It’s time to add another chapter to your company’s Brand Bible: Your employer brand strategy.
In the age of the Great Resignation, the Great Attrition and Glassdoor, it’s never been more important for organizations to have the kind of employer brand strategy that will attract the best and brightest talent to your company. It’s a chance for you to shape your reputation as an employer, and positively influence how prospective hires see you–while boosting morale and pride among the folks who are already on your team.
After all, according to a new McKinsey and Co. report, 40% of employees are thinking about quitting their current job within the next three to six months – a statistic to make any sensible company laser focus on both their hiring and retention practices ASAP. An essential part of that work is developing an employer brand strategy that will enable your business to attract the best talent in this unprecedented, highly competitive hiring market.
In this blog, we’re going to cover how to create a stand-out employer branding strategy that your leadership team will thank you for, and how to bring the right people to your organization to push it forward into a bright future.
Why it’s time to update your employer brand strategy
The first step to building a successful employer brand strategy is ensuring your senior leadership team understands the value and impact. That’s because the world of work has changed dramatically since 2019. The pandemic, which created seismic shifts in so many areas of life, has changed many peoples’ relationship to their job, and caused a major reassessment of what they want out of it – and what they won’t put up with anymore.
When it comes to choosing their next opportunity, employees are much more discerning (and have more negotiating power over things like remote-only working, and compensation). This is thanks to an historically tight job market where, even with the possibility of a recession looming, there are two open jobs for every unemployed worker.
This means employers have an unprecedented amount of competition for the best talent, made trickier when many of the perks that used to work(like foosball tables and free food in the office) no longer have the allure they once did. We’re in an era where many workers are prioritizing other things – such as the flexibility of WFH anda better work/life balance – over the rat race that was normalized.
What this all adds up to is the need to ensure that your company stands out (and appeals to) a candidate pool that has more choice and is more empowered than ever before. That’s where your employer brand comes in.
Start with what you’ve got for employer brand
The first step to creating your employer brand strategy is to understand the current experience. Unless you’re a brand new start-up, you already have a reputation as an employer, whether you’ve actively cultivated it or not. It’s in the word-of-mouth commentary your ex-employees might give to a friend who’s considering applying, or in the reviews that are left on your company’s Glassdoor page. That’s why it’s important to start there with an “audit” of what’s being said about you right now. Read what’s being said online, go through exit interviews, review employee engagement surveys, and talk to recruiters about any feedback they’ve gotten when trying to hire for roles at your organization.
Next, spend time in focus groups with employees across various geographies, functions, and stages in their career and life. Learn from them what makes you a distinctly great place to work, and what they believe causes talent to leave. Speak to leadership to gain a clear picture of what the future state of the organization will mean to the employee experience, pride, and belonging. This will ensure your employee value proposition (EVP) is not only reflective of today’s work landscape, but also provides an aspirational direction for the future state of the organization. Talent is looking to learn where you are at present AND what direction you are heading.
Finally, we advise taking a broad look at the external talent market, also known as the people you are looking to recruit in the coming year. Learn how they perceive your employer brand versus competitors and what workplace experiences and attributes are most important to them as job seekers. In aggregate, all of this data will help you paint a clear picture of where your employer brand stands today: the good, the bad, and the “no one’s ever heard of us” – and provide a baseline to build on.
Craft your employer brand story
Now that you know what you’re working with, it’s time to start writing your employer brand story. Approach this exercise in the same way you’d approach any other branding exercise or marketing launch:
- What’s your company’s employee value proposition?
- How do you want your employer brand to make people feel?
- How can you make sure you’re memorable and stand out in a sea of other employers?
Another useful exercise is picturing the ideal person you’re trying to attract, and shaping a narrative that will speak to those values, while still being authentic to the core values of your company. If you get it right, these should match without any effort. If you’re a company that genuinely values and strives to create work/life balance, for example, it should be easy to create a brand story that will speak to someone who is looking for that very thing.
Once you go through this process, likely over the course of a few months, you’ll surface a ‘heat map’ that’ll help you solidify the three or four pillars that differentiate you from your competitors. These pillars are the things that matter most to your talent pool and allow you to position what makes your organization unique; this is the employer brand story that you lean into.
Every company’s brand story will be different, but it should always be authentic. There’s no use in talking a good game, and then when employees actually start they find the reality is very different than they were advertised. It’s a recipe for high turnover, which is the last thing anyone needs in this job market.
Set measurable goals around your employer brand
Once your employee value proposition pillars are set in stone, it’s time to make them a firm commitment that you repeat and stick to. These pillars are the foundation of all employer brand storytelling going forward. The aim is to make your employer brand top of mind and stickier in the market.
Your chosen tagline and EVP pillars can (and should) be reflected in all communications. Whether it’s your content, messaging, leadership, or tone of voice, the pillars should be at the root. Your employer brand story should also be told through channels and people that aren’t attached to the very top of the company. If only your executive team is openly talking about your employer brand, and individual contributors don’t feel called to fill the role of an ambassador, in whatever capacity they see fit, then the story loses its momentum and authenticity for external audiences.
Your employer brand strategy needs to go beyond being just a nice slide deck. It’s important to attach actionable goals to this initiative, and create measurable metrics for success. Decide on your KPIs: more traffic to your careers portal, a certain percentage of high quality applicants per vacant role, more positive engagement with your corporate LinkedIn content, creating a thought-leadership editorial channel.Give your teams concrete next steps for how you’re going to achieve them together.
In summary: You can’t afford to not have an employer brand strategy
In today’s job market, companies need a strong, positive employer brand to be attractive to the kind of talent that will propel their business forward. This isn’t just a good exercise to attract the best, brightest talent, or another set of buzzwords to go alongside your company motto. Having a strong employer brand will help your current employees feel proud of their workplace, which is great for morale and getting those peer referrals.
By going through this process, you’ll learn what gaps you need to fill, and how you’re empowering your employees to share their stories and experience as part of your organization. By constantly reiterating your EVP pillars internally and externally, you’ll encourage them to be a natural part of the conversations that employees have.
A strong employer brand is a north star that fuels growth in the company, and potentially attracts customers and investors who are drawn to the kind of company culture you’re building. This is a win that extends far beyond filling an open position.
Need help building a strong employer brand strategy? Reach out to experienced employer brand consultants today!
Marketing & Content Manager
Blu Ivy Group
Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands and high-performance cultures.
From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future.
For inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.