What is Employer Branding (And How to Turbocharge Your Strategy)


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, May 23, 2022

Employer branding is an important part of promoting yourself as an organization, but what is it and how can you create an effective strategy?

Article 12 Minutes
What is Employer Branding (And How to Turbocharge Your Strategy)

One of the top priorities for any organization is attracting, hiring and retaining the top talent. You want people that will work hard, fit in with the company culture and drive the business forward.

But the problem is competition for the best candidates can be tough. Therefore, you need to stand out from the crowd and position yourself as a great employer if you hope to secure the best candidates.

This is done by building a strong employer brand.

But what is employer branding, and how can you execute an effective strategy? Read on to find out more.

What is employer branding?

Employer branding refers to the way in which organizations attempt to stand out in a crowded market to attract, engage and retain the right talent. It should be closely tied into the values and overall strategy of people management. According to the CIPD, a strong employer brand helps “businesses compete for the best talent and establish credibility.

For it to be effective, organizations must ensure that their employer branding and employee value proposition are authentic, relevant and distinctive. It should address the key concerns and motivations of employees but also of the top talent you're looking to bring on board. However, it isn't just a marketing exercise – an employer brand needs to be something that’s lived and breathed throughout the business every day.

Social media has made it much easier for brands to communicate their message to their target audience and key influencers, but it has also made it easier for businesses to slip up and be exposed.

The benefits of employer branding

There are a number of reasons you should invest time and resources into building your employer brand, as it can have a huge impact on the overall success of your business. In fact, some of the key benefits of employer branding include:

  • Attracting the top talent: People want to work for a company that treats its employees well. Therefore, building a great reputation can help you to attract the top talent.
  • Decreasing the time/cost per hire: A strong employer brand can help you to attract candidates and build a stronger talent pipeline. This can reduce the time and cost per hire.
  • Boosting employee happiness and morale: Your employer brand is built on how well you treat your employees. If you’re treating your employees well, they’re more likely to be happy and productive.
  • Increase retention rates: Happy and productive employees are more likely to stay with your business for longer, increasing staff retention rates.

Is employer branding important in recruitment?

Employer branding can be an effective way of helping companies achieve certain goals when it comes to recruitment, retention and marketing. However, it needs to be supported by other elements to ensure that the target audience is getting an authentic message instead of fancy PR. For example, employer branding focusing on how you value employees will be virtually useless if you don't back it up with people management, progression and analytics to measure morale and help professionals succeed.

When done right, and as part of a wider business strategy, employer branding can be a valuable tool for HR. With its focus generally being on employees, it can help HR professionals better understand their workforce, including their motivations and pain points. This information should help the company as a whole improve its people management and the way it engages with employees.

For many teams, it will involve working closely with marketing and PR specialists and applying relevant elements of their strategies to HR, which will then be communicated and shared with employees.

An important part of this is transparency. With the rise of social media, employees can quickly and easily share their displeasure or annoyance with their employer - whether current or not - and this can have massive consequences for companies. Communicating about small or big changes happening to the business will limit this risk by giving professionals the opportunity to discuss their feelings or concerns in the workplace rather than on a public forum.

This will also help to get genuine insight into how your workforce are feeling, allowing HR to create an employer brand that reflects the organization and its employee value proposition.

Should you feature employee stories on social media?

A study from Content Stadium found that 55% of employer branding specialists regularly create social media content around employee quotes, testimonials and stories.

This is because they believe that content about life at the company is just as important as sharing news, updates or job-related posts.

Sharing stories and testimonials from your employees across your social media channels is a great way to authentically promote your organization as a place to work for potential applicants.

There are plenty of companies out there that are already doing this really well, but one company, in particular, is Unilever.

Unilever uses its global careers Instagram page to share stories about employees and why they’re so passionate about their jobs in the employee’s own words. This is an excellent way to build brand trust and give a genuine insight into what it’s like to work at the company.

This type of content also generates a lot of interest and is a great way to boost interactions on your social media accounts.

Learn more: Here's How Social Media is the Missing Link in Your Employer Branding

How to build a successful employer branding strategy

Despite employer branding being a passive process and recruitment marketing being an active one, it’s important that both strategies are combined in order to attract the top talent.

To help you develop an employer branding strategy, we’ve put together a step by set guide below, along with some employer branding best practices.

1. Conduct an employer brand audit

The first step to building an employer branding strategy is conducting an employer brand audit.

This requires you to evaluate all your current communication channels and employer brand touchpoints, such as your careers page, website, social media channels and hiring process.

You should look out for what employees or prospects are saying about you online. You must also look inside the organization at your current culture, corporate initiatives and employee feedback. 

And as we said above, your employer branding and recruitment marketing need to work together, so at this stage, you should also assess your recruitment marketing efforts, job descriptions, the job boards you use, etc.

Things are always changing, so you need to run regular audits and keep up to date with the current state of your employer branding. This will give you a better idea of the areas you need to improve on.

2. Create candidate personas

Next, you need to create candidate personas. These are a semi-fictional representation of the types of candidates you want for your organization. They’re used to help tailor talent acquisition strategies and help you to reach and engage your target audience. Your personas could include features such as:

  • Demographics like education level, location, age, etc.
  • Current role/experience
  • Skills
  • Aspirations
  • Personal attributes/qualities
  • Social life
  • The channels they use to find jobs, such as websites and social media

In order to create the most accurate and effective candidate personas, you need a deep understanding of who the ideal candidate is as an individual. You also need to include as much detail as possible. This is important to help you find, target and engage with the right applicants.

3. Establish your USPs

Every business needs its own unique selling points (USPs), and this includes within its employment package. Establishing and understanding what makes your business a unique and great place to work is crucial for attracting the strongest candidates.

To do this, you need to develop a deeper understanding of your company’s missions, visions and values. Then, think about the packages and policies that help you to stand out from other organizations, particularly those in your industry.

Your USPs are one of the most important parts of your employee-facing brand identity. Therefore, once you fully understand what it is that makes your business special, you can leverage your USPs in your employer branding and recruitment marketing strategies. This will help you to attract (and retain) the right people.

Learn more: 6 Company Values All Employees Will Look for in 2022

4. Adopt the right marketing channels and optimize them

As competition for the top talent intensifies, you need to make sure you’re doing all you can to attract the top talent. This means building and promoting your employer brand as effectively as possible.

In order to do this, you need to promote your brand across as many of the right channels as you can. There are several places you can focus your marketing efforts, and these might include:

  • Your career site or page
  • Social media, particularly the company’s LinkedIn page
  • Employee referral schemes
  • Employee intranet
  • Job boards

Where you choose to focus your efforts will depend on your target audience, and you can use your candidate personas to help you get started.

After this, keep an eye on where you’re getting the most engagement and where candidates are being referred from. This way, you can ensure you’re always targeting the right people on the right platforms.

5. Develop your EVP

Another important part of the employer branding process is developing your employee value proposition (EVP) strategy.

In its simplest form, your EVP is the benefits and rewards you offer to employees in return for their services. However, it’s about more than just salary and benefits; it’s what you can offer that makes them passionate about the role and your company.

This could include financial rewards and employment benefits, as well as opportunities for career development and a great company culture.

Your EVP is a huge part of your employer branding strategy. In order to develop this, you need to assess what you currently offer, gather feedback from both existing and past employees and define the key components of a strong EVP.

After this, you can write out your value proposition, start promoting this across the relevant platforms and continue to update your offering to meet the needs of the current workforce.

6. Encourage employees to advocate your brand

Your employees are your greatest brand ambassadors; they know the company inside out and can share authentic feedback and experiences. Therefore, you need to encourage them to advocate for your brand. There are lots of ways you can do this, including:

  • Encouraging employees to share any exciting news
  • Using the right tools and platforms to do this
  • Creating fun memories that employees genuinely want to share with others
  • Offering incentives or rewards for leaving feedback online
  • Sharing the impact that employees are having on the company, as well as their big milestones
  • Providing a dedicated platform or space for employees to tell their stories

7. Make learning and development a top priority

Training and development opportunities can make or break your organization. Offering the right opportunities can help you to attract and retain your staff, but get this wrong and you could see higher rates of staff turnover.

This is because almost two-thirds (61%) of professionals will consider career development opportunities when deciding whether to apply for a job. What’s more, 70% of employees would consider leaving their current job for an organization that’s known for investing in employee development and learning.

So as you can see, making career development a top priority in your organization is crucial if you want to attract and retain the right people.

Learn more: The State of Learning & Development in 2022 [Infographic]

8. Get buy-in from all relevant stakeholders

In order to develop an employer branding strategy effectively, you need full support across the business. This starts with employees and getting them to advocate and shout about your brand, but it also includes all relevant stakeholders and leaders too.

Without the buy-in and engagement of senior team members, your employer branding process and initiatives can only go so far.

This is because building your employer brand must start from the top and trickle down throughout the organization, ensuring the creation of a great company culture.

It’s also important that stakeholders, C-Suite executives and leadership teams are using their platform to communicate their experiences too. They need to shout about the company’s core values, missions and culture.

9. Evaluate your strategy and make tweaks if necessary

Finally, getting an employer branding strategy in place doesn’t mean the work is done. Once you’ve planned and implemented your strategy, you need to maintain momentum, evaluate your efforts and make any tweaks where necessary.

There are several ways you can measure employer branding. Firstly, look at your top KPIs and measure your results. Have staff retention rates gone up? How many new employees have you hired? Are you getting more engagement on your social media content?

You can also continue to gather feedback from employees and monitor any feedback being left online.

By checking the progress of your initiatives regularly and analyzing the results, you can find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie and continue to upgrade your employer branding efforts accordingly.

You can also make sure your organization is living up to the promises it made in its EVP as well as living and meeting your missions, visions and values.

Final thoughts

From this guide, you can see why a strong employer brand is so important to your organization. In today’s competitive job market, companies need to go above and beyond if they hope to attract and retain the right people.

Using our step by set breakdown above, you can get a solid employer branding strategy in place and begin boosting your reputation. Remember to make the most of the tools available to you, such as social media, career sites and LinkedIn and encourage your workforce to act as brand advocates.

Of course, you have to give them a reason to leave positive feedback online, so be sure there are plenty of opportunities for training and development, as well as creating a company culture that your employees will want to shout about.

To help you make better informed HR decisions, click here to view more industry trends.

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