A popular topic for a while now – many organisations are beginning to understand and capitalise on the benefits of creating and nurturing a strong employer brand.
From talent attraction to acquiring new customers, a reputation for engendering a great culture, employee engagement and company values is a major factor in business success.
Some brands might be tempted to try and game the system, faking their employer brand, rather than putting the time and effort into building one naturally and for the right reasons. Here are 7 elements of employer branding that simply can’t be faked:
Whether it’s employees or customers, advocacy is a powerful tool from which businesses can thrive and grow.
By sharing company news, employees can help to market their employer’s brand, whether this is to attract new customers, engage passive applicants or simply spread the word about what a great company they work for.
True advocacy displays passion towards a brand and often builds on the company’s core messaging.
Employees may be encouraged by their employer to share company updates online and, if they’re truly advocating the brand, they’ll make an effort and appear naturally engaged with the company through the language and tone used in their message(s).
True advocacy doesn’t occur for a set period of time either, it’s an ongoing interest that’s reflected on employee’s social timelines.
A great company culture can only exist and grow if the vast majority of employees believe in it, want to be part of it and have a vested interest in nurturing its growth.
Business leaders cannot force a positive culture onto their workforce, they have to listen to their employees and act with their best interests in mind.
There are dedicated sites, such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn, who make it easy for potential applicants to research the true culture of a company and act accordingly.
Reviews and engagement from current and former employees on such sites are very telling of a business – as is the response given to negative (as well as positive) feedback by the company leaders.
A company with a good culture may also share updates about its employees, initiatives and events, as well as the occasional day to day goings-on at its offices.
Does the business allow its employees flexibility on when and where they can carry out their work? Do they encourage the use of employee-owned devices (BYOD)?
3. Talent brand
Any business consciously wanting to maintain their employer brand will understand the benefit of ensuring that they offer the best candidate experience from the very start, during the talent attraction phase.
How do your employees, both past and present, feel about the company and its working environment? Also, importantly, what are they saying about it online and to friends and family?
Word of mouth can have a major influence on a business. Talent branding can’t be faked, so it’s important to make efforts to increase the likelihood that what employees are saying online is positive.
It doesn’t matter what size your organisation is, or whether you’re a local business or multinational, you need to make sure that your employer and talent brands are aligned and continuously monitor and nurture them.
A company cannot control what people say about it in forums, on social media or in offline discussions, especially past employees. Treating employees with respect and courtesy will help to improve such reviews, while maintaining a strong brand.
4. Attracting the right attention
Any business with a strong employer brand is likely to be talked about, whether online on social media or offline in conversation.
Advocacy, events, links from websites and word of mouth, are all ways in which a business can prove its employer brand, if the right things are being said about it.
Striving to be an industry leader, while continually improving your company culture, encouraging employee engagement and considering wellness, will attract attention and is difficult to mimic.
Making sure that your applicant experience and onboarding processes are optimised will help to encourage advocacy from a very early stage, while improving retention.
The Harvard Business Review reported that ‘2-d’ diversity (inherent and acquired) enables companies to out-innovate and outperform their competitors. Diversity helps a company to appreciate and embrace cultural differences; this is not only beneficial for company culture, but also very useful when speaking with customers and supplying services.
“Employees of firms with 2-D diversity are 45% likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.”
It’s very difficult to fake inherent diversity, such as gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, within a business, but once someone engages with that business it becomes just as difficult to fake acquired diversity too.
One of the top attracting factors for applicants is a sense of purpose in what they do for a living.
In order to attract and retain talent, brands need to demonstrate a strong ethic and belief in what they do, along with the values that they apply to how they do business.
Values help a business in many ways, including:
- Customer understanding and education about the identity of the brand
- Competitor advantage
- Recruiting and retention
A company may state their values on their website, but does the manner in which they conduct business reflect that?
It’s almost impossible to fake business values for any great length of time, especially when you consider that these values can include employee empowerment, integrity, diversity, accountability or innovation.
When we think of innovation many of us would immediately associate the term with products. Companies are often reported as being innovative for developing new technology, but innovation can also be associated with internal process efficiency, gaining a competitive advantage, employee engagement and wellness, and the quality of their offering, to name just a few.
It’s very difficult for a business to try and mimic these innovations without actually investing in them as ongoing strategies. Employees are affected by the efforts of their employer, with regards to innovation, and will often reflect this in their social updates and conversations about the brand.