What is an employer brand?
Brand Development is a key part of any marketing strategy, but have you developed your employer brand? Companies often think of their brand as their logo, key messaging, USP, value proposition and then how well they communicate this through signage, media and other marketing material. This is true for your corporate brand, also known as your primary brand. But a brand is far more fluid than these tangible and fixed items. It comprises perception and reputation and has the power to create an emotional response when people see, hear or interact with your business.
Your employer brand, or secondary brand, is formed by your reputation as an employer – not only by your current workforce but by past and future employees too. As economies grow and employment rates increase, attracting top talent becomes much more challenging; the balance of power shifts from the company to the worker. This places even greater importance on your brand as an employer.
How do you evaluate your employer brand?
In order to evaluate your employer brand, the best place to start is with your current employees. Through initiatives such as interactive workshops and surveys you may uncover valuable information of which you were previously unaware – the good, the bad and the ugly! Honesty and openness are paramount in these activities, and your organisation’s culture will play an important role in creating valuable insights. While compensation is obviously important to employees, it is not the focus of this exercise. Do you offer flexible working hours and/or locations? Do you have health insurance for staff or additional holidays? Do you provide both internal and external training and development? Does your company espouse an ethos of openness, creativity and trust between employees and management?
While these are only examples, they are a starting point to crafting your employer value proposition (EVP). By effectively analysing everything you offer your workforce, you can then begin to communicate this to prospective employees.
How do you communicate your employer brand?
There is no faking it. You could order your employees to stand in front of a camera and say how happy they are, but if it comes across as disingenuous it will do more harm than good. You must live and breathe who you are through what you do, what you say and how you treat your team. If they are true, values are easy to communicate through your current workforce using staff testimonials, an employee value proposition on your website careers section, social media coverage of behind the scenes and staff events and although it is out of your control, employee word of mouth and reviews on sites such as Glassdoor.
Video is also an excellent way to deliver a message to future team members.
Is your employer brand accurate?
Have you given any thought to your employer brand in the past? To how you appear to potential candidates as an employer? To what type of people you want to attract and retain and what message you’re sending them? Remember, these are the employees who should be personifying your brand.
If what potential employees experience when they start with your company doesn’t match what they read in the vacancy listing, you are more at risk for higher levels of attrition. This has a very negative impact on morale, productivity and of course on cost. Re-hiring is an expensive business, especially when you factor in all the variables such as advertising, interviewing, training and lost productivity during this time. Whether you’re a small to medium enterprise (SME) or a large corporation, chances are you’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about your brand development. Maybe your USP is that you’re trendy, quirky or different to the ‘norm’. Or perhaps you have cultivated a brand that embodies a sense of heritage, trust and tradition?
This is where the importance of developing and communicating an effective employer brand comes in. All too often this happens by accident and does not align with the brand values you have so carefully worked to achieve. If you are, for example, an insurance provider, do you want your brand as an employer to be based on superficial perks such as a pool table in the board room, or would it make more sense to communicate your core values as taking care of people when they need you most?
In their Harvard Business Review article (June 7, 2019), Ken Banta and Michael Watras – themselves leadership and brand advisors – say that the employer brand ‘should in fact grow out of the established company brand’. If your company is 150 years old and trades on this heritage and history in all its communications and visuals, then you need to consider communicating the need for potential employees to value this sense of tradition. Family health insurance may be more attractive to your target demographic than free beers on a Friday. Likewise, if you advertise roles with innovation and technology as key drivers for your company, but in practice new ideas are summarily dismissed with “this is how we’ve always done it”, then you may be headed for problems.
Keep your brands aligned.
In short, when developing a strong employer brand, ensure that it flows from your company brand. Be true to your brand values. Consider who you are trying to attract and why. You will have a much greater chance of retaining employees and keeping them engaged if what they experience when they work with you lives up to what they were promised in the job ad and interview.
Evaluating your employer brand is a valuable, thought provoking, often fun, sometimes scary, but always a worthwhile experience for any business to engage in.
At IMS Marketing we have years of experience crafting workshops and research to help shape your corporate brand as well as helping you effectively communicate it to current and future employees.
For more information on developing and communicating your employer brand, contact us at IMS Marketing