Employer branding – would you want to work for you?

employer branding - Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

You may not have heard the term employer branding before, but the company offering from employers has never been under more scrutiny, not least because the pandemic has changed people’s outlooks and expectations of the workplace.

We talk about brand behaviour, valued partnerships and hitting the right notes with our consumers and so on, but Curious MD Nikki Cunningham asks – have you got your own house in order when it comes to making your own staff feel valued and proud to work in your company?

Nikki Cunningham, Curious MD

As we emerge from the “shelter where you are” mentality that characterised the first year of Covid-19, people are reflecting on their experiences, with many who may not have previously considered changing jobs now doing so. 

Everything is up for grabs. And, with some industries experiencing a skills shortage, potential employees have the confidence to be discerning about their future employers. 

Whether it’s their attitude to flexible working, their commitment to creating equality, or the existence (or not) of honourable principles, prospective and existing employees are simply demanding more.

Because of this, culture and values have become increasingly important – employees want to work for companies with a social purpose which aligns with their own. 

Employer branding

Companies who stand for something that resonates with the individuals who work there. 

The magnitude of a global pandemic is naturally a time when people might be moved to make major life decisions, wondering if they should be doing something more ‘meaningful’ or at least working for a company whose brand they admire.

While the success of most consumer-facing companies relies on their ability to promote their brand externally, there is an often-overlooked need for those businesses to look within themselves and ensure that their internal brand is shipshape.

And today, with a recruitment crisis affecting such a broad range of sectors, there has never been a more urgent need for leaders to get their own branding in order so they can retain, and attract, the very best talent.

So, what is an employer brand and why do companies need one?

An employer brand refers to how a business approaches all aspects of employment. Not just how they talk about it, but how they live it.

It goes beyond jumping on trends and ticking boxes. It’s about setting out a larger, long-term philosophy encompassing their attitude and approach to everything work-related, from recruitment to progression and everything in between. Why you join a company and why you stay there.

In short, an employer brand is exactly that – what a brand means to employees, present and future.

Why is it important for businesses to have a clearly defined employer brand?

1. It informs how you act

Defining their employer brand gives companies a chance to reset how they think about employment – to reassess their priorities and approach and make changes to bring their practices in line with their philosophy. 

The brands who came out on top during the pandemic were those who knew exactly how they should respond, based on their ethos and what they believed in.

Having defined values makes it easier for companies to know how best to respond to situations as they arise. 

It not only acts as a handy guide to refer to for both management and employees, but it helps keep the business accountable.

2. It reduces hiring costs

A candidate’s perception of a brand forms before they have applied for a role. 

By clearly outlining their values and attitudes and sharing them publicly, a business will naturally attract like-minded people who are more likely to prove a successful addition to the team. 

This helps reduce costs associated with the recruitment process as candidates seek out brands they want to work for.

3. It keeps hold of your key people

Not only does an employer brand help to attract talent, but it also plays a huge factor in retaining staff you don’t want to lose. 

In fact, turnover can be significantly reduced – by as much as 28% according to this study.

By investing in employee experience and development, companies create a better environment for employees who are therefore more likely to stay with the company.

Where do you start?

● The key thing to remember is that an employer brand is not something to cobble together without any planning. Knowing what is right for your business requires a careful approach – it’s absolutely crucial that you can live by the brand you have designed.

● Authenticity should be central to the process. Work out what influences your decisions, what is important to you and your core purpose and consult with your teams – they are the most important element of your brand. It’s likely that the clues are all there, it just needs to be brought to the surface and then brought to life.

● Your employer brand should be guided by the existing personality of your external brand in order to keep consistency and reinforce your overall message. Think about the different opportunities you have within your existing brand and you’ll hopefully find plenty to work with. Once you have that figured out, you can apply creativity to bring it to life.

Key Takeaways

It’s a fundamental requirement that an employer brand marries up entirely with its outward facing brand. To achieve that crucial authenticity, a brand must ensure that whatever is communicated outwardly is reflected internally – and vice versa.

Now is a crucial time for employers – recruitment is proving tricky in most sectors, and many employees are looking for change after a challenging 18 months, so businesses who have already nailed their employer brand will have a significant advantage.

A strong employer brand makes business sense. Creating a culture that employees can buy into and that values them will create an environment they want to stay part of.

A clearly thought-out employer brand can make all the difference.