Today, attracting and retaining top talent has become a critical challenge across industries. This is especially true in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to a significant shift in employee attitudes and expectations, and has fundamentally changed the way that many of us approach work and the workplace.
As such, it’s safe to say that crafting an effective employer branding strategy has never been more important.
For those of you who may not be familiar, employer branding is a strategic process in which an organisation shapes and communicates its identity, culture, values and other offerings to attract potential candidates while engaging and retaining existing employees.
It involves developing a compelling and authentic narrative that portrays the company as an attractive employer and place to work, highlighting its unique attributes such as company culture, opportunities for growth and development, and the overall employee experience.
As organisations strive to stand out in today’s competitive, candidate-driven market, these strategies play an instrumental role in shaping perceptions, fostering engagement and ultimately creating a workplace that resonates with both current and prospective employees.
However, building a strong employer branding strategy is often easier said than done and we’ve sat through enough brainstorming meetings with clients to understand the complex nature of the beast.
With the power to make or break your reputation and perception among former, current and prospective employees (and clients), an employer brand must be well thought out and intentional.
It’s not enough to just ‘talk the talk’. Companies need to deliver on what they’re promising – which is why we’ve created this guide to help companies not only build their employer branding strategy, but see it through.
1. Conduct an employer brand audit
The first step in developing your employer brand strategy is conducting an internal assessment.
What is your company culture like? Are there any unique selling points that set you apart as an employer?
While you may feel you can answer these questions yourself, it’s often helpful to look elsewhere for this information – especially considering the fact that employers are often unaware of their reputation among job seekers and even their own employees.
Conducting social media searches, monitoring career sites for reviews or hiring a firm to monitor your reputation is therefore a good place to start. And, of course, we recommend talking to current employees.
Is there anything they feel is missing? Is there anything they think needs to change?
This introspection helps in crafting an authentic and appealing employer value proposition (EVP) that resonates with both current employees and potential candidates.
2. Define your employer value proposition
Key to the employer branding strategy is the employer value proposition (EVP). The EVP is a comprehensive set of benefits that an organisation offers its employees in exchange for their time, skills and contributions.
It encompasses the tangible and intangible aspects that make the company an attractive place to work, including compensation, work-life balance, career advancement opportunities, company culture and the overall employee experience.
However, before considering what to include in your employer value proposition, it is important to look at how employee attitudes and expectations have changed in recent years.
More specifically, how they’ve changed since the pandemic.
3. Address post-pandemic expectations
As remote work and flexible scheduling became the norm during the pandemic, employees experienced a previously unimagined sense of autonomy in their work. This led many to re-evaluate their expectations, transforming the way they thought about work-life balance, flexibility and the overall employee-employer relationship.
As the pandemic continued and the lines between work and personal life blurred further, employees started seeking out more comprehensive support for their physical and mental well-being. Additionally, the isolation and stress caused by the pandemic led to a growing demand for mental health resources and support.
The pandemic also redefined the concept of personal purpose as many employees sought to find meaning within their roles. The desire to align personal values with one’s employer, and the willingness to leave one’s job if they did not, gained prominence during the pandemic – which goes to show how important company values, mission and culture are in employee decision-making.
All this means employers need to adapt their employer branding strategies to align with these changing expectations. Companies that prioritise remote work options, well-being initiatives, transparent communication and purpose-driven cultures will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the post-pandemic era.
4. Leverage employee experiences
Now that you’ve identified what employees are looking for (and have incorporated those elements within your EVP), it’s time to get talking.
Employers should establish a strong online presence across a variety of platforms including company websites, social media, professional networks and industry-specific platforms. They should create compelling and authentic employer brand content that highlights their workplace culture, employee stories, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and company values. Engaging videos, articles and posts that provide an inside look into the organisation, like those we created for Informa, can attract potential candidates who align with the company’s ethos.
Moreover, tapping into the power of current employees as brand ambassadors can yield significant benefits. Encouraging employees to share their experiences, projects and achievements on their personal social media accounts can create a ripple effect, expanding the company’s reach and credibility. Highlighting employees’ growth journeys, career progression and professional development can attract like-minded talent who aspire to similar growth paths.
Online platforms also offer the opportunity to interact directly with potential candidates. Companies should actively engage with comments, messages and enquiries, responding promptly and professionally to build a positive brand image. Hosting virtual events, webinars and Q&A sessions can further showcase the company’s expertise and culture while offering insights into the work environment.
Incorporating employee testimonials, reviews and success stories on the company website and other platforms can provide authentic perspectives for candidates evaluating the organisation. Encouraging employees to participate in employer branding campaigns, such as sharing ‘a day in the life’ stories or participating in video testimonials, adds a human touch to the brand.
5. If you want brand ambassadors, invest in employee engagement
In order to reap the benefits of having employee brand ambassadors, you have to have happy employees. Which is why employee engagement plays a crucial role in the realm of employer branding.
An engaged workforce becomes a strong brand advocate, naturally promoting the organisation’s positive attributes and values to potential candidates. Engaged employees are more likely to share their experiences on social media and refer potential candidates, thereby enhancing the company’s reputation as an attractive employer.
Perhaps most importantly, however, engaged employees won’t have anything negative to say.
In the digital age, employees have gained a powerful platform to express their opinions and experiences through online reviews and feedback. Negative reviews often highlight issues related to work culture, management practices, compensation, work-life balance and overall employee experience. These reviews can spread quickly and reach a wide audience, potentially deterring candidates from considering the company and influencing customers’ perceptions of the brand. Furthermore, current employees might be influenced by these reviews, which could lead to decreased morale and engagement, and even increased turnover rates.
Outside of social media and online reviews, employee engagement significantly impacts the overall employee experience. When employees feel valued, empowered and aligned with the company’s goals, they are more likely to remain loyal, contribute innovative ideas and take ownership of their roles. This positive work experience translates into a positive employer brand perception among both current and potential employees.
To foster employee engagement, organisations must prioritise creating a supportive and inclusive work environment. This can include offering opportunities for skill development and growth, recognising and rewarding employees’ contributions, providing regular feedback and communication, and ensuring a healthy work-life balance. When employees feel connected and valued, their engagement becomes a driving force that elevates the company’s reputation and attractiveness as an employer of choice.
Looking ahead, understanding and adapting to post-pandemic shifts in employee expectations is crucial for companies to stand out in the competitive talent market. A tailored employer branding strategy that encompasses remote work options, well-being initiatives, transparent communication and a value-driven culture positions companies as responsive to these evolving needs, fostering a stronger connection with both existing and potential employees. As we continue to navigate this new normal, an agile and empathetic approach to employer branding is essential for businesses to thrive in attracting and retaining top talent.
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