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Inside/Out Company Branding

By Tom Weber

September 12, 2017

Successful company “social branding” captures not just a job or career, but also a lifestyle, a cause, and a higher purpose. To do that successfully, the employer needs to truly understand what its very best employees need and want, and then make a strong emotional connection to link those things to its own mission, vision, and culture. The company’s products or services must be explored in detail. Why are they important? How are employees recognized for accomplishments by leadership, their boss, and their peers? How can employees contribute to the success of the organization’s big picture? Their work environment, culture, job growth, and career opportunities? Work-life balance; compensation and benefits; opportunities to receive training, coaching, and mentoring are all a part of the story to be told. Your employees are part of your social branding each and every day; they are telling your story right now! Is it the one you would prefer to be told about your company?

Read on if you are questioning the story being told about your company or if you want to script a better one:

  • According to a 2016 Glassdoor U.S. Site Survey, 69 percent of active job seekers are more likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand.
  • Additionally, a survey put out by Monster the same year found that 75 percent of employees believe work should have a greater meaning than simply earning a paycheck.
  • CEOs are now saying that one of their biggest concerns is that they won’t have the people and, in particular, the skills and knowledge they need for their businesses to accomplish what they want to accomplish in 2017 and beyond.
  • Millennials have a different viewpoint on work and the relationship they should have with work. Millennials are much more in tune with how a company’s culture aligns with their core values and beliefs. This viewpoint is why millennials have high expectations for what they want out of a work experience, and that is why they are willing to change jobs. That’s why millennials have a reputation for job-hopping.
  • According to Gallup, millennials are most willing to act on better opportunities. Thirty-six percent report they will look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months if the job market improves, compared with 21 percent of nonmillennials, who say the same.
  • Eleven percent of job seekers said they would decline a job offer from an employer with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed, according to Glassdoor.

Keeping in mind the statistics above, it’s important to have a strong employer brand in place because it controls—and manages—your reputation. The internet has provided a transparency that we’ve never had before. Job candidates can view company career pages on websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and Facebook to find reviews and comments posted about the business.

If your company is having a hard time attracting new talent or employee turnover is a concern, that’s a good indicator it may be time to introduce an employer brand—or overhaul your current employer brand—if the best candidates are turning down job offers from your company. An internet search says little about what it’s like to work at your company. Employees feel unappreciated and don’t see how they are making an impact. Current employees are leaving your company for “greener pastures.” Employees complain about lack of communication, unclear direction, and priorities. The company brand doesn’t align with the “true” work experience. Employees don’t appreciate the benefits and perks offered by your company. An internet search turns up negative comments about working at your company. Qualified candidates are not applying to your job postings.

If your company is having a hard time attracting new talent, or employee turnover is a concern, that’s a good indicator it may be time to introduce an employer brand.

Your employer brand should target the people you want to hire. Think Harley Davidson: It’s not a bike—it’s a lifestyle. You should also make sure prospective employees can easily find your job postings and that the job description is accurate and consistent. Candidates need to experience the brand during your interview process. Highlighting benefits and career opportunities on a piece of paper isn’t enough. They need to live it with every visit, email, call, and text during the interview process. People want to get an authentic feeling of what it’s like to work at a company by hearing from current employees, seeing what the culture is like, and understanding what reward and recognition programs are offered.

Side note: A bad employer brand is worse than no brand recognition at all. If a Google search brings your prospective employees to a slew of poor reviews on Glassdoor from current and former employees, your company has a lot of work to do to repair its image. One way you can stay on top of what’s being said about your company is to set up Google Alerts.

Recognizing employees should be fun, dynamic, and highly visible to your teams. Frequent and immediate rewards through an employee recognition program have the most impact on engaging employees and reinforcing the right behaviors to influence business results—and increase employee loyalty. In fact, 75 percent of employees recently surveyed by BambooHR who were recognized by their managers once a month reported being satisfied with their job.

Signs Your Company Needs an Employer Brand

  • Current employees are leaving your company for “greener pastures.” With a strong employer brand, your company will have an easier time not just attracting, but also retaining top-tier talent, thereby preventing a mass exodus. In short, you need an employer brand strategy to fight fire with fire.
  • Employees don’t appreciate the benefits and perks offered by your company. Your company may be shelling out millions of dollars in compensation, incentives, and employee benefits, as well as offering cool and unique perks. But if those programs aren’t continually put in front of your people, with dollar values attached, they are soon forgotten and not appreciated. Your financial investment is not getting its full ROI. Employees need to be shown what’s in it for them early on and often.
  • Staff complains about lack of communication, unclear direction, and priorities. Unless you’re hiring mind readers, employees need information, clarity, and a purpose spelled out for them. And they need to hear it, see it, and experience it regularly. If they don’t get this from management communications and it’s not built into the employer brand, they will be uninformed, less engaged, and even misguided.
  • The company brand doesn’t align with the “true” work experience. Your employer brand is not just a slogan or a statement; it needs to reflect reality and have a legitimate connection with your company brand. When there’s inconsistency, it’s definitely noticeable. It feels disingenuous, leading to lack of clarity, distrust, and disengagement.

A Two-Pronged Approach

One tool employers can use to determine their employees’ satisfaction and how they can align their employer brand strategy with each employee’s needs is an employee engagement survey. The most useful surveys will reveal not only what your company does well, but what matters most to employees in terms of their engagement and intent to stay.

After carefully examining your employees’ wants and needs, it’s time to begin your research phase. The two-pronged approach to implementing a sound employer-brand strategy starts with doing the research and ends with communicating that research to the entire team. Let’s break it down.

Step 1: Research Your Competition. When defining an employer brand, it’s critical that whoever owns the project understands the importance of research and how it should drive the development of the brand strategy. For example, your employer brand should somehow distinguish your company from others within the competitive landscape. One way to ensure that this is the case is to size up your competition. See what your competitors are doing to attract talent, and assess whether it’s working by looking on websites such as Glassdoor for insights on employee happiness. It’s also important for human resources to understand the particular pain points of the various people within the organization so they can communicate with each one of them effectively. This is a key step in getting employee buy-in. It’s also an important part of the research you should be conducting when planning and mapping out your employer brand strategy.

Step 2: Communication. It’s also crucial that your employees are part of the employer branding strategy conversation, as they will be participating in the program. Additionally, they will be communicating with new hires and prospective employees via word-of-mouth avenues, such as Facebook, Glassdoor, and Indeed. From the time the idea of having an employer brand starts being floated around—or that improvements are being made—let your employees in on the conversation. Tell them that the initiative is happening, and explain to them why it’s happening. You also want to make sure you include them in your research and update them on your findings throughout the entire process. Roll out the employer brand internally before announcing it externally; this will turn your employees into proud ambassadors for your branding effort. When your employees feel like they’re part of the company’s larger goals, you’re already halfway there when it comes to getting their buy-in.

Making the Connection

In a world where information about what it’s like to work for a company is just a Google search away, employer branding will make a difference in whether or not your company attracts top-quality talent. When you operate in a knowledge economy, you need good, talented people for your business strategy to succeed. If you’re facing a shortage or fierce competition for the best and the brightest, that’s really the simplest connection regarding the ties between employer branding and business outcomes. So many companies—if they want to expand or grow or become more profitable, or whatever it is they want to accomplish—don’t rely on the people who work there … How sad for all of them. Done right, a strong employer brand will result in attracting and retaining the talent your company needs to achieve its overarching business goals. It will also build a workplace and lifestyle that keeps your people engaged, challenged, rewarded, and contributing their best for the greater good of your most cherished asset—your clients!

width=150Tom Weber is folding carton technical advisor for AICC. He can be reached at