5 Easy Steps to Manage Your Employer Brand

Sydney Frazer | 11th November 2016

In today’s job market, the search for talent can be daunting. The increasingly competitive hiring landscape means employers need to use any advantage they can to beat out the competition. Some of the smartest companies are getting ahead of the pack by leveraging their reputation to attract and retain top talent.

However, you think about your reputation, it’s important to realise that it’s ultimately your employer brand. Do you know what it is? How do you think people view you as an employer, not just a company? When did you last look at your employer brand? If the answer is “not recently”, it is time to begin actively managing it.

Consider the following steps to cultivate and promote an environment that attracts high quality talent:

1. Understand Why

Without understanding the importance of employer branding, it’s almost impossible to get buy-in from key players. Being able to articulate the real implications of employer brand is the first step. Once you and other stakeholders understand why employer branding is so important, you can take the necessary steps to build up an intentional and effective recruiting reputation.

If you don’t know where to start, look at the recent data. Work It Daily found that about 80% of job seekers research an employer online before even submitting an application. Do a quick Google search on your company to see what potential candidates are finding out. Are the results heartening or do they leave room for improvement?

It’s not just during the application process that reputation matters. A recent study by Corporate Responsibility Magazine found that 69% of job seekers would reject a job offer from a company with a bad rep. A Glassdoor study further confirms this trend, finding that more than two-thirds of respondents indicated that they would apply for a job with a company with an actively managed brand. As the research shows, even if you aren’t paying attention to your employer brand, your applicants certainly are!

What’s more, the impact of employer branding extends well beyond recruiting. The same Corporate Responsibility Magazine study shows that 84% of current employees would consider leaving their job to accept a position at a company with an impressive reputation. It all translates to one thing: a better employer brand allows you to retain and attract talent, saving you time and recruiting costs.

2. Know What You’re Working With

Get started by monitoring your reputation so you can get an idea of what you are working with. If you’ve followed the first step and done a quick internet search on your company, you are on the right path. Take it a step further by getting input from those who know your employer reputation the best – your current employees!

Give your employees a way to give anonymous feedback and take note of what trends emerge. Make sure that you follow-up on these feedback requests so that employees feel respected and heard. The more you can do to take action based on people’s input, the better. Be sure to also monitor chatter on social media, Quora and Glassdoor to see what people are saying.

While current employees are an excellent way to take inventory of your brand, don’t stop there. Look to incoming candidates as well as exiting employees to get a deeper understanding of your current employer brand. During interviews, ask candidates what they know about your company and what associations they make with it. Are there certain questions that come up more frequently than others? For departing employees, be sure to perform an exit interview. People tend to be the most honest on the way out, and often have valuable insights to contribute.

This well-rounded approach to feedback can help you to identify common themes in the way people think about your employer brand. You may find that there are a lot of misconceptions that are easy to fix, or some deeper issues that need reconsidering. You’ll also develop a better understanding of what matters most to people and can look to feature it more prominently in recruiting and internal communications.

3. Build Your Team

The best companies to work for don’t leave their employer brand up to chance. They dedicate time and resources to their brand, and get buy-in from top level executives. Employer brand is never just one person’s responsibility, but a company-wide effort. If you’re wondering where to start, consider the following key players:

  • Human Resources: Your HR team understands your company’s employment needs best. They should help identify areas for improvement based on metrics like retention rates and cost-per-hire. They are often the first line in recruiting, and have their fingers on the pulse of how candidates are thinking about your company.
  • Marketing: Allow this team to guide your messaging using their branding and advertising expertise. What your company puts out in the world is seen by potential employees and customers alike. Make sure there’s alignment between both realms.
  • Public Relations: Your PR team should communicate both internally and externally to share exciting news about your company. If you’re about to experience a major company transition or change, use the PR team to help set the tone and set expectations.
  • C-suite: Buy-in from key leaders is necessary. They should be setting the tone for your brand and actively promoting it. Whatever your company brand may be, make sure that executives present themselves in a way that aligns with your core mission and values.

4. Measure, Measure, Measure

Without collecting data, you won’t know where you are or where you need to go. Recruiting and retention metrics like employee engagement technology can help you gauge how and if brand management efforts are paying off, and in what ways. Your HR team likely tracks most of these metrics already for employment and recruiting purposes – though may not have previously considered them as indicators of employer brand health:

  • Cost-per-hire
  • Time-to-hire
  • Qualified applicant rate
  • Retention rate
  • Employee satisfaction

You might also consider baselining other metrics like overall company ratings, CEO approval ratings, and interview experience ratings.

Once you have gathered your data, define goals for your employer branding efforts and set a time-based plan. Check in on these numbers periodically to understand how your brand is changing and get a sense of how various adjustments affect your brand and recruiting.

5. Make An Action Plan

Now that you understand the various pieces of employer brand management, considering the following actionable steps:

  • Be transparent. Promote the positive, but also acknowledge the negative and how you plan to move forward and address people’s concerns. If there are pieces that are especially well-loved, find ways to amplify them.
  • Encourage regular feedback. Keeping feedback consistent is key to an open communication loop. And be sure to let candidates and employees know that you are listening by responding to feedback, tailoring responses to each platform.
  • Craft your message. Make it consistent and intentional. Highlight what makes your company different or a great place to work and then align that with the reputation you want to cultivate.
  • Know your audience. Identify your ideal job candidate and find the right way to reach them. Tailor your message and outreach accordingly.
  • Be proactive. How you spread the word about your employer brand is up to you. Whether you designate specific employees to serve as brand ambassadors, or start a blog about what it’s like to work for your company, find a way to spread the word. Crafting your brand is key.

With the ever-changing recruiting landscape and a candidate-driven jobs space, your employer brand is going to grow and evolve. Whether it happens with your involvement or not can have real implications for your bottom line. When you leverage a strong reputation management team, engaged employees, and an informed action plan, managing your employer brand can become yet another valuable asset to your business.