Employer branding can help you position your company as a top employer to build a strong reputation and attract ideal candidates.
It can also save you recruitment time, lower the cost of your hiring process and improve the quality of your hires.
Here’s everything you need to know about building a strong employer brand.
What Is Employer Branding?
Employer branding applies branding techniques to the recruitment process, with an aim to build a reputation as a highly desirable place to work and attract the right candidates.
In other words, employer branding is a mix of HR, internal and external communications, marketing and PR activities that present your company to potential new hires in the best possible light.
Think of it this way: Positioning your company as a desirable employer in the talent marketplace is similar to branding and positioning your clothing store in the retail market, for example.
Employer branding consists of:
- Defining your employee value proposition (EVP)
- Showcasing your company culture
- Creating a detailed candidate persona
- Setting your company apart from competitors
- Optimizing candidate experience for the highest level of candidate satisfaction
Did you know that 96% of companies believe employer branding can also impact revenue?
Not without reason — 64% of consumers have stopped buying from a brand after hearing news of the company’s poor employee treatment.
Why Is An Employer’s Brand So Important?
So, how much does a workplace’s reputation matter to potential candidates?
According to LinkedIn’s list of employer branding statistics:
- 75% of candidates consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job
- 52% of candidates look at the company’s website and social media to learn more
- The #1 obstacle candidates experience is not knowing what it’s like to work at a company
Our resident Brand Strategist, Zorica Marjanovic, explains:
“Through the company’s website, its social media accounts, forums, specialized sites and applications (like LinkedIn), candidates research and envision life at the company. However, candidates may trust the word of existing employees much more than the employer.”
To build a positive employer brand, you need to position your company as a “dream workplace.”
Start with these questions:
- Why would a potential employee want to apply to your company?
- Do you offer special perks or unique benefits?
- Do you promote from within (and how often do you promote)?
- Is your business on track to grow or become an industry leader?
You need to provide solid, stand-out reasons why working at your company would be a dream job for potential employees with great talent, while also genuinely standing behind everything you present your company to be.
Let’s look at the importance of employer branding according to different points of view:
- From the employer’s perspective: As an employer, you want to attract, hire and retain the best talent for every position you have. Positioning as a dream workplace for your ideal candidates can help you attract and recruit them.
- From the employees’ perspective: Being part of a strong employer brand can make employees proud and more invested in sharing their positive experiences and recommending the company to their peers.
- From the candidates’ perspective: Job seekers often know exactly what they’re looking for, what kind of a company they’d love to work for and which values and principles they are not willing to compromise on. So, if candidates can evaluate your company and find it to be a “match made in heaven” for them, it will reassure them that they made the right move by applying.
Key Benefits Of A Strong Employer Brand
Having a distinguished employer brand helps you improve the most important hiring metrics:
- Time to hire
- Cost per hire
- Quality of hire
According to LinkedIn, a strong employer brand can mean:
- 50% cost-per-hire reduction
- 1-2x faster time to hire
- 50% more qualified applicants
- 28% reduction in the organization’s turnover
When we put this into perspective, it translates into thousands, even millions of dollars and a significant amount of recruitment time saved, depending on your company size.
Plus, you can attract highly qualified candidates and have them happily stay at your company for a long time.
Start Enhancing Your Employer Brand Reputation
Before you start, it’s important to analyze your current situation and determine whether your company is truly a desirable place to work.
Start with these questions:
- What do your employees think?
- Are they satisfied with the work environment?
- How would they describe your company culture?
- How satisfied are they on a scale of 1-10 overall?
- How likely are they to recommend your company to peers?
- What are the positive points and what calls for improvement?
- What needs to be changed as soon as possible?
- What do people outside of your company think?
Use this research to get honest feedback about the elements that make your company a good place to work and the elements that might be dissatisfying factors.
Once you assess your brand as an employer, you can create a strategy and plan out well-coordinated activities across different channels that will help you leverage your strengths and improve factors that negatively affect your business.
Here are some suggestions that could help you improve your company’s working environment:
- Simplify procedures
- Get new equipment
- Hire more people
- Use time-saving tools
- Encourage open communication
- Introduce flexible working hours
- Streamline remote collaboration
- Add more remote-friendly benefits
The most efficient way to implement these types of changes is to apply a systemic approach to employer branding.
This means that top management and everyone else in the company should commit themselves to improving the culture, climate and conditions to make it a workplace people are excited to join.
By setting clear expectations, processes and practices throughout the company, as well as aligning your employer branding goals and activities with your brand strategy, digital marketing strategy and communications strategy, you can lift your employer brand to a higher level.
How To Craft The Perfect EVP
You’ve probably heard about a unique value proposition (UVP) that summarizes your brand promise to your customers or clients.
But what is EVP, then?
EVP stands for Employee Value Proposition and it’s everything UVP is, only directed toward your current and future employees.
An employee value proposition is a statement that emphasizes your company’s strengths in a clear, concise and easily understandable way, telling potential candidates why they should choose you over competitors.
It can be a single sentence or a set of sentences that answer:
- What is your company all about?
- Why is it a great place to work?
- How do you make your employees feel?
- Why should your potential candidates care?
- What can you offer that other companies can’t?
Here is an example of a well-crafted EVP, as seen in a job description from CreativeMornings:
“For more than 12 years, we’ve been bringing together people who are driven by passion and purpose, who support one another and are collectively raising the bar on what it means to be creative. CreativeMornings is an engine of generosity, fuelled by 1,500 volunteers in 67 countries and 223 cities. At our core, we are a global community of open-hearted, passionate, creative thinkers. We welcome everybody and believe everyone is creative.”
If you know CreativeMornings, you know that this statement sums up the essence of the brand perfectly. That’s what your employee value proposition should do, too.
Employer Branding In 7 Steps
Let’s take a look at some of the important steps you should take in order to position your company as a desired workplace.
Step #1: Define Your Company Values
This is where you answer the question:
What does your company stand for?
Company values may include principles, beliefs and philosophies that shape your company’s DNA and give you moral guidance.
You can even consider creating a manifesto to define and explain each of the values and make it easier for everyone to stay on the same page.
Your core values will vary depending on your business, but clearly defining them is one of the most important steps of an employer branding process.
The values your company cares about and strongly stands behind should:
- Support your business mission and vision
- Help you make decisions aligned with them
- Ensure your employees understand your foundation
- Help you build a strong team of like-minded professionals
- Ensure everyone in the company is working toward the same goals
You can also promote principles that your employees wholeheartedly support if there is something that complements your company values.
All in all, use every opportunity to highlight corporate values and show how they are incorporated into your employee experience, as well as your everyday work environment and your relationship with customers and partners.
Step #2: Clarify Your Team Values
If you’re wondering what the difference between company values and team values is, here is the answer:
- Company values represent principles and beliefs your company stands for
- Team values represent abilities you want your team members to be recognized for
Team values can also be seen as a minimum standard of performance you expect your employees to have in their job.
Some of the typical team values are:
- Ability to learn
- Proactive approach
- Mutual respect
- Open communication
- Good collaboration
When you define the team values, abilities and capabilities, consider showing what they mean in practice. You can create various onboarding materials and internal guides to address this.
As Zorica Marjanovic explains:
“Even materials related to improving internal processes, like our INTRANET at Digital Silk for example, can be a good tool for employer branding. Guides for (new) employees created in an innovative and creative way, whether printed or in video form, can contribute to the culture of the organization, make the employee proud to be part of the team and convey a strong message to the employee that they are indeed in the right place.”
The best practice is to point out team values in job advertisements, so your candidates can know what you expect from them and what it means to you and your team.
Step #3: Showcase Your Company Culture
When it comes to your company culture, ask yourself:
How do I want candidates to perceive and experience my company as an employer?
Answering this question will help you emphasize important elements.
For example, you may want your company to be perceived as:
- A community of like-minded professionals who care about the environment and try to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible
- A friendly, collaborative and inclusive organization with a remote-friendly culture and a high level of flexibility
- A company that prides itself in equally employing juniors and seniors to create a work environment where younger employees thrive through coaching and mentorship
Once you have your company culture defined, use all relevant points of contact with your target audience to speak directly to your ideal candidates and showcase your culture through job ads, job descriptions, company profiles and other assets.
Speaking of a target audience, that’s exactly what the next step is about – defining your ideal candidates.
Step #4: Identify Your Ideal Candidate Persona(s)
The best way to communicate clearly to your ideal candidates is to know who they are.
That’s where a candidate persona comes in.
The same as with your buyer personas, you’ll want to be as specific as possible about your ideal candidates.
Here are some of the questions to consider for your candidate persona(s):
- Who do you primarily want to reach?
- Where do they live (and is their location important to you)?
- Are they willing to relocate if needed?
- What is their level of education?
- What is their current income?
- What is their desired income over the course of the next five years?
- What are their best qualities? How are their organizational skills?
- What online channels do they use most frequently?
- What platforms do they use for a job search?
- Do they have a personal profile on job platforms?
Of course, the questions and answers will depend on your business, the position you’re looking to fill and your expectations from potential candidates.
Step #5: Explain Employee Benefits & Perks
Answering common candidate questions about employee perks and benefits is one of the most important components of your employer branding campaign.
Before the pandemic-induced lockdowns and work-from-home (r)evolution, some of the most desired perks that companies offered included, for example:
- Employee recreation room
- Paid lunch and snacks
- Fully stocked fridge
- Free on-site parking
- Company retreats once a year
- Local team building events
Since many companies transitioned to a remote-only mode in 2020 and many more are managing globally distributed teams, benefits and perks have shifted, too.
Today, some of the most sought-after benefits include:
- Health insurance
- The ability to work from home all the time
- “No micro-management” policy
- Well-organized internal communications
- Learning opportunities through online conferences
- More flexibility with working hours
- Mental health days off
- Extended parental leave
- Better stock/equity options
- Redefined career development possibilities
Of course, the perks and benefits your company is able to offer will depend on your abilities, possibilities and your company’s flexibility, as well as other factors.
Whatever you offer, be sure to mention benefits and perks in job ads, company profiles on job platforms, your social media profiles, email communication with potential candidates or during interviews.
Ideally, this transparency will lead to bringing the best talent in to help you grow your brand.
Step #6: Guide By Example
To attract the best talent, not only do you need to describe and show your values, culture, benefits and perks, but you also need to have your leadership team in line with everything that your organization represents.
Better yet, your executives will guide by example, showcasing the culture and implementing the values in their everyday work to encourage employees to do the same.
Why is this so important?
Because any kind of malpractice can damage your employer brand reputation. And even the smallest stain on your brand public profile can repel job seekers.
Here are some of the statistics to keep in mind:
- 95% of candidates consider a company’s reputation before they apply to a job offer
- 69% of candidates – even if unemployed – would reject an offer from a company with a bad reputation
- 65% of Millennials place company culture above salary when it comes to job satisfaction
- A minimum of a 10% pay increase is what companies with a poor employer brand should offer to attract top talent
- Employers who fail to invest in their reputation could end up paying up to an additional $4,723 per employee hired
To be able to lead by example, your executives should also know this: diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs) was among the most important principles for candidates during 2020, while 77% of HR specialists say diversity will be crucial to the future of recruiting.
Step #7: Optimize Candidate Experience
Candidate experience is a candidate’s overall perception of the company’s recruiting process.
Optimizing the experience your potential candidates will have with your company means that you should streamline every stage of the recruitment process, including:
- Job descriptions
- Application process
- Email communication
To make the most of your recruitment efforts and leave candidates with a positive notion about your employer’s brand, ensure that every recruitment phase is efficient, well-organized and that it reflects your values and company culture.
How Your Employees Can Help You Attract New Hires
If your employees are highly satisfied with the company culture and accomplishments they contribute to, while feeling truly seen and heard by teammates and leadership, they’ll be happy to help you build a positive employer brand image.
You won’t even have to ask.
Zorica points out:
“As important as it is for an employer to be positioned in a positive light with the public, it is just as important that employees also have a positive view of the company. Every time someone outside of the company asks an employee, ‘How’s work?’ or every time an employee posts something job-related on their social media account, it’s a chance for potential hires to get a glimpse into life at the company.”
So how can employees help with employer branding?
Here are some possible scenarios:
- They can share their positive experience with their peers, friends and family members
- They can show what it’s like to work for your company through posts on their social media profiles (over time, not only when there’s a particular job opening)
- They can publicly complement their team members and express how proud they are about the team efforts and company achievements
- They can share job posts to help recruit new talent
How can you engage your employees even more?
You can offer a referral program to reward employees who help you find the right candidates. It can be a money-based program or you can create a specific perks package for anyone who sends the best talent your way.
Why Transparency Should Be At The Core Of Your Employer Brand Identity
Being clear, transparent and straightforward about your expectations, as well as policies and values at the foundation of your business, will help you manage the hiring process more efficiently.
It can also save you a lot of time and resources you may need to invest in case of any kind of miscommunication causes a candidate to drop out in the middle of the process.
Transparency at all stages of a recruitment process helps you avoid misunderstandings, unfulfilled expectations and disappointments. That way, you also ensure that your employer’s brand stays positive and intact.
The best practice is to be transparent about:
- Company values
- Company’s overall structure
- Specific team structure
- Management models
- Internal policies
- Job requirements
- Expectations from candidates
- Salary range
Employer Branding Takeaways
The ultimate goal of employer branding is to foster a positive image of the company and efficiently attract and retain high-quality employees.
Employer branding can help you build a welcoming company culture, strong reputation and great teams, which altogether help you attract the best talent and efficiently drive your business forward.
To sum it up, here are the important steps and key takeaways:
- Assess the current situation in your company
- Improve and redefine processes where needed
- Define your company and team values
- Showcase your company culture
- Create a candidate persona
- Craft a compelling employee value proposition
- Explain employee benefits and perks
- Optimize candidate experience at every stage of the recruitment
- Encourage your employees to help you hire the best candidates
- Be open and transparent throughout the hiring process
The best practice for a successful employer branding process is to include HR, marketing, PR, internal and external communications to help you create a strategy and plan activities across online and offline channels that will showcase your company as a highly desired place to work.