I love a good buzz word. Or in this case, buzz topic: employer branding. It’s such a fluffy term and has sooooo many different things attached to it. So of course, it’s something I’m interested in.
I think employer branding is something businesses realise is hugely important, but for many is still a bit of an unknown quantity. We know that our brands play a significant part in our business success and that our employees are the embodiment of our brands. So, attracting and retaining the right employees is therefore hugely important and that’s where your employer brand comes into play.
Your employer brand has nothing to do with what you’re selling
Your employer brand is the perception of what it is like to work inside your business. I once took a role at an organisation that honestly sounded like the most boring place on earth. When the recruiter called me about it I was pretty nonplussed. But she assured me that this organisation had an amazing culture and that I would love it. I went along to the interview cautiously optimistic but expecting a dry, stale environment, and I could not have been more wrong if I tried. Sure, what this company did wasn’t setting my world on fire, but colour me surprised if it wasn’t one of the best places I’ve ever worked!
You see, an employer brand is not about what a business sells, it’s about the experiences its employees have at work. It’s about how your business as a potential place of employment is perceived externally.
Culture is hugely important
Your company culture is the biggest influencer of your employee brand. Sir Richard Branson had it right when he said, “Put your employees first, your customers second and your shareholders third.” Happy, fulfilled employees give excellent service. They also tell people about their great work experiences and that is the gold that builds a strong employer brand.
If you ask people on the street what they value most about a place of employment, I reckon the majority would say something about the culture and the people they work with. Broken cultures breed fear, anger, dissatisfaction, indifference, Chinese whispers and all manner of other negative behaviours. And believe me, when a company’s culture is bad, the world hears about it.
The formula is quite simple really:
And that boils down to a profitable business that grows.
So, let’s talk a bit about how you create a strong employer brand
Well the first step is to have an employer brand strategy. It’s just as important as your brand strategy and should articulate things like culture, staff engagement, positioning, leadership vision, management practices and processes. It should identify the profiles of the types of employees you want and a clear path to attracting and retaining these people.
And in case you’re wondering why a marketer is writing a blog on something that has such a strong HR theme, it’s because your employer brand is as much about marketing and communications (internally and externally) as it is about HR.
It goes without saying that your company culture should be something your business invests in. Culture doesn’t happen on its own. Like most things, it needs time and effort. But man alive, if you create an environment with a strong and positive culture it makes a different to every aspect of your business.
Employer brands also don’t happen on their own. You need someone to focus on activities that will help grow and elevate your employer brand. And there are many different channels you can use; social media, blog, video and web to name a few. Your employees will be your biggest advocates and encouraging them to use their voices is one of the best tools available to build an employer brand profile.
So one last piece of advice about employer branding – don’t be afraid of it. If you’re doing everything right and working to create a rewarding environment for your employees, then you’re most certainly on the right track.