Building an Employer Brand: What is your employer brand?
This is part 1 in a 9-part blog series called “Building an Employer Brand.“
Your capital “B” brand is more than a catchy tagline or an attractive logo. It’s a chance to distill your company down to its essential parts. The brand is your first and best chance to impress customers and earn new business.
While companies place a lot of value in their corporate brand, they may be missing a vital opportunity to do the same for their employer brand. Instead of being product or services-based, your employer brand is focused on how you treat and care for your employees and the kind of workplace culture you foster.
Cultivating your employer brand is critical to the health of your business because in the same way a corporate brand is your reputation in the marketplace, your employer brand is your reputation in the job market. Your employer brand directly affects your ability to attract and retain talent. Certainly, providing training to your employees to help them upskill their talent can be mutually beneficial, but too often employer brands can be reduced to a handful of trendy benefits rather than intentionally creating value for employees.
Because tossing a basket of benefit goodies at your employees isn’t going to cut it, especially in today’s job market, you need to be more thoughtful about crafting your employer brand. Due to the challenges our society currently faces, employees are becoming increasingly sensitive to the ways in which the employee brand they represent matters. Post-pandemic, successful employer brands will be defined as those who cared for communities during times of difficulty and empowered people to face challenges both personally and professionally.
Your employer brand’s value isn’t just better talent acquisition.
Certainly being able to attract global talent in the marketplace is a competitive advantage. And better retention means less spending and training per employee, which your HR team will applaud. But building an employer brand isn’t just about your bottom line or talent development.
Building an employer brand is more than a balance sheet that can benefit employee retention strategies if you just add enough funding for leadership development or employee incentive programs. There is no formula for how to retain employees with the perfect balance of benefits. The best employer brands are cultivated carefully with an eye towards manifesting the same dedication and sense of purpose as the corporate brand.
“The problem with most employer branding is that it is disconnected from the corporate brand and the core drivers of the business. It is typically managed by the HR department and too often becomes associated with superficial perks, such as free lunch or unlimited vacation. In the United States alone, there are now more than 40 consultancies focused on employer branding, usually separate from any larger strategic purpose. The consequences can be dismaying.” –Ken Banta and Michael Watras, Harvard Business Review
In the same way companies recruit brand ambassadors to provide products with credibility in the marketplace, cultivating employees who are passionate about your company offers similar payoffs for your employer brand. So how do you create employee ambassadors who are passionate about the work they do and the employer brand they represent?
Building your employer brand starts with a value proposition.
Marketing’s mission is to find meaningful ways to articulate the value of your product or services, but who communicates the benefits of your employer brand? What value are you offering employees? How are you different as an employer and what’s your value proposition in the job market?
If you’re at the beginning stages of building an employer brand, it helps to get a sense of the distance between the reputation you have as an employer and the one you want to cultivate. Soliciting feedback from employees about your current benefits, workplace culture, and values will be an essential piece in understanding your best opportunities for improvement. Some critical pieces of an employer brand to consider include:
- Work-life balance
- Workplace culture
- Diversity and inclusion
- Mission and values
Having a mission that resonates with employees may seem intangible, but it’s a concrete piece of company culture worth focusing on. And involving your employees in articulating how your company values can be manifested through your employer brand will provide valuable insight. Do your company benefits, compensation, and workplace culture support the mission of your business? If not, involve your employees in open dialogue about what the company can do to change that.
Helping employees feel like they are spending their days doing meaningful work that is both personally and professionally rewarding is invaluable. Glassdoor’s 2019 Mission and Culture Survey found that 77% of adults consider a company’s culture and 79% weigh the company’s mission carefully before applying for a job. Over half of the survey’s respondents indicated company culture was more important to them than salary.
“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 5000 respondents said that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.”
For instance, including language training as part of your employee benefits certainly provides value for diversity and inclusion, but taking the step to communicate how it ties to your mission and impacts intercultural communication is a key piece of building your employer brand. And it can help your employees become articulate brand ambassadors for your company in a highly competitive job market.