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What Elements Make a Strong Employment Brand? A Comprehensive Guide

What Elements Make a Strong Employment Brand
What Elements Make a Strong Employment Brand? A Comprehensive Guide
Discover the essential components that contribute to a robust employment brand. Learn what elements make a strong employment brand.
Posted in: Business Management
What Elements Make a Strong Employment Brand
What Elements Make a Strong Employment Brand? A Comprehensive Guide

 A growing number of companies are witnessing signs of accelerated growth. In response, there's an increasing recognition of the importance of establishing a strong employment brand, reflecting a well-managed and desirable workplace. 

Historically, while senior executives have focused on developing product brands — attributing a significant part of their market value to these brands — the concept of nurturing an employer brand is a more recent realization.

Employment brand management, gaining traction since the late 1990s but somewhat hindered by economic downturns, remains a concept not fully understood or correctly applied by many. This lack of understanding and application has led to confusion about what elements make a strong employment brand.  

Employment branding is a deliberate and ongoing strategy aimed at shaping the perceptions and awareness of current and potential employees, as well as other key stakeholders, about a specific company. 

This strategy is pivotal in enhancing recruitment, retention, and productivity. It involves consistently promoting an image that showcases the company's management and business practices as exemplary, positioning the organization as an ideal workplace.

Effective employment branding results in increased visibility and reputation, leading to a consensus among employees, industry observers, managers from other companies, and top talent that the company is a premier employer.  84% of job seekers use company reputation to inform job applications.

The fruits of a successful employment branding strategy are manifold: a rise in both the quantity and quality of job applicants, a decrease in turnover rates among high performers, and a boost in overall employee productivity. 

For employment branding to succeed, it must be well-coordinated and comprise several key elements, ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach.

Definitions of employer branding

  • Employer branding is the perception and reputation of a company as an employer. It is the overall image that a company projects to both current and prospective employees, and it is shaped by a variety of factors, including the company's culture, values, benefits, and leadership.
  • Employer branding is a strategic marketing and communication process that aims to attract, retain, and engage top talent. It involves defining the company's employer value proposition (EVP), which is the unique set of benefits and experiences that the company offers to its employees.
  • Employer branding is the practice of building a company's reputation as an attractive and desirable place to work. It is about creating a positive image of the company that resonates with potential and current employees.
  • Employer branding is a way for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors in the war for talent. It can help to attract top talent, improve employee engagement, and reduce turnover.

Here are some key elements of employer branding:

  • Employee value proposition (EVP): The EVP is the unique set of benefits and experiences that the company offers to its employees.
  • Employee brand messaging: The company's messaging about its employer brand should be consistent and clear across all channels.
  • Employee experience: The company should strive to create a positive and engaging employee experience.
  • Employee advocacy: The company should encourage its employees to be advocates for the brand.

What makes a strong brand

What makes a strong brand

You might be asking yourslef what makes a strong brand or additional characteristics of a strong brand:

  • Memorable: A strong brand is easy to remember. It has a strong visual identity and memorable tagline.
  • Emotional: A strong brand evokes an emotional response from its customers. It makes them feel something, whether it's happiness, excitement, or trust.
  • Trusted: A strong brand is trusted. Customers believe that the brand is reliable and will deliver on its promises.
  • Loyal: A strong brand has loyal customers. They are willing to pay a premium for the brand's products or services and recommend it to others.

Building a strong brand is an ongoing process and incorporating those elements of a strong brand is very important. 

It requires a commitment to quality, innovation, and customer service.  Read more: What Can a Strong Brand Message Do For Your Company?

Who's responsible for employer branding?

When contemplating strategies for enhancing employer branding, the initial focus often lands on the HR department. 

While HR indeed plays a crucial role in the official actions taken by a company to boost its employer brand, it's essential to recognize that employer brand isn't merely a choice but a reflection of what a company inherently is. 

The identity of a company is shaped by various stakeholders:

  • Founders or business owners, along with the CEO and all C-suite executives, who provide a strategic vision and establish core values.
  • Line managers responsible for leading, evaluating, and training their teams.
  • The HR team, managing employee relations and setting company policies.
  • The marketing team, responsible for external communication of company news through channels like social media and events.

All these stakeholders contribute to how a company is perceived by potential employees. However, to establish a robust employer brand, collaboration is key. 

For instance, the marketing team can't effectively promote the happiness of employees enjoying benefits like bonuses and flexible working hours unless these initiatives are sanctioned by senior management and implemented by HR.

In essence, employer branding isn't exclusively the responsibility of HR. It demands a collective effort, necessitating collaboration and communication among all company stakeholders. 

Only through this unified approach can companies forge a compelling and authentic employer brand that appeals to and retains top talent.

What are the benefits of having a strong employer brand

A strong employer brand yields numerous benefits for organizations, influencing both internal and external dimensions of their operations. 

A compelling employer brand acts as a powerful magnet for top talent, attracting skilled professionals who align with the company's values and vision. This results in a more competitive recruitment process, enabling the organization to choose from a pool of high-caliber candidates who are eager to contribute to the company's success. 

Moreover, a positive employer brand contributes to employee retention, fostering a sense of loyalty and commitment among current staff who take pride in being associated with a reputable and esteemed employer.

Secondly, a robust employer brand enhances organizational credibility and trust. When a company is known for treating its employees well and providing a positive work environment, it not only attracts talent but also garners respect from clients, partners, and the wider community. 

This increased trust can lead to better business relationships, improved customer satisfaction, and a positive impact on the company's overall reputation.

Thirdly, a strong employer brand serves as a valuable asset in times of change or crisis. 

Companies with a positive reputation as employers are better equipped to navigate challenges, as employees are more likely to remain loyal and resilient during turbulent periods. Additionally, a positive employer brand can act as a buffer against negative publicity, helping the organization maintain its standing even in the face of adversity.

Key benefits of a strong employer brand include:

  • Enhanced Talent Attraction: Draws top-tier talent to the organization, facilitating a more competitive recruitment process.
  • Improved Employee Retention: Fosters loyalty among existing employees, reducing turnover and associated costs.
  • Increased Organizational Credibility: Builds trust with stakeholders, including clients, partners, and the broader community, positively impacting business relationships.
  • Resilience in Times of Change: Acts as a stabilizing force during periods of change or crisis, as employees are more likely to remain committed to a well-regarded employer.
  • Mitigation of Negative Publicity: Serves as a buffer against negative publicity, preserving the company's reputation even in challenging circumstances.

How to build your employer branding strategy

 Establishing a robust employer brand involves a dual approach: firstly, genuinely embody the qualities of a good employer, and secondly, effectively convey your employer value proposition (EVP) to attract top-tier talent.

To fulfill the role of a commendable employer, prioritize the fair and respectful treatment of everyone interacting with your company, whether they are existing employees or potential candidates. Read more: 7 Pro Tips For Building Your HR Brand

his entails implementing inclusive hiring practices, ensuring unbiased opportunities for all job seekers, regardless of their background. 

Additionally, value candidates' time by objectively assessing applications and delivering timely and transparent feedback. Establishing fair and equitable policies contributes to a supportive work environment, promoting employee well-being and a sense of value. 

Offer competitive compensation and benefits packages aligned with industry standards, fostering work-life balance, and provide comprehensive career development plans to encourage professional growth within the company.

Simultaneously, while cultivating a positive work environment, strategically promote your employer brand to highlight your company's unique value proposition and appeal to top talent:

  • Engaging Social Media Presence: Showcase your workspaces, team activities, and company culture through captivating images and videos on social media platforms.
  • Compelling Career Pages: Develop informative and engaging career pages on your website, offering insights into your company's values and available career opportunities.
  • Employee Storytelling: Empower your workforce to share authentic experiences and perspectives through videos, testimonials, blog posts, and other channels, spotlighting the positive aspects of working at your company.
  • Interactive Career Events: Organize dynamic career fairs and events at your offices, providing prospective employees with opportunities to firsthand experience your company culture and engage with current team members.

Here are 8 Elements that Help to Make a Strong Employment Brand

Here are 8 Elements that Help to Make a Strong Employment Brand

1. Cultivating a Culture of Openness and Progressive Improvement 

For any employment branding initiative to thrive, an organization must not shy away from showcasing its exceptional management practices. 

In many companies, there's a prevalent culture of understatement, often preventing or outright prohibiting managers from externally promoting their successful strategies. 

Such a reserved approach might have been the norm before the 1990s, a time when the impact of public relations was questioned, and the monetary value of such publicity was largely speculative.

Today, however, with advanced technology linking public exposure to increases in sales and market value, actively promoting achievements has become standard in leading corporations like GE, Cisco, Southwest Airlines, and Wal-Mart. 

To avoid falling into obscurity, it's crucial for senior management to not only recognize the importance of employment branding but also to actively foster and celebrate the dissemination of best practices. 

The cornerstone of a robust employment brand lies in a leadership team that not only encourages but also measures and rewards the development and sharing of these practices, supported by processes that facilitate quick knowledge transfer across business units. 

2. Striking the Right Balance: Effective Management & Enhanced Productivity 

While distinct benefits and commendable community involvement contribute to a firm's external image, the core of any employment brand fundamentally lies in the firm's management practices. 

Regrettably, in their quest to be recognized for superior management, some companies can go to extremes in their efforts to present a positive image. 

This emphasis on appearance can sometimes lead to a relaxation in management rigor or a diminished focus on the crucial aspect of workforce productivity. 

Considering that the ultimate goal of any HR strategy should be to heighten workforce productivity — essentially, maximizing the return on investment for each dollar spent on employees — any branding endeavor needs to carefully balance a positive image with productivity enhancement.

Conversely, a singular focus on boosting productivity can lead managers to neglect sound management principles in pursuit of short-term output gains. This approach, although possibly effective initially, often results in long-term productivity declines and heightened employment costs. 

Negative consequences of prioritizing productivity over sound management include increased employee burnout, higher error rates, reduced customer satisfaction, and elevated turnover rates, particularly among top talent accustomed to excellent management.

Therefore, to ensure a robust employment brand and elevated employee productivity, companies must measure and incentivize a harmonious balance between implementing effective management practices and striving to enhance employee productivity.

3. Gaining Recognition in the Public Eye

​ The surge in focus on employment branding over the last decade can be attributed significantly to the increasing number of organizations and publications that rank 'great places to work'. 

While it's acknowledged that many of these rankings favor companies offering exceptional benefits, the publicity and credibility gained from being featured on such lists are undeniable. 

Often, the recognition extends beyond just making the list — local media, trade journals, and industry publications frequently highlight companies featured, amplifying their visibility. 

This level of exposure not only enhances a firm's reputation but also reinforces its appeal as an attractive workplace. 

Notable among these lists are those published by Fortune and Working Mother Magazines, which stand out for their influence and reach.

4. Encouraging Employees to Share Their Experiences  

A key characteristic of a strong employment brand is employees actively sharing positive narratives about their company's management and business practices, and the influence these have had on their lives. 

Rather than just responding when asked, employees in firms with a robust brand often voluntarily share their experiences with others, both within and outside the organization. 

This type of organic advocacy, or viral marketing, involves employees talking about their positive experiences at work with friends, family, and acquaintances, even in casual settings like professional gatherings or during travel. 

This behavior not only builds internal morale, boosting pride and retention but also extends the firm's reputation externally, enhancing the quality and quantity of employee referrals for vacancies. 

The effectiveness of employees voluntarily advocating for their workplace surpasses any promotional efforts the company itself could undertake. Ultimately, the perception of being a great place to work must emanate from the employees.

5. Garnering Attention in the Business Press  

In today's diverse and influential media landscape, gaining recognition in specific business publications has become critical for strengthening an employment brand. Being featured in the business press is akin to a restaurant receiving a rave review. 

External endorsements of a company's management practices can have a more profound impact than any self-promotion or employment advertisement.

Achieving this level of exposure involves two key elements. Firstly, company leaders must proactively share insights into their management practices through public speaking engagements and writing for publications. 

This approach not only disseminates information more broadly but also increases the likelihood of catching the attention of journalists and editors. Research indicates that a significant portion of a company's employment brand is linked to the CEO's image and reputation in the business community.

The second element is actively engaging with the business press. 

By making company managers accessible to reporters and editors, there's a greater chance that the company's best practices will be highlighted in media articles, significantly boosting the firm's visibility. 

This strategic approach to media relations is crucial in amplifying the employment brand and solidifying the company's reputation as an exemplary employer.

6. Becoming a Benchmark Firm

The pinnacle of well-managed firms is often reserved for benchmark firms—those that epitomize best practices coveted by others. 

To establish a great employment brand, management must actively engage in significant benchmarking studies and respond thoughtfully to those that recognize your company's best practices. 

The outcome of this strategic involvement is the widespread acknowledgment and respect of your firm garners, making it one of the most cited and esteemed names in management circles worldwide. Over time, this recognition permeates down to the community level. 

Since much of benchmarking begins online, assess your "benchmark shadow" or exposure by conducting a Google search pairing your firm's name with the functional area (e.g., "General Electric" + HR). 

Compare your visibility score with that of your competitors to gauge the extent of recognition for your management practices.

7. Increasing Awareness of Your Best Practices Among Candidates

While some companies are renowned for their product brands, their management practices may remain relatively obscure. 

An exceptional employment brand doesn't merely raise potential applicants' awareness of the company but goes a step further by acquainting them with the management practices that make it an appealing workplace. 

To achieve this, craft targeted messages for potential applicants, encouraging them to apply for your roles based on your management and business practices. 

This entails each major business function making it a performance objective to educate potential applicants about their best practices. Highlight these practices at trade shows, in recruitment materials, annual reports, and prominently on the company's website. 

Given that many potential applicants research companies through their websites, it's crucial that the corporate site conveys information that both educates and excites applicants about your management and business practices.

8. Evaluating Branding Success Through Metrics  

Just as building a product brand requires ongoing effort and adaptation, employment brands are no different. 

They must continually evolve and enhance. The key to this continuous improvement lies in utilizing brand assessment measures or metrics. 

Any branding campaign should commence with side-by-side comparison figures that serve as benchmarks for gauging the relative success and progress of the endeavor. 

Branding metrics should be integrated into the evaluation criteria for all major business functions and their leaders. Improvement hinges on measurement, and what you measure, discuss, and reward sends a clear message about what truly matters to everyone involved.

Wrapping up Strong Employment Brand

Employment branding and the associated strategies for its creation and management represent potent tools that can significantly enhance your organization's HR function. Frequently, HR departments focus on impacting the firm's bottom line through cost-containment measures.

However, such initiatives often fall short in enhancing quality or productivity. In contrast, employment branding has the potential to elevate the quality of your workforce, inspire greater productivity among employees, and open new doors in the marketplace that were previously inaccessible. 

In essence, employment branding can effectively address many of the challenges confronting corporations today. 

Disregarding this concept and its empowering elements is a surefire way to jeopardize your firm's future, relegating it to the corporate graveyard.

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Sunday, 14 April 2024
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