Employer branding is still a relatively new concept, which means that it’s being poorly executed and badly misunderstood in companies around the world. Here are 17 misconceptions that you should clear up right away if you want to make your employer brand stronger.
- It isn’t enough to have a great product brand.
Many employers assume that if they are product leaders, employees will be clamouring to work for them. A bit of household name prestige doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t the end-all, be-all. Think about it. Amazon.com has a great product brand: it’s a top-notch place to get all kinds of products. However, after a pretty harsh wave of criticism in 2015, it’s got a very poor employer brand. It’s known for long hours and harsh employee treatment.
- It’s about more than a rating.
Sites that provide company pay information and ratings have become a go to for curious would-be employees. However, your brand is being communicated on other channels as well. A good rating on won’t save you if your employees have said horrible things about you on Twitter, or if an expose on your management practices has just made its way into a national paper. One way to help manage how your brand is perceived by job seekers is through our sister company, JobAdvisor. They help companies communicate their brand and culture through company pages filled with information about the company and highlighted with employee reviews, from current and past employees, helping interested job seekers get the whole picture.
- It’s about more than hiring.
The employer brand is something employees have to feel every day they work within your organisation. As HBR.org says:
“The strength of the employer brand can have a significant effect on the quality, pride, and engagement levels of those employees involved in delivering a positive customer brand experience. And with other studies linking happy employees to happy customers, it’s not surprising that most companies want to align their employer and consumer brand strategies over the next few years.”
- There is no way to fake it.
You can’t just slap some slogans or mission statements on the wall and expect to build a strong employer brand. Your actions speak louder than your words do. As a recent Forbes article, The Five Loudest Messages You’re Sending Your Employees, says:
“If you’re thinking about updating your HR processes or focusing on Team Mojo in 2016, check your compensation levels first. There’s no sense in telling people in words and images how much you need them on board if their paycheck says just the opposite.
The second channel for your message “We value you!” is your physical work environment.
If it’s clean, safe, thoughtfully designed and well-maintained, your employees will see that their well-being is not an afterthought.
If your employees’ chairs don’t adjust properly anymore because they’ve been used for too long, or their equipment is out of date or mold in the air ducts is making them sick, all the team-building and morale-boosting in the world won’t help you.”
- It will never just spring up organically.
You’ll need to start with an EVP—an employer value proposition. The EVP must be consciously chosen, and it must consciously decide all of your leadership decisions, including how you will invest in your employees, how you will approach them, which kinds of benefits you will offer, policies, and more. It is, however, wise to build on the existing reasons why your current employees choose to stay with your company.
- It’s about more than salary and benefits.
Obviously salary and benefits matter (see above). But many employees are willing to take a pay cut if it means working for a company that has a stellar reputation. People want to work for companies who treat both their employees and their customers well.
- Lackluster social media involvement won’t cut it.
Social media is one of the big engines driving employer branding, but most employers aren’t taking full advantage of the platform. As HBR.org notes:
“So what are employers doing to build a stronger brand? Among those we surveyed, 61% said they had developed an Employee Value Proposition to underpin their employer branding activities. And social media has come to the fore in terms of communication. Yet, while 74% of our respondents claimed to have at least a moderate employer brand presence on social media, only a third said they had dedicated employees posting content and responding to users on a regular basis. Even more surprising was that only about half of respondents said they measure their social media activities.”
- It’s not just about attracting candidates.
It’s about understanding who will succeed at your firm, and why they will succeed. It’s about being able to pluck the right candidate out of a pool of equally talented ones.
- An EVP isn’t enough.
Many employers stop worrying about branding once they write their employee value proposition. However, managers need to be trained so they’re delivering the experience employees are being told to expect. Onboarding also plays a strong role in ensuring that employees can fit seamlessly into the new culture.
- It doesn’t stop at talent acquisition.
If you stop there, then you’ll end up promising one experience and delivering another. You have to allow your brand to permeate your entire employee culture. You also need to ensure that you have the buy-in from the rest of the company so that your branding efforts don’t remain locked up in the HR office.
- It can’t exist independent of the company’s mission and values.
If the company values integrity, then integrity should be a big part of the employer brand. It also goes without saying that you need values that go beyond, “Making as much money as possible,” unless you want to attract the kind of sharks that care for little else.
- It doesn’t have to cost a great deal.
Aside from offering smart compensation packages and updating your messaging, employer branding does not have to cost very much at all. You’ll use free tools like social media. You’ll change your mindset, and you’ll work on improving the employee experience.
- Employee surveys are not enough.
Many employer branding experts suggest using employee surveys to pinpoint both the strong points and the weak points of the employee experience. However, you also have to look at what those who have left the company have to say about their experience.
- Your website isn’t the most effective place to communicate your employer brand.
Employees don’t trust what you say about yourself any more than customers do. They’ll want to hear from former employees, and from family members and friends. You need to find ways to encourage your employees to share your brand with their own social networks. A great way of summarising your key values and what’s great about working for you is including engaging infographics. These can be used on career pages, job ads, or company blogs posts.
- It can’t be done without an active buy-in from your employees.
Your employees live the brand and must communicate the brand. They must be actively involved with helping newcomers experience the brand as well. If they don’t believe your brand is what you say it is then there will be a disconnect.
- The brand experience starts even before the employee receives an offer.
You begin to communicate your employer brand from the moment an applicant reads your job posting. Make sure that the posting is clear and accurate, that applying for the job isn’t worse than a trip to the dentist, and that your prospects are receiving clear communication about their next steps. This is one benefit to using highly professional third-party recruiters who have the time and inclination to communicate with each candidate.
- You can’t just fix it and forget it.
You constantly have to be out there monitoring your employer reputation. You also need to be constantly engaged in the process of creating a workplace experience that matches the promises you’ve been making.
Do you have any tips for maintaining a great employer brand? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
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