How to Improve Your Employer Brand

Most companies are aware that they need an employer branding strategy to attiract talent. But confusion persists about what that means exactly, and many organizations don’t feel they have the time or the budget to create an appealing employer brand. While there are companies with headline-grabbing employee value propositions—Google and Netflix come to mind, with their free chef-created meals and generous parental leave policy, respectively—employer branding doesn’t have to be flashy and expensive to gain results.

Read on and we’ll recap the value of an employer brand, lay out the qualities of effective employer brands, and share large and small steps your company can take to begin fine-tuning yours.

Why is Employer Branding Important?

The current tight talent market is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. That means it’s a candidate’s hiring market, and attracting exceptional employees is a far more challenging task than it once was. Here’s where a strong employer brand—also called a talent brand or employment brand—gives companies an edge. According to a 2015 data analysis by LinkedIn, companies with a strong employer brand get a 31 percent higher response rate to InMail, while also lowering their costs-per-hire by 43 percent. An earlier LinkedIn study from 2011 found that robust and thoughtful talent branding results in a 50 percent increase in qualified candidates. Talent branding, though often given only cursory attention, makes a big difference in recruiting success.

Qualities of a Strong Employer Brand

Your organization already has an employer brand. If you don’t manage your employment brand, it is built haphazardly by former employees, candidates who have gone through your recruiting process, company reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, and your company’s website. Here are the qualities of a strong talent brand:

  • Authenticity – Don’t paint a picture of your company that isn’t true.
  • An employee value proposition (EVP) – Clarify what your employees gain by working for your organization.
  • Messaging – Use multiple channels to get the word out about your employee value proposition.
  • Evolution – Employer branding is not static. Companies should constantly re-evaluate and improve their talent brand to align with the shifting concerns of employees.

How to Improve Your Employer Brand

There are both simple and more labor intensive measures you can take to build a strong employment brand. Even if your organization doesn’t have much extra bandwidth to focus on employer branding, you can make improvements. Here’s are some talent branding strategies to try:

Review Your Current Talent Brand

It’s important to get an honest read on your current employer brand. Through discussions during an informal meeting, or more formal approaches such as an employee survey, make an effort to understand what current employees think of working for your company. How would they describe the employee value proposition? What are words they would use to describe working for the company to people outside the organization? Would they recommend working at the company to friends and family? Remember, you want honest opinions and, even if you don’t like what you hear, it’s important to take these comments seriously.

Additionally, take a close look at your company’s website. Is there a careers page that talks directly to would-be employees? Are you clearly communicating the culture of your organization on the site, and in your company profiles on LinkedIn and Glassdoor?

These investigations don’t take much time or manpower, and can guide tactics that address some of the shortfalls and trends that surface.

Improve Perks and Benefits

Perks and benefits are the backbone of your employee value proposition—and it doesn’t just come down to compensation packages and free lunches. Remuneration is important and you should investigate the salaries of your key competitors. If you are not meeting or exceeding these wages, the best talent will be taking jobs elsewhere. Also, don’t underestimate the value of healthy snacks and decent coffee in the break room. Here are some other perks and benefits that improve your company’s EVP:

  • Flexible hours and remote work options
  • Wellness offerings, such as gym membership discounts or onsite yoga classes
  • Paid volunteering hours
  • Weekly coffee or happy hours
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Career development
  • Casual dress days
  • Bring your dog to work days
  • Mentoring program

Share Your Employer Brand Widely and Consistently

Once you’ve clarified your employer value proposition, it’s time to get it out there. Often this starts with the careers section of your company webpage. When would-be job candidates visit your website, they should get a quick and accurate feel for what it’s like to work at your company. Include pictures of the workspaces where employees will spend their days, and people in the process of working. Short employee quotes or video testimonials are also valuable. Other places where you can finesse your employer brand are your company pages on Glassdoor and LinkedIn. You can add pictures and testimonials here too, and spotlight your company’s values.

The first introduction many people get to your company is in the job description they get through job boards and professional websites. Near the top of the jobs description, many organizations include a short company profile. This gives job seekers a quick snapshot of your company mission, culture, and goals, and helps them determine whether your company goals align with their career goals.

Finally, leverage social media to get the word out about your company. If skills training is a significant perk for your organization, for example, share that on social media platforms and encourage employees to share how they are upskilling while at work. You can also allow employees to take over your company social media for a day or a week. This can lead to genuine ‘day in the life’ sharing about your workplace, and fun, genuine engagement.

Foster Community and Purpose

As most people will spend at least one-third of their life at work, feeling an authentic sense of community and purpose at work matters. Companies can help foster connections through social functions, such as happy hours, holiday parties, and summer barbecues. Larger businesses also encourage professional organizations for women, as well as minority and LGBT employees. Through mentoring, networking, and socializing, these groups support more inclusive workplaces.

In addition to connection, employees want to feel the time they spend at work has value, both for the organization and for the larger world. Newsletters, meetings, and awards programs are opportunities to extend kudos to individuals and teams for their contributions to the success of ongoing projects and new business.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and philanthropy initiatives are particularly appealing to millennials and younger workers. These initiatives give employees the opportunity to contribute to the greater good while they work, or feel a sense of pride knowing they are working for an organization that gives back. Some CSR programs to consider are paid time off for volunteering, company donations to a local food bank, and creating a more environmentally friendly office or worksite.

Say ‘Thank You’ Often

It’s simple, but powerful. Express your appreciation of your employees out loud and daily. It is something that easily falls to the wayside and, when it does, it damages employee engagement and your employer brand. Encourage a culture of appreciation through all levels of your organization.

Beyond ‘thank yous’ for a job well done, other ways to show appreciation include: acknowledging participation and ideas in meetings; a newsletter that outlines team achievements; and honoring the personal milestones and achievements of employees, such as birthdays, weddings, and graduations.

Kick It Off

If you haven’t been paying close attention to your employer brand, it’s time to get started or dust off your existing strategies. Review the above options and take action on those that are within your budget and time constraints. Any effort to improve and market your employer value proposition will nudge the needle and improve your recruiting results.

Contact LINK for help refining your employer brand.