By Richard Mosley

Employer branding is the process of creating a distinctively great place to work and then promoting it to the talent whose knowledge and skills are needed by the organization to meet its business goals and objectives. Like consumer branding, employer branding involves less push and more pull — developing the kind of positive reputation that will help attract talented individuals when and where they’re needed.

Recognizing the benefits of employer branding

Some companies are reluctant to invest in employer branding, because the costs may seem steep in relation to the immediate returns. After all, to build a strong employer brand, you need to spend money on research and creative development and add to the workloads of already busy departments, including recruitment, human resources (HR), and marketing. Before you commit time, money, and other resources to employer branding, you and others in your organization naturally want to know “What’s in it for us?”

To spark the passion and drive needed to build and maintain a distinctively great employer brand, you need to answer that question for yourself and for everyone else in your organization, especially for those in leadership positions. Everyone involved needs to be aware of what’s at stake and the positive impact a strong employer brand can have on the success of the organization and everyone who’s a part of it.

Here are just a few areas where employer branding can positively impact an organization’s success:

  • Recruitment: Companies that have a strong employer brand attract larger numbers of qualified candidates, improving the quality of new hires while reducing the overall cost of recruitment.
  • Engagement: Employer branding involves creating an environment in which employees are fulfilled by their work and proud of the company they work for. Such a work environment drives engagement, and higher levels of engagement lead to higher levels of productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • Retention: A great workplace populated with highly talented and engaged employees is a place employees want to stay. In addition, a strong employer brand clarifies what people can expect from the organization before they apply. Companies with strong employer brands experience significantly lower attrition rates.
  • Competitive advantage: Employer branding enables you to build an all-star team with a roster of the most talented individuals in your industry. The collective intelligence, creativity, drive, and determination of highly qualified individuals enables you to gain and maintain a competitive advantage within your industry.

Stepping through the employer branding process/cycle

The approach to building a strong positive employer brand can be summed up in two steps:

  1. Make your organization a distinctively great place to work.
  2. Make sure the right talent knows how great you are.

Of course, the process is more involved than that, and it’s more cyclical than linear — a continual process of building brand momentum and making adjustments in response to an ever-changing business and workforce environment. A more detailed summation of the process/cycle looks more like this:

  1. Develop a clear understanding of your organization’s business objectives and the talent needed to meet those objectives.
  2. Evaluate your current employer brand image among potential recruits and the employer brand experience of your current employees.

    Identify how this compares with what your key target talent groups are looking for.

  3. Define your employer value proposition (EVP), the key ingredients that will make your organization a distinctively great place to work.

    An effective EVP describes your current reality, as well as realistic aspirations — the employer you want to be and be known as

  4. Build your employer brand framework, the creative elements that collectively capture the look and feel you want to convey and the emotion you want to evoke.
  5. Generate engaging, story-led content and employee experiences that bring your EVP to life in ways that resonate with the talent you’re trying to attract.
  6. Actively engage with prospects through selected channels, including your organization’s career website, social channels, job boards, and programmatic (automated ad placement driven by analytics).
  7. Measure your success to determine what’s working and what’s not, from your overall brand strategy down to individual recruitment marketing activities.
  8. Adjust your employer brand strategy and individual recruitment marketing activities, as needed, to improve results.
  9. After you’ve gone through the process once, building brand momentum becomes cyclical — shampoo, rinse, repeat.

A key step intentionally omitted from this process is getting everyone in the organization, especially leadership, involved in your employer branding efforts. Your C-level executives and managers need to embrace the importance of employer branding, encourage and facilitate collaboration, and commit resources to support your efforts. Various departments, including HR and marketing, will need to contribute their insights and expertise. Employees must help with content generation, engaging with prospects, and serving as brand advocates. Without a coordinated effort, your EVP will be DOA (dead on arrival).