Having a strong employer brand can set your organization apart from the competition. Your brand represents your company culture and values as it is viewed by your current and former employees. It's based on their experience and, if it's authentic, candidates will see and respond to it. In today's
Why should employers care about employer branding?
The 2017 CareerArc Employer Branding Study interviewed 1,162 job seekers and hiring managers to discover, “91% of candidates seek out at least one online or offline resource to evaluate an employer’s brand before applying for a job”. Further, the survey found, “96% of companies believe employer brand and reputation can positively or negatively impact revenue, however less than half (44%) monitor that impact.” It is clear that the employer brand is very important to candidates and employees, but companies still struggle to manage it.
So what impacts the employer brand and, by extension, your company's reputation? Think of it this way. An employee gets hired on and goes through a positive recruitment and onboarding process. He works very hard to contribute to the company, often putting in long hours and sacrificing personal time to complete projects. After a couple of years, this loyal employee comes into work and gets the bad news that his department is being eliminated. No advance notice, no finding out if he can move to another area of the company, and no other options
But what if the company’s Human Resources team did something different, that would have a better impact on the employer brand? Instead of giving the employee a pink slip, what if the company found out what the employee wanted to do and created a new job for him in one of the other growing departments? This employee has already proven to be loyal and dedicated to the company, after all, and is capable of learning the new skills required. Why destroy this opportunity, right? Especially when the outcome is a happy employee who is motivated to share their positive experience with others. He has become, in a manner of speaking, a happy customer. And when that happens, the employer brand gets a boost as well.
Managing those competing forces that influence a brand is what employer branding is all about. You want to drive the positive experiences and stories while address any negative feedback in a professional way that makes your target audience trust your message. And this can definitely be easier said than done.
Building a positive employer brand
So what exactly does it take to build a positive employer brand? Is there some secret that only some companies know about? The truth is that any organization can do it if they just put in a little effort. After all, an employer brand originates not with fancy marketing or reviews, but with employees. The day-to-day experiences that employees have in dealing with management and customers directly impact the employer brand. Since that aspect is internal, the employer brand can be designed by employees and for employees before pushing the message to external audiences.
I'll give an example. Lauryn Sargent, the co-founder at Stories Incorporated shared with Spark Hire how they help employers develop their brand values. Sargent said, ”The only person who has the real details, what it’s like to truly work at your company, are the people doing the work and showing up every day. Getting that content is really most valuable to the candidates and it’s who they trust hearing from the most anyway.” Encouraging employees to share their experience makes for a more authentic brand, with a clearer employee value proposition, which appeals to potential new hires more than the hype. And the stronger the brand grows, the more effective a tool it is in your talent acquisition program.
Is the employer brand effective?
One thing you may be asking yourself is if your current employer brand is effective, or if it needs an overhaul. There are several signs to watch for, according to GetHappy, an employee engagement firm. You likely have a good brand if:
You celebrate knowing who you are as a team
You take full advantage of social media
You demonstrate things, not just talk about them
Your employees embrace the corporate culture
You show your employees how much you care for them
Your HR and Marketing teams work together well
Your leadership team is 100% on board
Your employee referral program is effective
You make an effort to provide a positive candidate experience
You think about the entire employee lifecycle
If this sounds like your company, then great job! Your employer brand strategy is probably on track. If you shook your head at the above list, then these might be a few areas to think about before you read further and focus on how to track your brand.
Managing and tracking brand data
Keeping on top of the employer brand requires tracking specific metrics. In this section, we'll talk about the top 5 employer brand metrics you should be tracking to stay ahead of the curve.
#1 - Social Engagement
When your organization regularly engages with candidates, current employees, and company alum on social media, this creates a fanbase of sorts who can help spread your message. Some sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor are easier to monitor than others but consider tracking social media metrics across all the channels you're using. These metrics can include engagement, interactions, and sentiment stats each month to see who is sharing posts, what is being discussed, and how the public is engaging with your brand. Look for increases in these activities month over month to indicate your brand reach or network is growing. One warning about social metrics, make sure you're skimming the content of the discussions to make sure engagement is still positive even if the numbers are increasing.
#2 - Click Through Rates for Job Postings
This is an easy one to track. Converting job seekers to candidates by getting them to click through to a job advertisement and then fill out the application is an excellent indicator of success. You want the candidates coming to you and the more they do, the stronger your brand reputation will grow as you can infer candidates are recognizing your company and wanting to learn more. You can also go a step further and track your acceptance rates for candidates you offer positions to. If the number is high, you're probably doing something right.
#3 - Employee Referrals
Do you have an employee referral process at your company? Because if you don't, adding one is a quick and easy way to gauge you brand. An active employee referral program with a high rate of retention suggests that employees are happy and feel confident about referring their friends or colleagues. No one will try to bring in people they like if the company is a train wreck, so healthy referral numbers are a sign that the brand is strong and on track. If referrals decrease, it's probably a warning sign that something's going wrong in the workplace.
#4 - Employee Engagement
Gathering feedback on a regular basis in the form of employee engagement surveys helps employers stay on top of employee engagement, satisfaction, and happiness levels, which all have an impact on the employer brand. If all these indicators are positive, keep doing what you're doing. Keep in mind, depending on the perception of trustworthiness of a brand, you might want to make these surveys anonymous to get more accurate insights.
#5 - Giveaway/takeaway ratio
How many of your candidates are coming to you from a competitor? Better yet, how many of your own employees are you losing to the competition? Tracking those numbers can help you get a sense of what the draw of your employer brand really is. If competitor employees are coming to you on their own, odds are you're crushing your rival's brand and providing your staff with a better working environment. Likewise, if you're people are jumping ship, then take a hard look at your brand and what message it's conveying to them.
Ongoing monitoring is the key to success
It's hard enough to build a strong employer brand but once you have, monitoring it is vital. By collecting data on several key metrics, be it these ones or others, you are creating an advanced warning system to help sound the alarm if public sentiment turns against your brand. Remember, you can't see the red flags waving if you're looking in the opposite direction.
Lastly, when it comes to keeping your employer brand healthy, remember your brand isn't created in a vacuum. You need to seek out and consider the inputs from company employees, potential candidates, employees giving exit interviews, upper management, and HR. Plus don't forget about your own marketing team who already understands how to create a consumer brand and has tactics you can then use to grow an employer one.
Employer branding helps frame your company as a great place to work and attract top talent who will help you reach your goals. Take the time to invest in it and then remember to monitor and update it as required. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to growing a brand but once you hear a competitor's employee muse that they'd rather work for you, it's all going to be worth it.