Breathing New Life into a Stale Employer Brand

If your organization has been having difficulty finding and retaining the talent it needs, it may be due in part to a stale employer brand. Not to be confused with your company brand — which encompasses the messaging, perceptions and valuation your customers have of your organization’s products and services — your employer brand is your reputation as a great place to work or an awful place to work.

If you suspect your employer brand is less than stellar, it’s time to start approaching talent attraction and retention in the same way you would your company brand. That approach typically requires asking the following questions: What messages is your company trying to convey? What impact does the organization want to have? How do your employer and company brands intersect to promote your company mission?

At a time when skills gaps are problematic across many industries, and unemployment among professionals and managers has remained around 2% for over a year, a business-as-usual attitude is no longer acceptable. Top candidates have options, and they are gravitating toward companies that have strong employer brands.

According to my company’s 2018 Reputation Management Study, 71% of employers say employer brand strength is important or very important when a candidate is evaluating a job offer. Yet many companies do little to ensure that their company culture remains appealing and is not harming their reputation or their business. A 2017 survey by CareerArc confirms that although 96% of companies believe employer brand and reputation can impact revenue, only 44% monitor that impact.

In terms of ensuring an engaging company culture and monitoring the impact of employer brand, here are some companies that are leading the way:

-PwC: One of PwC’s most innovative branding techniques is the employee stories on its career pages, where individual employees are highlighted through photos, bios, Q&A sessions and career timelines. Not only do these stories give job seekers a good idea of the kinds of people they’d work with at PwC, but they also show how PwC can help them meet their long-term career needs.

-L’Oréal: L’Oréal, which has been consistently honored by such entities as Fortune as one of the world’s best places to work, developed an employee value proposition by soliciting input from its employees. The EVP touts “a thrilling experience,” “an environment that will inspire you” and “a school of excellence for prospective employees.”

As these examples demonstrate, employer branding is not simply an initiative to attract talent. It is a business-wide strategy that supports long-term growth, improves employee retention and builds upon the overall company brand. In short, it offers invaluable returns for companies that make the investment in becoming a place where people take pride in working. Now that you understand some of the attributes of companies that have strong employer brands, here are a few tips on how to take their lead:

Engage your current high performers

Initiate conversations with them to understand why they work for your organization and why they stay. Find common messages among these employees that can be promoted to prospective talent. Invite your A-players to serve as brand ambassadors, sharing these employee messages and experiences through your career site, social media, PR and marketing materials. Your top performers are often already engaging in PR to promote the company as well as their own personal brands (as I discussed in a recent article), so it makes sense that they would also be ideal to serve as your employer brand ambassadors.

Tap the networks of your employees

Since talented employees know other talented individuals who would be a great fit for their organizations, encourage and enable them to share job postings with their social networks. People are more likely to respond to a job listing forwarded by a friend. According to Jobvite’s Social Recruiting Survey, 41% of recruiters and hiring managers said referrals remain the top source for quality talent, followed by internal hires and social/professional networks. My company echoed these findings in its Reputation Management Study, with almost 60% of candidate respondents ranking employee referrals as their top method for evaluating employer brands.

Pay close attention to the candidate experience

Develop a mobile-friendly career website where your job postings and application forms are fully compatible with smartphones. Keep the application process streamlined by offering both “apply with LinkedIn” and “join our talent community” options, ideally with a one-click application. Evaluate your career pages frequently and breathe new life into them as often as possible. Consider whether they’re too text-heavy or even too boring. Use real visuals if possible, instead of stock images. Monitor where candidates go on your site and make sure the message you’re sending attracts the right talent. Go beyond just posting jobs and touting your company awards. Initiate meaningful conversations, involve your own employees and make it fun and interesting. Try applying to your own openings to get a handle on the candidate experience. Is your process awkward and time-consuming? If it frustrates you, it will also frustrate potential candidates.

Limit your efforts

Although the opportunities to spread your employer brand through social media are limitless, your company resources are not. Restrict your outreach efforts to tools that can deliver the most impact and that you can sustain. Convincing job seekers that your company is fun, engaging and accomplishing exciting things is tough to do with a blog, Twitter account or Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in weeks.

Evidence keeps mounting that employer branding is one of the most powerful tools to attract great talent to your company. Thanks to PR, social media and review sites like Glassdoor, that branding can be accomplished on a modest budget if you are creative, authentic and in tune with the talent market.

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Written by Nysha King, Media Relations Lead for MRINetwork, for Forbes Communications Council