How to Build a Successful Employer Branding Strategy for Your Organization
An employer branding strategy can give your organization a powerful competitive edge in recruiting and retaining the best employees. So how can you build a solid employer branding strategy for your business?
What is employer branding?
Your employer brand is the reputation and experience your organization conjures as an employer. In other words, your employer brand is the perceived identity of your organization by the public, whether it’s an accurate reflection or not. William Tincup (President at RecruitingDaily) referred to the employer brand as “your unique scent as a company.”
Your employer brand is built on multiple factors, including the policies, programs, rewards, and benefits and perks you offer prospective candidates and existing employees. Even if you haven’t created an employer branding strategy, your employer brand already exists and is being experienced every day. There’s a chance your brand is being perceived differently from how you desire it to be received.
Today, an organization’s reputation is more critical than ever. Surveys have shown that 86% of people would not apply to work with, or continue to work for, a company that has a bad reputation. So whether you’re currently strategizing and monitoring your employer brand or not, it matters more than you think it does.
How does employer branding help your company?
An organization with a strong employer brand experience can experience:
- 28% reduction in employee turnover rates
- 50% reduction in cost per hire
- Time to hire is 1-2x faster
- 50% more qualified applicants
In addition, Glassdoor estimates that 95% of potential candidates say an organization’s employer brand is a critical factor when deciding whether to apply for a job there or not. In comparison, 75% of job seekers are likely to apply if the organization is actively managing its brand.
An attractive employer brand can lead to improved talent acquisition (without additional spending), reduced time to fill and time to hire, less spend on salaries, improved employee retention rates, and a more enjoyable, thriving work environment for everyone in your organization. The bottom line is, creating an employer branding strategy or improving your existing one will boost your recruitment impact and help you attract the right candidates to your organization.
So, let’s explore how you can start developing an employer branding strategy today.
12 steps to develop an employer branding strategy
Before we get started, it’s important to note that an employer branding strategy probably won’t make sense for a small company or startup with few employees that isn’t looking to make many hires soon.
However, if your organization has 50 or more employees, now is a great time to start developing your employer branding strategy. If you’re a large organization (500+ employees), you should already have a strong strategy in place and regularly monitor and adjust it. So, if you don’t, now is the time to get started.
1. Audit your existing employer brand
The first step to developing an employer branding strategy is to clarify what your organization is currently communicating to the public and your current employees.
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To do this, you may want to:
- send out surveys or conduct informal interviews with your employees,
- look at what people are saying about you on social media channels,
- read reviews on employer review sites like Glassdoor,
- or even hire an external company that monitors your brand reputation.
Your research aims to discover what your organization currently does well (i.e., what your employees love about working for you) and what needs improving.
Once you have a solid idea of where you stand, you’ll be able to pinpoint what you want to change.
Case study: Goldman Sachs
A real-life example of this is Goldman Sachs that surveyed more than 40,000 people on various metrics on perceptions of the company (including reputation and diversity). Some unfavorable words continued to crop up, including “competitive,” “elitist,” and “cutthroat.”
This led to a new “Day In The Life” campaign aiming to set the record straight, show what it’s really like to work at Goldman Sachs, and attract the next generation of talent.
2. Review your recruitment and selection process
Your entire recruitment and selection process has a greater impact on your employer brand than you might think. This includes your initial job postings, the application process, interview stages, the final offer, and onboarding of new hires.
Is your brand clear to candidates throughout this process? Does it accurately show them what it’s like to work in your organization and explain why they would want to? Is the admin process smooth, timely, and functioning properly? Are you attracting the right talent for your organization and ensuring their values align with yours? Do candidates receive everything they need before their first day? And finally, are they excited about starting their job from the beginning?
A positive onboarding process will lead to excited, motivated, and competent employees, lower turnover rates, and more efficient and productive teams. On the other hand, a negative onboarding experience can lead to employees being twice as likely to quit.
3. Start building your employer brand on your unique EVP
Your employee value proposition (EVP) is the benefits and rewards your employees receive in exchange for their time, energy, skills, and commitment. This is the heart of your employer brand and should convey what’s unique about your organization and what you offer. The difference is that your employee value proposition is internal, while your employer brand is external.
Gartner distinguishes the following five key elements of an EVP:
- Compensation: How satisfied employees are with their salaries, as well as additional rewards and bonuses.
- Work-life balance: The benefits on offer including paid vacation time, sick leave, flextime, remote working options, health care, and retirement plans.
- Stability: The opportunities available for progression within the organization, career development, and employee training.
- Location: The physical space and cultural environment of your office, as well as its location.
- Respect: Team spirit, relationships, support, your company’s culture, and values.
These five elements form your unique EVP, which should be the foundation of the employer brand you convey to the public. Of course, every organization’s EVP will be different.
The critical task here is to play to your strengths but maintain integrity and be honest. If you’re not happy with your EVP, look at what you can do to make your offering more attractive to prospective hires. Then you can effectively leverage it in building your employer brand.
Case study: Sky
Sky’s EVP is summarized as, “A job you love to talk about.”
The company conducted research and found that employees consistently said, “I work for Sky” when asked what they do for a living before explaining their exact role. Additionally, Sky offers “Only at Sky Experiences” to their workforce, including a cinema in the office.
4. Set goals
The next step for building a successful employer branding strategy is getting clear on your specific goals.
- What do you want your employer brand to look like and say?
- What do you want candidates to read, see and feel when they come into contact with your organization?
- Do you know your key objectives, and how would you rank them in terms of priority?
For example, are you looking for more qualified candidates or greater diversity in your workplace? Are you seeking greater awareness of what your organization does and stands for?
These are all important questions to answer to set specific goals tailored to your organization and the brand you want to create.
5. Divide responsibilities
Getting clear on who is responsible for what from the start will ensure that complications down the line are minimized. So, how will you divide responsibilities?
In smaller companies, it’s most common to use internal employees to form part of your employer branding team. This will likely be the most affordable option. It can be just as effective as using an external consultant or agency. For example, employer branding might become a part of HR’s or TA’s function.
Larger companies may have the budget to hire a dedicated employer branding specialist or even a team of them. They can also choose to work with external agencies or consultants to manage their employer branding strategy. This is the best option for an organization with no internal experience or any employees who can handle the additional workload.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s vital that everyone knows who’s responsible for what and can be held accountable.
A people analytics study at a large airline company found that customer brand and employee brand heavily correlated, with over 60% of the variance in the customer brand matching with the variance of the employee brand. This suggests that partnering with other branding teams within your organization (if you have them) can significantly improve your employer brand because you can learn from each other and make a greater impact.
6. Select relevant metrics to track
Now that you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to select relevant metrics to track and determine how you will measure them.
Three key components constitute your employer brand. All three parts feed into and affect each other.
This relates to your brand’s visibility as a result of marketing campaigns and other branding activities. The goal is to figure out how many people know about your brand and what they think of it.
To measure this, you might ask potential candidates or a specific target group if they’re aware of your company and record the percentage that says yes.
Alternatively, you could ask an open question like, “What three companies seem like the most exciting to work for?”—This is known as recall awareness.
Your social media channels are another place to measure interesting and valuable metrics. This could include your number of followers, impressions, likes, and shares. If your numbers continue to rise each month, this is a great sign that your employer brand is exciting and that people have heard of and are interested in your organization.
This refers to how attractive your brand is to candidates. It can be measured by how many candidates you’re able to attract and how skilled and competent they are.
When you see your awareness metrics rising, you should expect to naturally start attracting more talent.
Here, we can measure two factors: applicant quantity and applicant quality.
Applicant quantity is fairly straightforward to measure and includes recording the number of applicants you receive per week or month, responses per job opening, and the percentage of candidates who respond positively after being directly approached by your recruiters.
You may also want to ask yourself, is there a positive correlation between your brand ratings and the number of applications over time? And are there differences in the number of applications per recruitment channel?
Applicant quality can be measured by recording the number of candidates who pass the screening of their letter and resume. You could also measure whether the average scores of your assessments increase or not. Is it becoming increasingly harder to choose the best candidate out of the candidate pool?
This refers to how candidates experience your employer brand. It can be measured by monitoring what you currently do well and where you can improve. As your brand awareness increases, so will expectations. That’s why it’s essential that you continue to improve how people experience your brand.
Employer review sites like Glassdoor, CareerBliss, Comparably, Indeed, and Simply Hired are a minefield for obtaining overall ratings of your company. You will also gain insights into more specific ratings on culture and leadership. You can learn a lot from balanced employee reviews discussing both the good and bad points of your EVP, as well as reviews from applicants discussing your hiring process. Regularly collecting data from these sites will help you monitor your employer brand experience.
Employee referrals are another great metric to gauge the strength of your employee brand. If your employees are happy to recommend your company to their personal network, this can significantly strengthen your brand.
7. Determine the right channels and formats to promote your employer brand
To build a successful employer brand, you want to be targeting as many relevant channels as possible to communicate your message. This includes your careers page, social media channels like Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, or even TikTok, paid ads, videos, blog posts, podcasts, photos, and other forms. The channels you’ll invest in depend on your target audience and ideal candidate persona.
Likewise, it’s crucial that everything you post and share is high quality. The content should truly reflect your brand in the way you want it to be perceived.
For example, if you want to use videos on your social media channels, you can use phone video editing apps that allow your team to create engaging videos in a short amount of time.
8. Showcase your company values and vision
The key to a powerful employer brand is to remain consistent in your messaging and communication. Ensure you showcase what your values and vision are.
If you are clear on your vision as an organization, it will be easier for you to communicate this through your official social media channels. Your employees can then draw inspiration from these to create original content, which ensures consistency. Without this clear vision, your messaging will be diluted and unclear.
Your values, employer brand, and business goals should all be in alignment.
9. Be transparent
If you aim to build real trust and loyalty with your audience, then transparency is vital. So even if you’re not currently where you want to be with your diversity & inclusion initiatives yet, be honest about this. Explain the steps you’re taking to get there.
Similarly, during the recruiting process, be clear about who you are, the position(s) you’re recruiting for, and whom you’re looking for.
10. Foster employee ambassadors
Did you know that candidates trust employees three times more than employers to gain an accurate picture of what it’s like working at an organization?
It’s clear that your existing employees form a large part of your employer brand. In fact, they can be key in building your desired perception and attracting the right people to your organization.
Strong internal communication around your employer branding strategy like internal newsletters, meetings, and other forms of communication can help to ensure your employees are on the same page.
Once they’re clear on your mission and goals, let them take the lead by sharing their posts and content on your various channels. Guide them, but let them be authentic because content that is created with authenticity shines through.
Conduct employee interviews or obtain employee testimonials that you can share on your website. Encourage employees to join in on social media every time your organization hosts a giveaway or does something a little out of the box and worth celebrating.
11. Monitor how you’re doing
Perhaps the most critical part of metrics is ensuring that you have a plan from the start. This means you’re fully equipped to collect and analyze the data you require.
It’s important to know before you begin what data you want to track, how you will collect it, analyze it, and then report your findings to leaders and stakeholders. Do you want to focus on awareness, attraction, or experience?
If you’re a medium to large-sized business, you will likely already have access to tools and resources to help you with all of the above. For example, your ATS (applicant tracking software), Google Analytics, and your finance team will all be able to provide you with key metrics and ways to monitor them.
12. Fine-tune your strategy
As you track your progress, you can see what’s working and what’s not. It enables you to pivot your approach or redistribute your resources accordingly.
For example, maybe your Instagram page is getting much engagement, but your Facebook page is not. You may decide to invest more time and money into your Instagram account or explore why your Facebook channel is underperforming and how you can improve it.
Routinely tracking, measuring, and analyzing is the best way to see how successful your employer brand strategy is and will make the process simpler in the long run.
If your current strategy is not meeting your organization’s needs, then it may be time to fine-tune your plan. And when you reach all your goals, be sure to set new ones and continue this cycle.
Although this process won’t yield results overnight, there’s no quick fix when it comes to boosting your employer brand. So continue to test, measure and repeat.
Your employer brand is a valuable tool: Start building it today
Developing and building a successful employer branding strategy is a brilliant way to increase awareness of your organization and attract top talent. Over time, you will earn a glowing reputation for being a sought-after company that people actively want to work for, with proud brand ambassadors.
If you haven’t yet devoted time and resources to building your employer brand, there’s no better time than to begin today.