As an employer, you should always be investigating new strategies to remain competitive when recruiting new talent. Establishing, maintaining and nurturing a strong employer brand is one the most effective ways to attract top candidates.
How you communicate your company culture and atmosphere is key to your recruitment process. Below are some ways in which you can develop a strong employer brand.
1. Be authentic
Leadership within your business will determine how content your employees are in their roles and as part of your company culture.
Research shows that an employee’s perception of authentic business leadership is the strongest predictor of his or her job satisfaction, commitment to the organisation and happiness at work.
Becoming a leader doesn’t require taking on a new persona. The key is authenticity, drawing from your own experiences, values and strengths, and learning from mistakes.
“59% of employers felt that investing in an employer brand enhances engagement.”
Authenticity requires the voices of employees to amplify your message and values. Trust is often an issue when it comes to allowing employees to openly discuss your brand, but it shouldn’t be if you’ve nothing to worry or be ashamed about.
Your employees, whether you like it or not, will be sharing and discussing their experiences of working for you on social media. Rather than trying to control or stop them from doing so, your business should be using these conversations to spread your employer brand messaging.
Showing genuine interest in the wellbeing of your employees naturally strengthens the message that they will share.
2. Be human
Businesses, no matter how big or small, are run and maintained by humans. When potential talent looks at your brand they want to see that you have a human side and the traits associated with it.
In order to do business and attract the best talent, relationships need to be forged.
People like, and are attracted to, people – not faceless organisations. Showcasing a brand personality, thinking like a human and focusing on relationships are all important elements of a strong and authentic employer brand message.
Human contact is essential to an employer brand and a business in general, for example, we all get annoyed when we can’t find the direct contact details of a business.
“There’s a large online bridal retailer who ships thousands of items every day, and on occasion, they make a mistake with an order. In an attempt to humanize their brand and listen to their customers (rather than just doing what they, as a retailer, would prefer), they set up a split test to determine which way of apologizing to their customers would be most effective.
To Group A, they sent a $50 dollar gift card, and to Group B, they personally called to apologize. Once the experiment had been executed, the retailer followed up with each group of customers to ask them if they would be likely to buy from them again.
Group B, the group that received a personal phone call apology, was twice as likely to buy from them again. Because they listened, this retailer discovered that a personal, human connection — not a gift card, and not an email, but a real live human conversation — was more meaningful to their customers.”
Contributing to conversations online allows you to add a voice to your brand. Offering advice, answering questions and asking for opinions are all important elements in sharing and promoting your brand’s human side.
Your employees can also involve themselves online, using their own personal brand to strengthen your messaging and showcase the great talent that your brand possesses.
“45% of 35-44 year old’s would leave their current job for less than a 10% pay increase to join an excellent company. In contrast, only 12% of the same group would leave their current job for less than a 10% pay increase to join a company with a bad reputation.”
Sharing real-time social updates, rather than scheduling 100% of your content, allows you to tell your brand’s story as it happens. Immediate content also adds a human element as it’s usually candid and ‘real’. Photos of your employees having fun in the office, social events and the general culture of your office allows an insight into your brand for future talent and customers.
Using the same language that you would use in a real life conversation when sharing content shows a more human side to your business. On some social platforms such as Twitter, it actually helps to abbreviate and use slang to shorten messages.
Sticking with technical terms or corporate jargon will often alienate some readers who may not understand your message. Plain English ensures that your message reaches the largest audience.
3. Don’t fear transparency (what have you got to hide?)
Websites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor have completely changed the way in which we go job hunting. Companies who maintain and encourage motivated employees, who are happy to contribute to the brand’s overall success, will evolve, while those who fail to appreciate the benefits of openness and transparency will suffer the consequences.
If you’re not presenting an accurate depiction of what it’s like to work for your company then you may be missing the whole point of employer branding.
If it’s relevant to what you do as a business, the people affected have a right to know. All too often, critical details regarding company operations and decisions are divulged on a “need to know” basis.
Your employees (or ex-employees) reviews of your company and CEO can be hugely powerful marketing tools, equally, they can seriously damage your reputation and recruiting efforts.
Transparency from this perspective is available whether you like it or not.
“92% of candidates say they would consider leaving their current jobs if a company with an excellent corporate reputation offered them another role.”
As an employer who’s keen to create the best culture for your employees you should be happy to share your story with the world. Opening the doors to allow people to see what a great environment you offer your employees strengthens your talent acquisition efforts and separates you from your competition.
Potential customers are also more interested in your employer brand than ever before. Taking a more value-based approach to business is increasingly popular and these values are usually adopted when looking for a new provider or business partner.
Using imagery of real employees, rather than stock imagery, is one example of a very quick and easy change to improve the transparency of your brand. Another is to use real quotes from employees about the company culture and day-to-day life at your offices as part of your employer branding message.
4. Ask for (and act on) feedback
There are various ways to ask for feedback from your workforce, including regular departmental or company-wide meetings, anonymous employee feedback surveys or social events.
Employees need to feel that they are free to offer their advice and feedback without reprisal. If there is no trust between the workforce and business leaders then honest feedback won’t be forthcoming.
Asking for feedback is only the first step in the process, following up on the comments and suggestions from employees must be something that, as an employer, you’re seen to be doing consistently.
“91% of job seekers find a poorly managed or designed online presence damaging to an employer brand.”
– Career Builder
As the trust between your employee base and business leaders builds, so too will the honesty of the feedback you’ll receive, allowing you to further improve your employer brand and office environment.
By providing employees with continuous constructive feedback you can help them to improve their own performance and personal development.
The more competent and confident your employees become, the more it will reflect on you as their employer. Your feedback and developmental assistance will also help to make employees feel valued and appreciated, further strengthening engagement and improving retention.
5. Flex the rules
Rules are required in many areas of business, but there are also restrictions imposed that may not be relevant or entirely correct in the modern workplace.
Employees now expect employers to offer flexible working options in order to improve work-life balance and allow personal priorities to be accommodated.
Being flexible with your employees is good for your business. It builds employee trust, helps attract and keep key talent, and it drives everyone to collaborate to find solutions that work for all those involved.
While 67% of employers surveyed in one study said that they believed their employees enjoyed good work-life balance, only 55% of their employees concurred.
This indicates that employers ideas of flexibility differ from that of their employees.
Many employers also worry that letting employees choose their own hours or work remotely may create a disengaged workforce.
In reality, as long as leaders create accountability, flexible environments actually benefit your brand even more than your employees.
Allowing the occasional long lunch or early finish for a special occasion probably won’t affect business at all, but it will have a hugely positive effect on employee morale.
If you’re seen to be flexible as an employer then you’ll find that, in return, your employees will also become more flexible in their approach to work. They’ll become more willing to accommodate one-off or exceptional requirements from the business.
Differing religions, cultures and employee needs mean that today’s employers must accommodate diversity. Being flexible will enable your brand to accommodate the needs of your diverse workforce more readily.
6. Put employees first
It sounds obvious, but treating your employees with respect and valuing their contributions to business success is crucial if you want a strong and authentic employer brand. Not to mention the fact that finding and retaining top talent isn’t easy – the current expense for replacing a mid-level manager is about 150% of their annual salary.
Employees want to feel like they’re trusted to manage themselves to a certain extent. Give them a sense of control by offering options for how, where and when they work.
Perhaps employees want to bring their own device to use for certain tasks or they want more choices for working remotely or more flexibility in hours?
“It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they’re going to be happy.”
– Richard Branson
When your workforce is happy working for you, they feel invested in your brand’s success. If they perform well, then so too does your company as a whole.
This means better advancement opportunities, more job security and a healthier working environment.
This engagement is invaluable. It means your employees will go further to do whatever it takes to make your business a success. By putting employees first, you’ll ensure they feel invested in your business success, which in turn ensures your customers get a better experience with your brand.
7. Realise that fun is good for business
People don’t want to work every day, we’d all prefer to be spending time with friends and family, going on holiday and following our passions. Making the working environment more fun seems like a logical path, however, few employers make an effort to proactively ensure that their employees are happy and enjoy being in the office.
And that fun doesn’t simply result in smiles and laughs – it brings a tangible increase in workplace happiness and productivity. A more enjoyable workplace makes individuals perform better, in almost every aspect of their lives.
Utilising certain days of the year such as Halloween or Fireworks night, TV programs such as Bake Off or The Apprentice or even local events you can concoct competitions, initiatives or sponsorship ideas that not only create a feeling of goodwill but also benefit the business in a plethora of ways.
Having fun at work gives employees something positive to talk about and share on social media. These lighthearted stories spread throughout their network and act as marketing snippets, attracting the attention of prospective talent and customers alike.
Fun is also a great stress reliever which helps reduce absence, boosts the general wellbeing of your workforce and improves the office environment for everyone.
8. Share your stories
As well as making efforts to introduce all of the above to your company culture you should also be promoting your hard work and its results. Social media is great for sharing such stories as it provides a very visual storytelling platform.
Imagery of your employees having a great time as a part of your workforce, enjoying each other’s company and generally loving life at your brand sends a powerful message to anyone that is considering connecting with your business.
Using employee branding on your career page is a fantastic way to attract talent to your brand. Telling the stories that have unfolded within your business is a great strategy to attract applicants and customers.
“When we meet new people, we often ask, ‘Where are you from?’ followed by, ‘What do you do?’ Knowing the origin of a person or a brand helps to create common ground and establish trust. It shows that the brand … is more than a sales pitch. It’s an entity that has shared values and beliefs.”
– Sean Miller, chief strategy officer at digital agency Rokkan
It’s not just external sharing that’s important. By publishing employer branding content internally you reinforce your message and culture to employees, encouraging them to continue engaging and reminding them of the great environment that you’ve all created together.
9. Improve the environment for your employees
Collaborative spaces, quiet zones and healthy lunches are all examples of how a business can improve the working environment for its employees.
The better the workspace, the more productive and happy your employees will be. Even if your workforce is increasingly working from a remote location it’s important to make the office a pleasant place to be for those employees working in it.
Quick wins include:
- Open the windows to get fresh air and light
- Keep the temperature at a pleasant level, cool, but not cold
- Use color to brighten up the atmosphere
- Use art to create a more sophisticated, interesting and pleasurable work environment
- Bring in plants to add life to what is often a stark & sterile environment
- Get a water cooler and keep it refilled
- Get a coffee machine and offer free coffee and tea to your employees
- Keep the bathrooms clean and sanitary
- Keep it safe. Have systems in place to protect your employees from slippery floors, crime, etc.
- Whether you use flowers, air fresheners, or cleaning detergents, make sure it smells nice
10. Employer advocacy
We’ve all read about how powerful employee advocacy is for your employer branding and the many benefits it affords your business, but what about employer advocacy?
If a company truly invests and takes an interest in their employees then they should be aware of and promote those employees.
If your employer is proactively promoting your interests and accomplishments outside of work as well as in the office then wouldn’t you be more likely to reciprocate? Of course you would!
Many brands have at their disposal a marketing team, strong online presence and a large social following. What better way to show that you care about the individuals that make up your workforce than to use your online might to advocate and encourage your employees in whatever they do?!
As well as the social boost they’ll receive as a result of your efforts, your employees will also get a morale lift and share their positive employer brand story with others.
Employer advocacy stories could also be utilised as part of your onboarding, adding something a bit different to the process.
Advocating your employees will benefit your employer brand, the morale and happiness of your employees and, subsequently their productivity and engagement with your company.
Employee stories offer potential talent an insight into the diverse group of people they’d be working with if they applied for a role at your brand.
Your marketing team will also thank you for the additional, varied and interesting content that you’re supplying them.
11. Learn and adapt
Employer branding is never stagnant. There are always emerging trends, advances in technology and differences of opinion about what works and what doesn’t.
To maintain and improve your employer brand it’s imperative that you learn from your experiences, feedback and mistakes, and apply this knowledge to continually adapt and evolve your strategy.
For instance, scheduling a feedback session for new employees will give an insight into any changes required in the onboarding process, as well as what works well.
Brand-damaging content aside, you shouldn’t be afraid to try new ideas and experiment with fresh strategies. Someone has to be the first to discover the next big thing in employee engagement, employee wellness or employer branding. If you never try anything new then this will never be you!
Resting on your laurels is a surefire way to fall behind the competition and lose talent to brands that are staying ahead of the crowd.