Employer branding may just be one of HR’s buzzed about topics. And it should be.
But let’s be honest, your employer brand message is everyone’s concern:
- HR wants to make sure they can share an employer brand that retains, engages and aligns your employees—current and prospective—by bringing your authentic story to life;
- Marketing wants to make sure the brand they created for customers is consistently aligned and supported internally; and
- Employees just want to work somewhere they can care about.
Help shift some of your brand dollars internally by showcasing how an employer brand can make a big difference on employee experience and ultimately customer experience.
What Does Best-In-Class Employer Branding Look Like?
In the recent past, our experts in the EX space have provided insights on why employer branding matters, quick tips to build an employer brand and shared samples of best-in-class brand work. While that’s a lot of brand strategy brainpower, we have yet to discuss how a first-rate employer brand affects the individual employee, and the positive experience felt when employer branding is well-executed.
Great, best-in-class, transformative employer brands align their strategy to tug on an employee’s heart strings at every phase of their journey—from hire to retire. An emotional connection transforms employees into advocates of your brand. You deserve great and you deserve advocates. So let’s dig in to what this looks like from the employee view point when done right.
A Tool to Attract & Recruit Talent
A potential employee is most interested in (and, perhaps, most worried about) whether your culture will fit them, doing extensive research (e.g., checking Glassdoor and other third-party review sites, talking with current and former employees, etc.) prior to ever submitting their application.
Because a consistent employer brand is found on your careers page, company website and social media, it’s easy for prospective employees to get an idea of what a day, a career and your culture might feel like when working for you. Your campaign earns bonus brand points by including current employees sharing your brand message which reinforces authenticity. Prospective employees can focus in on the match with your company core values, when employers consistently align interview questions to focus in on that fit.
Further drive the employer brand by creating a helpful and engaging onboarding experience that begins as soon as candidates accept your job offer.
According to research from Aberdeen, “Best-in-class companies are 82% more likely to implement a pre-boarding process between talent acquisition and onboarding.”
Prior to their first day (the awkward 2+ week period before starting that most will have), reach out with welcoming messages such as videos of current employees, an introduction to some of the social benefits you offer or relocation recommendations for places to live, sites to see or restaurants to frequent. You'll have their personal info, but make sure you find out how they prefer to be addressed. They may be William, but prefer Will or Bill (or loathe Willy)—ask, don’t assume.
Below are some things to take care of well before any offer of employment is made:
- Brand message on career page
- Company website "About Us" section
- Social media emphasis on employees
- Videos of current employees talking about your brand
- Culture questions embedded into interviews
- Onboarding welcome gifts
Onboarding Starts Early (& Thoroughly) to Build an Emotional Connection
Even with inspiring messaging in the recruitment phase, the first day jitters are inevitable. Luckily for your new hire, you continued your brand into onboarding. The promises made in the interview round came through in their first days.
- The first email in their inbox was from the CEO, with a welcome video thanking them for choosing to work at your company and reinforcing key culture messages. This video helps to humanize the executive team.
- Branded swag awaited them at their deck, reiterating the message in a branded notebook (complete with pages on core values and company), branded water bottle (they now carry around each day) and volunteer t-shirt (donned when representing your company in the community)
- Within hours of entering the doors, they met with their assigned ambassador (tenured employee in a different department) who now is an extra familiar face to the crowd and also a brand advocate. As part of the company tour, your ambassador brought the brand to life, sharing what it is and why it’s important to the electric energy you’ve created. The ambassador input set the stage for the formal onboarding that followed.
- Corporate and manager-led onboarding sessions aligned with the employer brand thanks to a branded manager box that housed welcome notes, onboarding check lists, conversation and communication templates.
- Employer brand assets were pushed to each new hire’s laptop screensaver and computer backdrop, as well as on the corporate intranet, monitor screens and office environmentals. These are constant reminders of the brand and culture, visible at every point of a normal day.
Enable Employees to Connect With Each Other & Your Organizational Goals
Based on research, the tenured group (especially with 1–2 years of employment) are a critical crew to keep aligned with corporate culture and yet, this is group is frequently forgotten. Until now.
- Now that you’ve aligned your employer brand to your internal recognition programs and corporate awards, employees celebrate their peers and are celebrated for their own performance in direct support of the employer brand, values and corporate mission.
- Tenured employees, having fallen in love with the corporate culture thanks to the branding efforts, increased their frequency of employee referrals. As part of this process, referring team members submitted a summary of the applicant and how the applicant’s experience and personality connects with the culture.
- Pulse surveys, sent bi-monthly, encourage feedback and awareness on the brand and culture messages, onboarding and job understanding.
- Corporate learning classes offered training and personal development sessions specific to the branding efforts.
- If your organization completes annual performance appraisals, team members assessed their performance in categories that align with the employer brand and core values, connecting their success to the overall culture foundation.
- Complacency is toxic, including in employer branding efforts. Employees feel an annual refresh of branding efforts, both in how the brand is portrayed and the programs that support it.
Shared experiences are key to moving hearts—not just minds. Events have this potential. According to David Fotheringham, “The more dramatic and exciting the experience, the better the anchor for learning and the stronger the bonds between team members.”
When Exits Happen, Leave Bridges Intact
With the tightest job market we have seen in more than 15 years and people switching jobs more frequently than ever, a growing number of firms understand the value of retaining the bond between employer and employee strong after the retirement cake and punch have been served.
Alumni have first-hand knowledge of your culture and how your firm works. They earned the trust of others quickly because they can easily relate based on their knowledge and expertise. Alumni programs are effective and include:
- Brand ambassadors
- Employee and business referrals
- Content experts
- Board of Directors candidates
That’s why it’s so important to make sure if an employee decides to pursue a career elsewhere you maintain the relationship. Gone is the stigma once associated with ex-employees. These days, savvy employers are paying more attention to these “boomerang employees”—including as possible rehires. According to a survey, 76% of more than 1,800 HR professionals reported being more open to hiring former employees than they were in the past. That means departing on good terms is the best move they could make.
Successful employer branding should create a contagious experience at all tenure stages and reinforce the things that make people feel good about working for their company. For more tips on creating a seamless employee experience every time, check out our post on the critical touchpoints you don’t want to skip.