How would your employees answer the following: “Describe the culture of your company?” Are they predictably varied answers? Perhaps more imperative, is it in line with what you hope they say?
Truthfully, many organizations find a gap between the culture descriptors employees’ use and what leadership and stakeholders would like them to say. If you executing this question exercise inside your own organization it will offer up a realistic picture of your current employer brand. The fact is you have an employer brand whether or not you’re actively driving its message.
You can (and should) guarantee your employer brand spreads a positive narrative by strategically prioritizing and defining it. Whether your role falls under the marketing suite or on the HR team, there’s a tangible interest in doing so. There’s now evidence of a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, as well as between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance. What’s more, those companies focusing on strengthening employee experience through employer brand efforts are seeing equally impressive results—in terms of retention, revenue and profitability.
Employer brands should be conversational, relatable and talked about often amongst your team. But if you don’t see your employer brand this way, it may be outdated, not applicable and not resonating. Every company has a story to tell—but you’ve got to put in the legwork to figure out yours. Here are some dos and don’ts you must consider before you start promoting your employer brand across all channels.
- DO establish, maintain and nurture a strong employer brand. A recent study found that 69% of candidates and 71% of employers rank employer brand strength is important or very important when a candidate is evaluating a job offer. Without one, your organization may not be failing to compete for top talent in today’s tight labor market. By publishing employer branding content internally, as well as externally, you reinforce positive messages about your organizational culture, and remind team members of the great environment that you’ve all created together, which further helps to retain your current employees and to offer a clear message to prospective team members on what a day or a career is like at your organization.
- DON’T forget to inject your core values, mission and vision into your brand campaign. Your values, mission and vision are unique descriptors of your culture. Infusing these elements reinforces the tone and image your organization wants to project and serves as the thread between all employee initiatives—both internally and externally.
- DO make sure your employer brand is reflective of what the employees actually think, feel and do. If you haven’t inquired lately, the time is right. The best employer brand messages are built AFTER conducting employee focus groups with questions designed to understand current perceptions, greatest opportunities and how employees describe the organizational culture. The richest dialogue (and unfiltered responses) will come when these conversations are facilitated by a third-party.
- DON’T limit the employer brand to just a one-off communication. Once you’ve developed your message and its supporting plan to create alignment, turn your focus to the activation and internalization of the message. Blanket your brand over all elements of the daily employee experience: computer backdrops, lock screens, employee handbooks, benefits documents, common space signage, hallway monitor screens, branded-swag, career sites and social media are great places to start. Keep in mind, this is about more than just internal employee communications (although those are important, too)—think about creative ways that you can unify employees using tactics like company events, integration with other employee initiatives, or enlisting the support of employee ambassadors to create excitement and reinforce the authenticity of your message.
- DO have your internal employer brand complement your external brand. A visual connection between the two brand strategies makes employees feel just as important as your customers. And customers who understand you also invest in your people may just get the validation they need that you are the right, trusted choice to meet their needs.
- DON’T boil the ocean. Develop a roadmap of the most critical and influential places (or people) to expand your employer brand and start there. Brands should be kept fresh—but that doesn’t mean constantly changing. Heineken is a great example of this showing story after story of workers’ lives, which helps keep content fresh and the company’s brand story alive in localized detail. It’s a mix of authenticity and behind-the-curtain advocacy that works well to breathe excitement into the Heineken name. Starting too big could confuse your audience (and give your team a headache as you attempt to implement) if you’re still testing messages, brand standards and delivery methods.
- DO keep a pulse on what employees are saying about your brand and how they speak about it if you already have one in place. Negative feedback? Talk to employees to see what isn’t working and then refine it. No buzz? This is the danger zone—negative buzz is better than a brand not worth talking about.
Your employer brand is gaining traction whether you’re actively addressing it, promoting it or trying to bury it. But don’t panic. Take time to learn more about how your organization's unique story makes it appealing to employees working with you today—and those you want to work with in the future. Once you do, you’ll be able to take an intentional, strategic approach to developing and executing your employer brand message.