Employment Branding: Using Your Reputation to Attract and Retain

In 2014, 93% of CEOs said they recognized the need to change their strategy for retaining and attracting talent, and 63% of CEOs said that the availability of skills was a serious concern (an increase of 5% from 2013) (PwC study). In order to confront these issues in a competitive talent market, HR professionals need to construct a strong employment brand with a reputation as a desirable work environment.

To be an employer of choice (where your company’s most talented employees choose to remain for an extended period of time, applicants are eager to work for you, and you receive unsolicited resumes) your company would benefit from a cohesive plan to display your organizations’ most attractive attributes, and promote them to the appropriate audience.

Where to Start

Three goals of employment branding are: 1) to help employees internalize a company’s values, 2) to retain top tier talent, and 3) to achieve a reputation as an employer of choice for highly desirable candidates. To obtain these goals, be authentic, trustworthy, and distinct, but most importantly, follow through.

Research: Start by understanding the current perceptions and opinions about your organization through the lens of your internal employees. One way to achieve that would be to conduct an internal survey in order to have an accurate initial reference point for your current brand. Topics to consider surveying include knowledge of company mission and values; best and worst attributes of the organization; and what aspects incentivize your employees to stay. Great ideas come from anywhere, so don’t forget to leave a comment section.

Additionally, look to social media for honest opinions about your organization from current and former employees. Here is some advice current job seekers are finding online on how to discern a company’s culture. Remember that your current and former employees are ambassadors of your brand and creates the buzz around your organization.

Also important is to determine what your future employees are looking for in their employer. Here are some of the benefits that top employers of choice are offering their employees, but ultimately this is why people stay.

How to Plan

Idea development: Hold a series of strategy meetings with top executives to incorporate all departments’ interests in the brand.  In a study by Universum, 60% of CEOs felt that they were the owner and main influence behind the employer brand, compared to only 32% believing that HR owns it. With very similar numbers, 58% of HR managers felt that HR owns the brand, and 26% believe CEOs own it. With this disconnect between controlling brand influences, collaboration is essential in generating a seamless brand image that will result in a consistent representation to potential employees, as well as more tenured staff.

When collaborating, examine your research. Is there a disconnect between your company values, and your employee’s perception? If so, determine what you need to change or enhance to make abstract ideas into actionable values. Here is some additional advice on this topic. Keep in mind that transparency is key to any successful employer brand. If your company portrays itself in an unrealistic light, it will generate more turnover in the future due to dissatisfaction and unkept promises.

Now let’s focus outside of the organization. What does your value system, mission, and benefits say about your organization to potential employees? Will that message attract top tier talent consistently across different departments? If not, it is time to reevaluate and augment or overhaul your culture. Most importantly, remember that what you advertise has to be consistent with what you deliver.

How to Take Action

Relaunch:  Depending on the extent of the changes you want to enact on your internal brand, it may be necessary to have a brand relaunch with your current staff. As brand ambassadors for you organization, it is imperative that your employees have understanding, buy-in, and measurable and consistent brand messaging.

Brand Promotion: To attract top talent, display your brand elements through the mediums over which you have direct control: digital, written, and in-person interaction. Digital communication is transpired through your website, social media, and online advertising. Written materials can include emails, the employee handbook, onboarding processes, and office communication. In-person interactions can be more difficult to see, but can be the most important aspect to your brand strategy. Are your executives and employees living your values in their interactions with each other and your customers? Evidence of this can be witnessed in everything from phone calls, interviewing techniques, and even your office design.

To attract the best candidates your company website should be a key building block to your brand. Many top organization’s website include videos of current employees, pictures of the office environment and events, description of relevant perks and benefits, company value statements, and awards and accomplishments.

Determine which (if any) additional platforms are the best for additional paid brand promotion: job boards, industry newsletters and websites, colleges, and social media sites are all options for expansion.

Humanize: Throughout these various interactions with your current and potential employees, remember to humanize your brand. Breathe life into benefits and the office culture by telling stories. Authentic and genuine interactions will enable your brand to reach an elevated status that attracts top tiered talent.

Additionally, remember to maintain a consistent message. A brand is only recognizable and trustworthy when it is strong and cohesive.

Awards: Gaining external attention of your employer brand is a major step towards being acknowledged as an employer of choice. This can occur through awards, press, positive personal reviews, and overall organization buzz.

Analyze: It is important to reevaluate the effectiveness of your employment brand to continuously improve perceptions about your organization. What works in this market might not work in the next. Create a timeline to repeat the research process to ensure an accurate evolution as a brand.

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Interested in learning more?

Contact Jennifer Pearce at Jennifer@citystaffdc.com or (202) 861-4200