10 Employer Branding Success Factors to Embrace
When you set out to build a strong employer brand, you may feel overwhelmed by everything it involves. Here, it gets easier with these ten key success factors. These ten factors serve as a framework for the more detailed activities you’ll be conducting. Structure your activities around this framework, and everything else should fall neatly in place.
Getting your leadership team’s buy-in for your employer branding strategy
Effective employer branding starts at the top. The executive team needs to be onboard to communicate in words and actions that delivering a positive employment experience and building a strong employer brand reputation are critically important to the success of the business. Convincing the leadership team that employer branding is worth the investment should be fairly easy. Just focus their attention on the following key points:
- Talent is key to achieving business objectives.
- Part of being a market leader is being the employer everyone wants to work for.
- A strong employer brand boosts productivity while reducing costs.
Bridge the gap between HR and marketing with employer branding
Employer branding requires the expertise and commitment of both HR and marketing to succeed. Organizations that lead the field in employer branding tend to be the ones that have built the strongest bridges between these two functions.
Unfortunately, if your organization is new to employer branding, marketing and HR may operate as entirely separate entities, and they may not recognize the need or value of working together. If you’re heading up the employer branding initiative, you may need to serve as the liaison between HR and marketing to encourage and facilitate communication and collaboration. In addition, you must get the leadership team involved to encourage and promote the collaboration necessary to build a strong employer brand.
Building a strong relationship between HR/recruiting and marketing should be a focus of your early employer branding efforts.
Use employer branding to size up your company’s talent needs
The purpose of employer branding is to attract, engage, and retain the talent needed for the company to meet its business goals and objectives, so early in the process, you need to identify and clearly describe the type of talent your company needs. At a bare minimum, employees are needed to fill the various positions in the company — people who have the knowledge and expertise required for each position. Beyond that, you want people in your organization with the right character, values, and attitude, both to do the job and to reinforce the desired culture within your organization.
Gather input from your organization’s leadership team and from line managers regarding the type of talent needed to meet the company’s business goals and objectives. When you can clearly envision the talent you need to attract, you can begin to size up your audience to maximize reach and engagement; you can find out where they learn about opportunities in their field (media usage) and what they look for in a company and in the work they do (engagement hooks).
Define a clear and compelling employer value proposition
An effective employer value proposition (EVP) defines the key qualities you most want to be associated with as an employer; it encapsulates the give and get of the employment deal and serves to differentiate your company from its competition. Think of it as the guiding star for all your employer branding and recruitment marketing campaigns and activities. To optimize impact, whatever you do to promote your employer brand should align with the EVP.
To define a clear and compelling EVP, take the following steps:
- Conduct brainstorming sessions to gather input from the executive leadership team, management, HR, recent hires, and other key stakeholders.
- Pare down the list of EVP ingredients generated in Step 1 to a list of no more than five key ingredients.
- Based on the list of brand pillars, write an overarching positioning statement that conveys the essence of your organization as an employer — what makes it a distinctively great place to work.
The actual writing of the EVP (Step 3) is better suited to an individual or a Lennon and McCartney duo, to avoid the deadening effect of committee compromise. Steps 1 and 2 provide the steak, but Step 3 should ultimately provide the sizzle.
Build flexibility into the employer branding framework
Consistency improves the impact of the employer brand, but your brand framework shouldn’t be too rigid. It should contain enough flexibility to adapt your brand pitch to the more specific interests of different target groups. Think of your EVP as a distinctive “brand chord,” with each brand pillar representing a separate note that can be played louder or softer, and more or less frequently, depending on its local importance.
For example, if your EVP stresses both team spirit and career mobility, your local research and experience may indicate which of these two elements is more relevant and attractive within the local context, in which case the local business unit should make that element more prominent in its employer branding efforts.
Get current employees onboard first
Your current and former employees can be your strongest brand advocates or detractors. What they say about your company as an employer and how they interact with prospects outside the company can have a tremendous impact on your company’s reputation as an employer. Before ramping up your marketing efforts to promote your employer brand, make sure you’re delivering on the promise to your current employees and that they’re clear about the role they can play in promoting the employer brand.
Get employees involved. Employees can write their own profiles, participate in videos, share information about your organization through their social accounts, engage with prospects, and refer highly qualified candidates. By engaging employees in your recruitment and branding efforts, you can significantly improve the reach and impact of your employer brand.
Make the most of social media in your employer branding strategy
Whether your company is a distinctively great or a distinctively lousy place to work, people will soon discover the truth through social media. Work on building a strong social media presence across a range of the most popular social media channels. Most leading companies now leverage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and (increasingly) Glassdoor and Instagram. Make sure you post content across these channels on a regular basis. And don’t just post content; engage with prospects by responding to comments and playing an active role in relevant communities.
Social media can be a valuable tool for facilitating referrals. Prior to applying for a position, prospects may look up your company on LinkedIn to see whether they have any inside connections. If they have a connection, they can get in contact with that person to find out more about what it’s really like to work at the company, find out whether they’re likely to be a good fit, and maybe even ask their contact to recommend them for a particular position.
Keep an eye on your competition
If another organization is constantly outcompeting you for the talent you need, find out what it’s doing and then take one or more of the following actions:
- Do it more.
- Do it differently.
The goal is to create signature brand experiences — an employee experience that sets your organization apart from its talent competitors.
Get your employer brand into the right shape for talent
Before you set out to market your company as a great place to work, it needs to be a great place to work; otherwise, you’ll run into credibility issues. You don’t need to become a union rep, but you do need to make sure that your company is delivering on its end of the give-and-get deal — that your company is living up to the EVP it espouses.
Leadership needs to model the character and behavior conveyed in the EVP, and the desired behaviors must be consistently encouraged and rewarded. For example, if your company promotes itself as a creative workplace where employee input is valued, employees must be consistently encouraged and rewarded to think creatively and share their ideas. Any manager who operates with a “my way or the highway” mind-set needs to be brought into line.
Invest in metrics for employer branding success
Because you have so many ways to promote your employer brand and enhance the employer brand experience, you need to measure what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s working most and least effectively, so you can decide what’s having the most impact and improve over time.
Most social media or career platforms have built-in analytics that enable you to track engagement with your profile and the content you post. If you use external social media tools, such as Hootsuite or Buffer, you have access to additional analytics. You should also use tools such as Google Analytics to track activity on your career site and related websites to gain insight into your employer branding efforts.
Some of the recruitment marketing metrics you’ll want to understand include the following:
- Source of applicant or new hire
- Source of application influence
- Social account follower growth
- Social post engagement
To evaluate the longer-term impact of your activities on employer brand reputation and experience, invest in internal and external research to measure the following:
- External brand affinity
- External brand image
- Quality of hire
- Internal engagement
- Internal brand experience