Branding is big news. Beyond hoping to boost sales and profits through consumer-facing brands, branding is also a critical component for companies in their roles as employers. As budgets are being made and communications planned for 2019, there are steps big and small you can take to make employer branding a priority for your team in the new year.
Why bother? Recruitment, hiring, and even retention can be directly impacted by the strength of an employer brand. The modern potential hire and engaged employee is eager to feel like there is purpose behind their work and a community of like-minded people committed to that work. One of the best ways to showcase this is a cohesive, consistent, and clearly articulated employer brand.
Sounds like a great idea, but many companies are unsure where to start when it comes to building an internal employer brand. One branding expert interviewed in Human Resource Executive asserts that the same tools it takes to build a successful consumer-facing brand can solve employer-branding challenges. To do it best, though, she cautions companies be ready to invest similar time, talent, and money needed for a successful external brand.
Once companies have made the moves to create or translate a successful consumer-facing brand promise to something that will resonate internally, it’s time to talk the talk. Whether new help wanted ads or better training for recruiters at job fairs or during interviews, there’s a strong need for education about not just what that employer brand promise is, but how to talk about it.
Employer brands are most successful when companies ensure recruiters understand and can articulate the brand promise. In part, this is because there’s more and more potential for other people to be talking about your business. The opportunity for an individual to express opinions — good or bad — about a business have grown tremendously with the rise of social media. Public negativity can wreak havoc on a brand and come from almost anywhere. Imagine a potential hire sharing about an interview gone wrong, current employees or former workers posting about daily frustrations, or even disappointed customers leaving a negative review.
Beyond impacting the consumer-facing brand and a business’s bottom line, social sharing may impact the employer brand, too. Rather than just hoping for the best, being proactive is critical. According to HR Dive, a brand advocacy program, when done thoughtfully, can help promote a best-foot-forward impression for your employer brand. While brand advocacy is not new on the consumer side, it’s becoming more of a topic of interest on the employer side as well.
The key to doing it successfully? Create authentic opportunities in 2019 that your employees will be excited about. Pre-written posts or forced photo ops are something to avoid. Instead, employers should look for ways to regularly share your brand promise. Try including culture and values in your upcoming internal communications and storytelling. Celebrate employees who embody your brand promise. Keep employees in the know about exciting company news and provide language (but not scripts) for how to talk about it. Making it voluntary, authentic, easy and organic is most likely to help your employees become your advocates.
While we live so much of our lives online, off-line opportunities like social or volunteer events can help inspire employees to talk up your employer brand. A happy, engaged employee is more likely to refer great hires, promote company culture, or share news.
A recent Forbes piece suggests getting creative: look for ways to sponsor local events, share your employer brand in ways your employees can share, revamp job descriptions to better leverage brand storytelling, or rethink your company homepage to highlight hiring. With so many potential points of contact, there are a million ways to improve how your employer brand is cultivated and shared.
Putting your purposeful employer brand in front of the people you want to hire in thoughtful ways may just be the best resolution your company makes in 2019.