It’s about your reputation and is the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
While brands are consumer perceptions, the act of shaping how your product/service or company is perceived is called branding. And the same can be said of employer branding, except rather than trying to influence the behaviour and opinions of customers, it’s how you market your company to job seekers and internal employees. The focus is on how your staff perceive you as an employer and of course, this can be influenced by all manner of things including your company values, people management, learning and development opportunities and workplace culture.
Why it matters
Thanks to the internet and social media job seekers now have access to more information about a company and what it’s like to work there than ever before, so reputation really matters. After all, people aren’t going to want to come and work for you if they read lots of bad company reviews by current and former employees on sites like Glassdoor or Facebook for example. Coupled with this, Brexit and the ongoing pandemic have resulted in widespread labour shortages with vacancies hitting record highs. All of this means the competition for high-quality candidates is tougher than ever before.
Where to start
To create a strong employer brand, you first need to know what your value proposition is as this will inform your strategy. Once you have developed your company mission statement, values, vision and culture you’ll know what it is that sets you apart from your competitors. They will become the foundations on which your business is built and be at the heart of everything you do, from choosing which suppliers, partners or investors to work with to how you treat your customers and employees. Many businesses often forgo this step, but research shows that a company’s mission and culture matter most to job seekers as opposed to high salaries and staff perks.
Glassdoor’s Mission & Culture Survey 2019 found that over 77% of adults across four countries (the United States, UK, France, Germany) would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there, and 79% would consider a company’s mission and purpose before applying. Furthermore, over half of the 5,000 respondents said that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.
You might think you already have a good idea of what it’s like to work for your business or organisation, but trying to second guess can backfire. You’ve probably got an idealised view based on how you’d liked to be perceived as an employer as opposed to the reality. Existing staff can feel disgruntled and new staff disillusioned when the reality fails to live up to the idealised image you’ve portrayed. The only people who really know are those on the shop floor which is why it’s so important to get buy-in from your employees from the start. Find out what they love about your company and what could be improved by conducting staff surveys and focus groups with employees at every level within your organisation. Then you can use this information to inform your strategy and put measures in places to address any issues which might arise. You might decide to hold these focus groups on a regular basis to gain valuable feedback from your staff on how to improve your business and the products and services you provide. Giving your staff a voice and an opportunity to have their say will make them feel empowered and improve job satisfaction. However, walk the walk as well as talk the talk and show that you are taking action to tackle any concerns as opposed to just paying lip service.
Creating interesting content
Your employees can also help you create interesting and engaging content for your website careers pages, social media channels and news releases. Videos of staff explaining why they like working for you, testimonials and case studies featuring people in different roles can all form part of your story. Don’t be afraid to ask staff to post on their own channels and share their own photos of work-related events and activities such as away days or training courses etc using a hashtag you’ve created. This is a fun yet powerful way for your employees to share your company’s culture with their own networks. Also be sure to share stories about recruitment and staff achievements more widely by sending well written news releases accompanied by high-quality images to your local news, regional business and trade sector media.
Corporate social responsibility
Undertaking work in the community or in support of charities or local good causes not only makes your staff feel good, thereby aiding retention, but also provides lots of opportunities to raise your profile. For maximum impact the focus of what you do should tie in with your corporate values. For instance, if you are committed to reducing your impact on the environment and championing sustainability you could organise a series of beach cleans or local litter picks. Alternatively, if you’re passionate about supporting and nurturing young talent you could set up a fund and invite young people to apply for a share of the money to pay for activities and projects that are of benefit to them and their local community. Both initiatives are something your employees could get involved with or take ownership of and would offer lots of opportunities for positive PR.
How we can help
Many companies invest time and money in marketing to their customers but fail to promote their company to potential employees, and yet the skills needed are the same. Crafting compelling messages and creating engaging content to use across all your comms channels will help you build a strong employer brand. Similarly, promoting good news stories via the media will put your company in a positive light. Conversely, managing sensitive issues which could reflect negatively on your business is also vital to protecting your company’s reputation.
If you’re interested in finding out more about employer branding and how we could help you attract new staff while retaining existing employees, please get in touch!