The Employee Experience: Developing an Employer Branding Strategy Plays An Important Role in the Employee Experience (Part 5 of 6)

May 3, 2016by Gregg ApirianRecruiting and RetentionEmployer Branding

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As we come to the end of our Employee Experience series, we want to close on what we believe to be one of the most important components used to fuel the employee experience—Employer Branding. In today’s competitive marketplace, a company’s employer brand is an essential tool to attract and retain top talent.

How Can Companies Compete Effectively In This New Battle For Talent?

There is growing concern among CEOs about finding and keeping the best talent to achieve their growth ambitions. Different surveys show that in 2014, 36% of global employers reported talent shortages, the highest percentage since 2007, and in a more recent 2015 survey, 73% of CEOs reported being concerned about the availability of key skills. So how can companies compete effectively in this new battle for talent? First and foremost, it’s time for leaders to focus on strengthening their organizations’ employer brands.

What Is An Employer Brand?

A company’s brand is based on its reputation in the marketplace for its products and services. That brand generally stands for what the company believes in and what it offers to its marketplace. A company cultivates and promotes their brand to differentiate itself from its competitors, and evoke loyalty from consumers who believe in what it stands for.

But there’s another angle to reputation that every company must manage—that as an employer. What a consumer feels about a company and what a potential new hire or existing employee feels about that same company can be distinctly different. The employer brand determines the company’s reputation as a place to work.

Why Does An Employer Brand Matter?

Before the Internet, a company was insulated and could project to candidates what they wanted to show. That’s no longer the case. Candidates don’t just learn about the company from the company. They can connect with friends, or friends of friends, that work there. They look up the recruiters on LinkedIn. They check social media sites like Glassdoor for ratings, feedback, accolades, and objections. They learn from sources outside of the company’s control whether the company’s image is a true reflection or smoke and mirrors.

What does this mean? The company is no longer in control of a conversation that has a massive impact on whether talent knocks on their door or looks in other directions for employment. These changes have made the employer brand a critical component to a company’s success.

Building an Employer Brand Strategy is an Exercise in Purpose and Alignment

An employer brand isn’t an exercise in marketing. It is an exercise in purpose and alignment. What does the company stand for? How does it execute that belief? A strong employer brand tells this story and shapes the narrative. It must be authentic, it must be lived, and it must give employees the tools and talking points for when they tell their story.

It also becomes a north star for the company itself. For example, most companies use social media and modern marketing tools to reach and engage candidates and employees. Without the guidance of an employer brand, a company’s messaging and content that supports those messages can become aimless or doesn’t deliver the engagement it was designed to. The employer brand guides how content, communications, recruiting and learning experiences are shaped and executed.

A company has a responsibility to develop an employer brand that helps their employees relate to the company’s objectives, purpose, and values. This will guide everything employees do, say and in some cases, how they perform.

How to Avoid the Biggest Mistakes With Employer Branding

The first mistake? Thinking employer branding doesn’t matter. Without an employer brand, the company is missing a big opportunity to connect with present and future employees. Their relationship begins and ends with direct managers peers or recruiters. With an active employer brand, the company can keep the connection building anywhere and anytime.

The second mistake is that an employer brand is “one size fits all.” Companies––even in the same industries––can be markedly different in their philosophies. Puma thinks differently than Tom’s shoes. Again, an employer brand is less about marketing and more about purpose and alignment. Why does your company exist and what does it want to be known for? How does it help the employee realize their full potential? Why should an employee believe in your mission? Why would someone want to work for the company over other employers?

Employees and candidates know what a good employer brand looks and feels like. Don’t dictate, but instead, give them guidelines and let them use and live it, as the company itself leads by example.

Employer Branding Is An Iterative Process

Giving your employer brand the necessary attention it deserves should be non-negotiable for companies trying to attract and retain top talent. Today, the employee experience extends beyond the workplace. Without an effective employer brand, a company allows someone else to define their employee experience.  

Like most areas of business, building and sustaining an effective employer brand is an iterative process that starts at one stage and evolves based on what you learn and where the business is going. Don’t etch the guidelines of your employer brand into stone. Leadership and all other business groups must remain flexible to the changing tides of the workplace while keeping the essence of the employer branding in place.

Employee Experience Series:

This is part 5 of a 6-part blog series discussing the Employee Experience and how it drives the Customer Experience. In case you missed our previous posts here are links to the previous articles in the series.

Gregg Apirian

As the Managing Director of Vignette, Gregg is responsible for agency-wide vision and strategy, operations and finance, business development and engagement management. With nearly 20 years in entrepreneurial and executive-level roles, Gregg has been an instrumental leader at many distinguished agencies. Prior to Vignette Gregg was EVP, Digital Marketing at Trailer Park, EVP at Schematic (now POSSIBLE), and began his agency career as co-founder and CEO of BLITZ. Over the years Gregg’s leadership and combined experience drove growth, profitability and delivery of innovative and effective solutions for brands like GE, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Target, Verizon, OWN, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Johnson & Johnson, HSN, Ann Taylor & LOFT, Nike, and Reebok.