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Why Organizations Need to Build and Foster a Strong Employer Brand

It’s a job seeker’s market right now, and organizations are struggling to find candidates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 10.9 million job openings at the end of 2021, yet only 6.3 million hires were made. In December 2021, 49% of businesses had jobs they could not fill and 95% of those organizations say it’s because they didn’t have any or only had a few qualified candidates.

In today’s war for talent, it’s clear that job candidates are being more discerning now than in the past, and they can be. With the power of selection changing hands – from organizations to candidates – it's more important than ever that companies stand out among the crowd. Of course, benefits, compensation, PTO, and more flexibility are great ways to attract top talent, but there is also a need for a solid employer brand reputation.

What Is Your Employer Brand?

Every organization that is looking to hire has to put its best foot forward, and there is no better way to do that than with positive word of mouth, reviews, and a good reputation in your industry. To achieve that, you have to invest the time, energy, and budget into creating an authentic and attractive employer brand and marketing it to job candidates.

An employer brand refers to the organization’s reputation as a workplace and the impression that the company makes on current, past, and potential employees. It is how employees see and feel about the company, and it should be a good representation of who the company is, what it stands for, what makes it stand out as an employer of choice, and what creates an emotional connection to the organization. It should also incorporate an organization’s mission, vision, values, culture, and employee value proposition (EVP, the collection of features and benefits used by an employer to market its organization to employees).

While developing a strong employer brand is a good first start, it really comes down to how you present it to the job market and your current employees as they are your best ambassadors.

The Importance of a Good Employer Brand

Marketing your employer brand well can impact your organization in myriad ways. It helps in recruiting, hiring/interviewing, and retaining your employees. But only when your brand matches the actual employee experience. It is very important that what you are selling is what candidates and employees are buying.

Our research has found that employees are less likely to stay with an organization that does not meet their top five EVP attributes. Additionally, a survey by Jobvite found that nearly 30% of new employees left a job within the first 90 days citing a mismatch between the actual employee experience in the organization and the employer brand as stated during the hiring process. If these statistics tell us anything, it’s that organizations are not appropriately telling their brand story.

But the good news is that employers are beginning to turn this around. Research from LinkedIn indicates that 59% of HR leaders from around the globe are going to invest more in their employer brand. By investing in the brand, your organization can ensure it truly matches the employee experience. This will pay off in multiple ways.

  1. Increase the number of qualified candidates. According to Glassdoor, 50% of candidates will not work for or look at openings from companies with bad reputations. Good workers want to work for good companies. Your employer brand is the first chance to prove that’s what you are.
  2. Reduce the cost of hiring. LinkedIn found that organizations with strong employer brands saved 43% in cost per hire over businesses with a poor reputation. This is because companies with poor reputations have to spend more time and money recruiting and interviewing and offer salary increases to persuade candidates to accept positions.
  3. Improve employee retention and engagement. Officevibe found that employee turnover can be reduced by 28% by investing in the employer brand. Employees are more likely to stay at companies they believe in, they feel emotionally connected to, and that are meeting their EVP. This, in return, helps improve employee engagement over time.

Of course, to achieve these benefits, your organization must have a good employer brand and communicate it well. Most important to note is that whether your organization is actively managing its employer brand or not, it exists. You have to understand it and manage it.

Assessing and Marketing Your Employer Brand

The first step to delivering on your employer brand is to assess your current reputation, then define what employees and prospective employees want from your organization, compare that to what your organization is able to deliver on, and then you will be able to create your new employer brand. So, how do you do that?

  1. Talk to your employees. Give them a way to honestly express their opinion and share what they believe your employer brand is. Focus groups and employee surveys are a great way to do this. Ask employees for three to five words they would use to describe the company culture and use their responses to create word clouds. Ask them about what attracted them to the organization and why they stay. Provide a mix of question types (open-ended, multiple-choice, rating, etc.) as well as a mix of surveys, including pulse surveys, exit surveys, candidate/hiring surveys, onboarding surveys, and engagement surveys.
  2. Look at your employee survey scores. Even if you can’t initiate a new survey to ask directly about culture or brand, you can glean information from the survey results you already have. If you use eNPS, are your employees saying they will recommend your company as a good place to work? If yes, then they are good brand ambassadors for your organization. Onboarding surveys can help root out misalignment in what is promised versus what is received when it comes to culture, environment, training, expectations, etc. Additionally, are your employees engaged? Is that engagement score increasing or decreasing? How are employees rating their managers? All of these things can help you understand the employee experience and how it reflects your employer brand.
  3. Review outside sources as if you were a prospect. Take a look at everything candidates and employees might see – career sites, job descriptions, social media, Glassdoor, etc. These are all fantastic sources of information. Also, look at your competitors and see how they are marketing their recruitment efforts. Look at their new hire announcements and see if they are scoring talent who you are not. You can learn a lot by looking at things like an outsider would.
  4. Consider everything that will make you an employer of choice. This includes everything in the EVP as well as salary, benefits, growth opportunities, values, community involvement, and more, and determine how to include that in your messaging. Today’s job seekers want companies that are inclusive and diverse and that align with their values, so consider how you present yourself in those areas.
  5. Define your employer brand and live it! This is the most important aspect. Once you arrive at a brand, it has to be authentic, compelling, accurate, and lived by your executive leadership, managers, and hiring team every day. You need to get buy-in from your team for it to be successful.

Take Control of Your Reputation

So much of the recruitment and candidate hiring process is out of your control – especially in this market. However, your organization’s brand and its reputation are something that you can – and must – take control of if you intend to succeed in the war for talent.

While much of the focus is on recruiting, don’t forget about your current employees too. They should not just be a source of information in helping determine your brand, but they should also be thought of as consumers of your brand. They are your best referral source so their happiness and engagement save your organization time and money and will drive your business forward. Remember, your employer brand must evolve with your employees. Continue to measure and monitor your company’s mission, vision, values, and brand to ensure your employees are still on board.

Perceptyx can help! With our robust employee listening platform, we help our clients design, launch, analyze, and act on employee survey results. Collaboratively, we identify and remove barriers from culture, technology, and workspace perspectives that are hindering the building of a successful employer brand and overall employee experience.

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