Employer Branding: The What, Why, and How

Guest blog written by By Sydney Frazer, Partnerships Manager at Glassdoor.


Employer branding is the buzz phrase often heard among business chatter these days. You’ve been told that you should manage yours, but what exactly is employer branding? Why should you care about it? And what can you do to manage and optimize your employer brand? Once you gain an understanding of the basics of employer brand, you will grasp just how crucial it is to your company and what you can do to get started.

The What: Defining Employer Brand

You probably hear the term “employer brand” tossed around frequently, from your first day orientation to your company’s all-hand meetings. But what does it actually mean? According to Harvard Business Review, the term was defined for the first time in the mid-1990s and refers to an organization’s identity as an employer. On that note, a company with a positive employer brand is one that has a reputation as a great place to work. Employer brand isn’t only about attracting top talent to your company; it is about retaining current employees and keeping them engaged.

The Why: Benefits of Employer Branding Efforts

Now that you have a basic understanding of what employer brand means, why should you care about it? It is important to understand the impact of employer branding in order to get buy-in from your team and company as a whole. Prospective and current employees care about your employer brand. But what does this mean for your company exactly? To what degree do people care? And what kinds of benefits do you see from investing time, energy, and funds into cultivating your employer brand?

The research shows that prospective employees evaluate your employer brand. It affects your company’s ability to both attract and engage interested job seekers. A CareerArc study reveals that 75 percent of job seekers take into account a company’s employer brand before applying for a job. In fact, a Glassdoor survey shows that 69 percent of respondents are likely to apply to a position if the employer brand is actively managed. And a poor employer brand will greatly affect your company’s hiring ability; a Corporate Responsibility Magazine study shows that 69 percent of respondents would not accept a job with a company that had a bad reputation.

Current employees also pay attention to your employer brand. A poor employer brand will affect your ability to retain. For instance, research from the aforementioned Corporate Responsibility Magazine study indicates that 84 percent of respondents would think about leaving their current job for a position at another company with an amazing corporate reputation. Research from LinkedIn further supports this; companies with a strong employer brand have a 28 percent lower turnover rate than their counterparts.

Lastly, your employer brand can influence your bottom line. A LinkedIn study reveals the effect on hiring costs; the study shows that companies with a strong employer brand see a 43 percent decrease in cost per hire. Furthermore, research by Lippincott and LinkedIn indicates that companies with both a strong consumer and talent brand have seen a 36 percent increase in share price over the last 5 years.

Photo courtesy of Glassdoor

Photo courtesy of Glassdoor

The How: Managing Your Employer Brand In 4 Steps

It is evident now - your employer brand matters and it needs to be managed. Wondering how to get started? Consider these 4 steps:

  1. Assess your current brand. You need to develop an understanding of what you are working with. It is important to have a baseline. Use this as a jumping off point, as well as something to evaluate your efforts against down the road. Develop this baseline by monitoring your reputation in the following ways:
    • Focus on social chatter. What kind of conversations are you seeing on Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor, and Quora about your company?
    • Ask for feedback. Encourage employees to submit anonymous feedback and then examine trends. Current employees know your reputation best and their input is very valuable for developing an understanding of where improvements are needed.
    • Look at brand awareness. Examine what percentage of targeted groups are aware of your brand. Use this to inform who is getting exposure to your employer brand and through what avenues.
  2. Tap key players. Your employer brand won’t manage itself. The best companies utilize the expertise of several teams to manage the entirety of their employer brand. A few key participants include:
    • Marketing. They are familiar with crafting strong messages and should develop the messaging for your brand, then choose the right ways to disseminate it. Ensure employees are also familiar with this messaging and understand the why behind it.
    • HR. This team has great insight into and influence over what candidates are saying about your company. This can help inform areas for growth.
    • PR. These people are professionals at communicating news — both the good and the bad — to current employees, as well as the outside world. Let your PR team guide difficult conversations and exciting developments in a way that supports your employer brand.
    • C-suite. Support from prominent leaders is necessary. They should set the tone for your employer brand and be an example for how to promote it. The entire company will look to these leaders for guidance around employer brand, so their actions and communications should be aligned with it.
       
  3. Put metrics in place. Collecting data allows you to assess the effectiveness of your employer branding efforts. This can help show success of your efforts, increasing company buy-in, or highlight areas that didn’t quite work, showing where to make adjustments in your plans. Many of the key measurements of employer brand health are probably already tracked by HR. Common indicators include cost-per-hire, time-to-hire, retention rate, and employee satisfaction. Be sure to gather this data prior to actively putting effort towards your employer brand. Then, continue to collect the data at regular 3-to-6 month intervals. These numbers should highlight trouble areas and help inform any necessary adjustments to your plan.
     
  4. Create a plan and start enacting it. Once you have a baseline, a team, and metrics, it is time to actually start managing your employer brand. Follow these tips to get started:
    • Know your values. Your mission and vision should guide the way you approach and develop your employer brand. The associated values should help you develop your message.
    • Generate your message. What kind of message do you want to communicate about your company? Whether it touches on your emphasis on professional development or your dog-friendly office, be sure it supports the kind of employer brand you are working to build.
    • Embrace feedback. Feedback should be a regular part of your company’s open communication loop. Ask for feedback from candidates, current team members, and exiting employees; let them know that you are listening by responding and making adjustments based on trends that emerge.
    • Be flexible. The recruiting landscape is constantly changing. Your approach to crafting your employer brand may need to vary to meet this evolution. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments and keep moving forward.

Your employer brand is complex and multi-faceted. Accordingly, it will take time and effort to manage. But with the right team in place and a solid plan of attack, you will be well on your way to building a strong employer brand!

CFW Careers offers consulting on Employer Brand. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your Employer Brand, contact Stephanie Kronenberg at stephanie@cfwcareers.com. 

This post was guest written by By Sydney Frazer. As a Partnerships Manager at Glassdoor, Sydney works with hundreds of accounts across universities, libraries, and blogs, helping to provide them with content and tools to aid job seekers. Outside of work, Sydney enjoys running, hiking, and searching for the perfect burrito.