Employer brand: a marketing buzzword?

How to maximise your employer brand, no matter what your business size

“Employer brand”. It’s a concept often discussed in HR and marketing departments these days. Its meaning, value – and cost – are the subject of many a recruitment blog. But what exactly is “employer brand” and why should smaller businesses care?

Here we look at why every employer has a brand, its importance to your recruitment success and how to go about communicating yours.

What is an employer brand, exactly?

An employer brand is basically who you are as a company, what you stand for, and what you’re like to work for. It’s an expression of your reputation, the benefits and rewards you give your staff, the culture of your workplace. It’s what sets you apart from the competition.

And what isn’t it? Well it isn’t a complex marketing exercise accessible only by big businesses. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Every business, of any size, has an employer brand.

Why it’s important

In a time when there is so much talk of a skills shortage, attracting the best talent to your company is about more than just the salary. Whether you are an owner-operated business or a global employer, your employer brand is the DNA of your company and a reason for people to work for you.

Ultimately, understanding your employer brand and communicating it simply and clearly to candidates and employees will pay you back in terms of attraction, recruitment and retention success.

Getting it right in six easy, accessible steps

1)            Work out who you are as a company

For many companies, particularly smaller companies without the big corporate machine behind them, the first challenge is defining their employer brand. To begin with, remind yourself of why your business started and what it means to you. Some points to get you thinking include:

  • What are the values of your business? What do you stand for?
  • What matters to you as a business? The essentials.
  • Who do you want to matter to? Your customers, for example.

By getting back to basics you’ll start to understand and create a point of difference that helps you stand out from the competition.  Simply put, this is the basis of your employer brand and all your communications should be an expression of it.

2)            Consult your employees

Remember that if anyone knows what it’s like to work for you, it’s your current employees! They joined your company and stay at your company for a reason, and should be your best advocates. They know what your biggest selling points are. Ignore them at your peril.

3)            Keep it simple

To keep your messaging authentic, keep it simple. Again, employees should be consulted, but you should gather overriding themes from their feedback, rather than trying to include granular detail. In your role as an employer, it is your job to amalgamate all opinions in to a cohesive vision that works across the business.

For example, if one employee mentions how easy it is to get holidays booked off, one mentions that they can take a half day in an emergency and one mentions they can have Wednesday afternoon off to pick up their children, this could be boiled down to “We offer flexible working patterns to address the needs of our employees.”

4)            Communicate!

So once you’ve understood your employer brand, it’s time to express it. Make sure that your employer brand message sits at the heart of your recruitment advertising, and is reflected in relevant areas when people visit your site. Social media is also a great way extending your employer brand to potential employees. Have fun with your content, share interesting thoughts regularly and show a bit of personality.  Focus on the things that represent your business best, including new starters, work anniversaries, team lunches; these all allow you to engage with a future candidate pool by giving them a view into your workplace.

5)            Keep your employees on side

Once you’ve consulted your employees, don’t ignore them. Your current employees will take your employer brand message out into the market. Remember, they are your biggest advocates and word of mouth is a powerful force. They give that invaluable third party endorsement to their peers that will trump anything you can say as an employer. An engaged workforce can be your biggest employer brand ambassador!

6)            Be consistent across all your communications

Whether you are a global brand or a local business, your current customers may well be your future employees. Make sure all communications about your employer brand and your consumer brand are aligned, no matter the size of your business.

If you work through these six steps, you’ll be well on your way to a strong employer brand, and with it the ability to attract, recruit and retain the very best talent.

Happy branding!

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