What is employer branding?
Think of employer branding as how a company shows off its best side to attract extraordinary people. It has been around for over 25 years and is more than hiring the right folks. You focus on building a relationship that makes employees want to stick around. In today's world, where everyone connects with everyone online, getting the message right about why your company is a great workplace is super important.
A strong employer brand can reduce the cost per hire by as much as 50%. But there is more to it than money. Gordhan K. Saini takes a deep dive into this in a piece for Sage Journals, showing how layered and interesting employer branding has become.
Employer branding: a mix of many things
Employer branding is more than just HR. It is a unique mix of marketing, recruitment, and understanding what makes us tick. 86% of HR professionals agree that recruitment is becoming more like marketing. Gordhan K. Saini, in his article, hits the nail on the head: "Employer branding is a step outside of the usual HR and marketing playbook.”
At the same, how a company attracts potential team members has changed a lot with the help of modern technology. With the rise of social media marketing, employer branding heavily relies on the impression your company makes visually. It is the combination of the visual and social aspects that is key.
How employer branding works
How to create an employer brand
Building an employer brand is like assembling a puzzle where each piece is essential. Beyond flashy perks or excellent office space, you must establish your company’s values and how you speak to your team and potential hires. Hasan Gilani and Lucy Cunningham's research identifies seven critical themes in employer branding:
🌟 Define the values for your brand. Start with building a solid foundation. Write down or visualize the values that matter to you with a mind map.
📚 Employee induction and training. Add a live social wall to Sharepoint.
🎨 Branding internal communication. Mix it up. Add relevant content. You can even add social media to WebEx.
🌱 Develop organizational culture. Culture is a rarity. Many people talk about it. However, it needs authentic visual and social media content to grow & thrive.
🏆 Your rewards and benefits program. It is not only what you offer but how you offer it. Check out how Apple has invested in a visually appealing presentation of its benefits program.
💪 Have a firm brand commitment. The most challenging part is staying consistent. Brand consistency does not have to be rigid. You can still be flexible while holding yourself and your team to a high standard to reach your goals.
🌐 Employer branding on social media. Integrating social media with your website and other digital platforms by adding social feeds or buttons brings many benefits that make your employer brand easily recognizable and memorable.
These elements together shape how employees and potential candidates perceive a company. With enough time and effort, the results will speak for themselves: hiring top talent will be easier because 92% of people would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.
Culture: the heartbeat of your company
Behind a good reputation lies a good culture. Your culture makes your company unique and can be a magnet for attracting and keeping the right talent. A strong culture makes employees feel part of something bigger than their job description. Gilani and Cunningham emphasize that an organization's day-to-day culture, intertwined with employee brand visuals and social media presence, holds significant employee value.
This combination contributes to someone’s decision to stay with the company even if they receive a financially more rewarding offer. The research suggests that a well-crafted employer brand, deeply rooted in a strong company culture, is critical to employee retention. The statistics show you can reduce turnover by as much as 28%. Therefore, showing more visual social content across your internal and external platforms is worth the investment.
The researchers added, "Employer branding, integrated with the organization's culture, attracts and retains employees, making it a cornerstone of organizational success."
Effective employer branding examples
The role of social media
Social media platforms have become essential for companies to showcase their employer brand and attract top talent. The statistics show that 68% of Millennials and 54% of Gen-Xers visit an employer's social media profiles to evaluate their brand, demonstrating these platforms’ significant influence on potential candidates' perceptions. Plus, 79% of all job seekers have used social media in their search.
Learn storytelling from the best
There is an art to employer branding and how to make your brand come alive: it is the art of storytelling. However, there is a twist: in today’s digital world, you are not weaving one narrative you push out forcefully upon a passive audience but rather enabling your employees to share their stories. In effect, you are dealing with generating and then showing user-generated content.
Getting your people to talk is more complex than it sounds. The software company Lever faced the challenge of rapid growth while having a primarily introverted workforce. They enabled employees to share their stories on LinkedIn, leading to 80% of their staff participating and increasing their social visibility.
Examples of employee branding on LinkedIn
LinkedIn, in particular, plays a crucial role in employer branding, with 60% of prospective employees researching a potential employer on this platform before applying. Maintaining an active and engaging presence on LinkedIn allows you to showcase your company culture, values, and employee experiences, attracting potential candidates and engaging your current workforce.
Show the impact of your product on the world.
For the first anniversary of ChatGPT, OpenAI used user-generated content where regular people ranging from engineers to artists to students to an actual centenarian talked about the life-changing impact that ChatGPT has had in their lives. Nothing is more inspiring for your next great talent to send in their application or stay another three or four years with the company than seeing that your work matters.
Celebrate the jobs your people do
Did you know there was a World Project Management Day? Nortal did because project managers are the backbone of its daily operations as an integrated IT services provider across four continents. So, they made sure to give a shoutout when one was due.
The classic employee profile
Often, we live in a society of strangers separated by invisible walls. Because it can act like a shortcut, relatability is a well-known psychological factor that larger and established brands use. Relatability helps them compete for talent against up-and-coming challenger brands that may offer a more exciting vision of change. A case in point is how Bank of America highlights its employees and dedication to serving small businesses.
Recognize public service
While the sample below from Meta shows military veterans, service need not be just enrollment in the armed forces. Authentic service can be varied. It deserves to ask what your people do for the society around them. Chances are, plenty of unheralded volunteer work is going on, such as collecting donations for a local cancer charity while standing for hours in a local mall. Showcasing is an easy way to showcase the quality of people you have gathered and inspire everyone.
Highlight your history
Using the latest technology does not mean we have to forget the past. Both the good and bad parts deserve attention. Placed in the proper context and discussed transparently, it can drive us all forward. Lockheed Martin combined a video and a quiz to spark over 456 reposts, 184 comments, and 9,749 likes in a week with zero ad spending.
Share the sense of your physical spaces
The post-pandemic world has gotten us used to living half our lives in the virtual world. But the real world is still out there, and a considerable part of the world economy and the daily employee experience for billions of people. By putting effort into the photography and video you use to portray your office, retail, or even manufacturing spaces, you are utilizing a solid form of social proof that makes you secure, attractive, cutting-edge, and reliable all at once. You become a more desirable employer. See how LVMH attracts talent by showing its latest store launches.
That holds for manufacturing in the Midwest and fashion in Tokyo. Here is Joby Aviation announcing the location of their first aircraft production facility in Ohio:
7 more examples of employer branding
Visual storytelling at conferences and public events
JPMorgan, one of the largest banks in the US and the world, did not shy away from posting an in-depth video reel on their main Instagram account about their 2nd annual DEVUP conference in Piano, Texas. It is an excellent example of user-generated content in the context of employer branding. Additionally, they can easily embed these Instagram reels across their website to encourage more people to join.
Go from team building to employer branding
Another way is to highlight smaller events, such as team-building sessions, and add a touch of humor to an otherwise routine content we all see when scrolling social media. See this throwback post to a fun event by the banking software provider Tuum:
Add your touch to seasonal celebrations
Let’s face it: every bigger brand comes with some package, and any company faces controversies while trying to solve the challenges of modern society. Exxon is no exception, as they have to balance the needs for energy security with climate change.
In between tackling serious matters, Exxon makes space and takes time to highlight their everyday workers and celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving, which they know their workers and customers celebrate. Sometimes, when communicating, being present where others are and doing what they do is the only first step you need to take.
Another example of tackling employer branding at scale is how Walmart has created a separate public account for their Central American business that any future or present employee in that region can follow for the latest tips, news, and messages from the Walmart family. It is efficient and helpful for everyone, especially when onboarding new employees.
Show your people using your product
Microsoft showed their product in action with a lovely video reel of one of their employees telling the story of getting a new puppy and how they used Bing AI to assemble their first two weeks of training, socialization, and other routines for the puppy.
Promote your internship and apprenticeship programs
There is no better way to provide value to your company and the surrounding society than empowering young people to take the next step in their future careers, like the German chemical giant BASF does:
The easiest way to get 100,000 likes
TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are full of channels and content creators who earn millions of dollars showing themselves doing mundane and everyday tasks, from raising cattle to building chairs or tables. For viral success, you do not have to look far.
Invest in quality photography and videography and record your people doing what they do best. That project can pay off big time, as this example from Porsche shows:
Three lessons from employer branding examples
Employee Storytelling is Key: Encouraging employees to share their professional stories on LinkedIn enhances your social visibility and employer brand. Investment in helping them tell their stories can be precious.
Embrace Easy-to-Use Apps: There is an advantage to having more content reach more people with tools like Flockler without needing help from your IT.
Collaboration Between HR and Marketing: If you can work successfully with marketing, you have already won half the battle.
Better employer brand strategy with sensemaking
The foundations of an employer branding strategy
Employer branding can be intricate. In their research, Neeti Leekha Chhabra and Sanjeev Sharma discuss the right long-term direction for employer branding.
They found that corporate culture, brand name, and compensation are what workers look for above anything else. Job portals and LinkedIn emerged as the preferred channels for promoting employer attractiveness. This research underscores the need to combine a strong image and the proper channels.
Companies must focus on several key areas to effectively implement employer branding strategies regardless of the specific approach. These include:
You have to understand the preferred organizational culture of your target talent pool.
You have to select the proper channels for communication from LinkedIn to their website or even digital signage in working spaces.
You must ensure a positive brand image on job portals and social media.
The authors found a significant and positive correlation between a strong brand image and the likelihood of applying to a company.
Sensemaking as the next step
One other article outlines how potential applicants perceive and interpret employer brands. It emphasizes the importance of sensemaking in employer branding in attracting highly qualified applicants and retaining valuable employees.
What is sensemaking?
Sensemaking is how people add meaning to the experience they share inside an organization. According to research, the main sensemaking journey for new applicants, for example, follows this threefold structure:
Exploring the employer brand.
Building a plausible image of an employer.
Assessing the attractiveness of the employer.
Knowing the sensemaking journey helps you to create content that directly addresses the curiosity and concerns of the people you are addressing. Helping to create better social and visual content that hits home every time.
You can employ sensemaking as a practical framework, constructing meaning where individuals interpret complex, surprising, or ambiguous events or situations.
How to use user-generated content for employer branding
With sensemaking, you can view your people as active co-creators of employer brands. Your HR world meets the world of user-generated content.
Review your existing visuals and messaging for employer branding.
Create better visuals and messaging if you need to improve your image.
Assess employer attractiveness by testing your content before publishing.
Explore unforeseen individual subjectivity and social dynamics after publishing.
Map your key influencers and their activities and use them to promote your brand.
As a result, you can have a fantastic social wall of automatically updating content that is relevant to your people and helps you to stand out when competing for talent:
Partnering with employer branding agencies
How employer branding agencies can help you
Employer branding agencies like 247GRAD take your values and goals and, based on them, create employer branding campaigns using tools like Flockler that can speak to a broader audience than your team can address alone.
How to select an employer branding partner
Here are five questions to answer when choosing an employer branding agency:
What is their track record?
Do they understand your industry?
Do they get your main challenges?
Do their range of services match what you are looking for?
Do they align with your values?
Employer Value Proposition
At the start of your collaboration, agencies often do an employer value proposition (EVP). It maps the mix of benefits and experiences a company offers in exchange for the talent and effort an employee brings. Beyond salary, it tackles the whole package that makes a job worthwhile.
"We've always supported our workforce — celebrating the individual, employing a strict 'no ceiling' policy, paying a livable wage, and providing above-the-mark benefits. That's a huge reason we've been able to triple our off-premise business overnight; we have such an engaged team even during this crisis. We may be one of the few restaurants that come out of this even healthier when we return to regular operations than when we were going in."
Talent retention and employee well-being
There is a close relationship between internal employer branding and talent retention. Employee engagement and talent retention are connected because engaged employees feel a sense of belonging and satisfaction with their work environment and are likely to stay with an organization long-term.
However, many aspects like culture, brand name, compensation, work-life balance, and training and development come into play in shaping an employer’s perception.
That is why answering the following questions can help you:
How can you balance the elements of compensation, work-life balance, and your organizational culture to create a strong employer brand?
How can you change employer branding strategies to address different people's specific needs and expectations in your workforce?
What role does leadership play in reinforcing and communicating the values of an employer brand to align with employee expectations and goals?
Career Opportunities in Employer Branding
It's challenging and exciting at the same time to mix marketing savvy with HR know-how and graphic design skills in your daily work. However, that is employer branding. You need a toolbox filled with many tips, tricks, and strategies to deal with unexpected situations and people acting unexpectedly while remaining calm.
You must know how to attract people with creative content that works like a magnet. But data analysis plays a significant role, too. You need to understand what the numbers tell you about your branding efforts. And let's not forget the HR side – a solid grasp of human resource practices is essential.
What's in Your Skill Set? Think about the critical skills you need to shine in employer branding. Are you a storyteller, a data whiz, or a social media guru? Maybe you're all three!
Staying Ahead of the Game: The job market is constantly evolving. How can you stay ahead of the curve as an employer branding professional?
Career Path Exploration: What does the future look like in employer branding? What are the potential growth opportunities and career paths in this dynamic field?