You have probably noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find and retain motivated, well-trained talent. The good news is that there are many methods companies can use to improve this. Classic examples, such as innovative recruiting methods, thriving culture, or cool benefits have always been the factors that give you a competitive edge over your rivals. Throwing the right amount of employer branding into the mix might just be that extra something you need to make your strategy even more scalable, which is why we decided to make it this week’s topic.
”In the old (business) world, you spent 30% of your time building a great brand and 70% shouting about it. Now it’s the other way around.”
First off, there is no general recipe for a successful employer branding strategy. Every company has to pursue its own method and style when it comes to finding the right way to brand itself. That being said, there are a few methods that are often used in this respect and that regularly find traction when being used to win new talent.
If you were to pinpoint which team is responsible for successful employer branding, it would be something between People Operations and Marketing. On the one hand, you need someone to effectively communicate how amazing your company is (Marketing), on the other hand, you need a team ensuring that what you communicate to the outside is actually reflective of what is going on on the inside (People Operations). When speaking of employer branding, it is often the external measures that are being accentuated. This is rather unfortunate since internal measures are just as important and effective. If you keep your employees happy and content over a long period of time, they will become brand ambassadors for your company and start communicating why they are so happy with their job to other people (which is basically the best external branding strategy you can have). What we are trying to say here is this: employer branding starts on the inside, so put (more) effort into internal measures!
What is Employer Branding? – The Road to Successful Implementation
Impactful employer branding is not something that can be achieved instantly. Rather, it is a process involving multiple steps over a longer period of time, the ultimate goal being the development of successful employer branding measures as well as establishing a valuable and convincing employer branding proposition. What is this employer branding proposition? Basically, it is the summary of those core values, those culture traits and company characteristics that make your company stand out to potential talent. It is the medium that sets your company apart from other companies on the relevant market by accentuating what you do differently. How do you create an employer branding proposition? The format is completely up to you. As long as it communicates what you want to say effectively, the way you say it is left to your imagination. For example, it can be a document that you attach to all of your job postings or a video on your website. When it comes to the content, however, the right strategy is key. The first step is to differentiate between internal and external measures:
Employer Branding Strategy – Internal Measures
As we mentioned above, employer branding works best when you take internal and external measures at the same time. Here are some suggestions regarding the strategy you could apply.
1. Analyze the Situation
The first step is to find out what the status quo is: How attractive is your company to potential talent at the moment?. Questions you can ask yourself here are, for example, what makes your company unique? Which employer image do you have? What makes working at your company special? What experiences can you offer your employees?
When gathering information on how people from the outside see you, you can turn to feedback gathered at trade fairs or on online platforms such as Glassdoor and Kununu. You can gather insight on internal matters such as these by holding employee surveys and analyzing the results.
When defining the target situation, involve employees and management alike. Assess which areas need improvement, ask yourself uncomfortable questions regarding your company’s pain points and why these exist. Focus on areas where you are already a market leader and think of ways to expand these areas in order to become even more attractive to potential new talent.
2. Introduce Positioning and Communication Strategies
After having analyzed the actual and target state of your company’s employer brand, and after having pinpointed the discrepancy between both situations, you can start with the development of your positioning and communications strategy. The goal of this strategy is to minimize the discrepancy we just mentioned, maybe even annul it completely. But what exactly is meant by “positioning and communication?”
Your company’s positioning strategy refers to the situation your company is momentarily in and includes all the steps you need to take in order to reach the position you want to be in.
Your communication strategy should include internal and external channels. The internal channel is the communication between management and employees while the external channel is what your company communicates to outsiders during the process of building your employer brand.
3. Act Through Measures
Once you have your positioning and communication strategies in place, you need to implement them effectively. The best way to do this is by setting a certain standard for the measures you plan on using. One example for this is the SMART goal standard:
- Specific: the measures have to be defined as precisely as possible.
- Measurable: the progress you must be measurable in numbers.
- Achievable: the measures you take have to be achievable for you and your employees.
- Realistic: your measures have to be realistic, in reach and relevant to your company purpose.
- Time-bound: the measures must be subject to a clearly defined timeline.
The unique benefit of SMART goals is that they allow you to divide the workload between different teams effectively while still being able to track everything precisely, apart from that there is a lot of scientific evidence that backs up their effectiveness.
4. How to Increase Internal Employer Branding
There are many different ways to increase employer branding within the company. The most effective way to achieve this is by creating an environment where your employees feel happy and safe. This is possible by creating a solid feedback culture, cool employee benefits or by introducing measures of employee motivation. Visit our blog if you are looking for more inspiration.
Employer Branding Strategy – External Measures
Once you have established a strong employer brand internally, it is time to make the whole concept scalable for your company on the outside. Here are a few ways to do so:
Take Part In Employer Award Competitions
Participating in employer competitions and obtaining seals of approval as a sign of a good employer is a good way of communicating to the business world that you and your company honestly value your employees. The downside? Many prestigious employer awards have a high entrance fee, and getting approved for the process doesn’t necessarily mean you will receive positive feedback.
Build Partnerships With Like-Minded Organisations and/or People
Cooperation with like-minded people is also part of a successful employer branding strategy. Associating with such institutions and/or individuals demonstrates your company’s growth mindset and signalizes that you are open to suggestions from different sources and not a rigid institution which is resistant to change. It also signalizes to new talent that they would be joining a company that they can shape with their ideas. Moreover, people that, for one, are experts in their field, and secondly, advocate your brand even though they are not employed by you, make the best references. But who can you contact? For starters, you can team up with local university lecturers, consultants, or business influencers. Best case scenario: You put together a team of experts from different areas of your field who are willing to act as an advisory board to your company.
3. Participation at Trade Fairs
Presence at job and trade fairs is not only a good way to make yourself visible to potential customers but to future employees, as well. They are the perfect opportunity for you to put your employer branding strategy into practice. That is the reason why many companies not only have their sales representatives but also their marketing or HR team members present at trade fairs.
4. Social Media Presence
Social media presence is just as important as participating at trade fairs or employer award competitions. Some may even argue that having an Instagram account with lots of traffic is worth more than having a well-visited stand at a trade fair or a good rating in a business magazine. Why is that? First of all, you can update your social media accounts on a regular basis and are not tied to a specific event such as a trade fair. Moreover, social media enables faster and easier communication with clients or potential new talent, it makes networking easier and you can redirect people straight to your website with a link instead of having to hand them a flyer with your URL or email address. There is one other thing that social media is perfect for. One could actually say it was pretty much designed for purposes like this; social media is the perfect medium for your employer branding strategy. It is medium with which individuals and companies can display themselves and communicate what is important to them. As a company, you can also use social media to introduce new product launches or social events you will be attending or hosting. Naturally, the audience at trade fairs will be more reflective of the target audience you are trying to attract, resulting in a higher conversion rate at these events, but that doesn’t mean that the conversion rate through social will be zero. Your social media can be mainly seen as a medium that puts your company “out there”, rather than a medium that is going to generate one lead after the next. With that in mind, try to keep your social feeds entertaining, rather than salesy. Keep them professional, but don’t shy away from posting something fun from time to time. Most importantly, update your feeds regularly with befitting content that reflects your company and its brand. If you notice that a certain platform doesn’t perform for you, consider deleting your account entirely, rather than having an inactive account floating around the internet with no purpose.
Employer Branding in a Nutshell
The most important thing to keep in mind about employer branding is that you need to have the right balance between internal and external measures, whereas internal branding has a higher priority than external employer branding. When increasing internal employer branding, be sure to have a good method of communication between management and employees, only then can you receive valuable feedback that will allow you to implement effective measures to improve your brand. When increasing external feedback, make use of as many options as possible, be they trade fairs, employer award competitions, or social media and consider starting partnerships or expanding your network with other like-minded organizations or individuals.