Employer Branding Playbook
Employer branding, and the work culture that supports it, make a real difference to employees and to your bottom line.
Are you having difficulties recruiting in a competitive market? Seeing more employee turnover in critical roles – or across the board? Experiencing employee engagement challenges? All of the above?
A company’s employment branding is critical not only to employee recruitment, but also to the retention of current employees and their level of engagement in the organization. That engagement of employees – new and old – makes a real difference in success. According to the consulting firm Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson), companies with the most engaged employees outperform those with the least engaged employees by 10 percent in customer loyalty and engagement, 21 percent in profitability, and 20 percent in productivity.
At Signal, we believe that the employee experience drives the customer experience. We look to employees to deliver great experiences to our customers, yet many of us miss the opportunity to create great experiences for them. If you think that employer branding sounds like a “soft” activity, think again. With its focus on engagement, employer branding plays a leading role in creating the climate for a company’s financial health.
Step 1: Assess the current state
The first step in Signal’s process is to examine the current state of an organization’s employment branding to identify opportunities. There are many potential sources of good information.
Glean insights from current data
During your review, note positive themes for focus or expansion, and opportunities for improvement, for example:
- Areas scoring the highest (or lowest) in exit interviews
- What new hires say they are looking for in a company
- Data from employee engagement surveys
Take the temperature
A two-pronged approach can give you invaluable insight into the employee experience of your company and culture – helping you to determine what drew current employees to your company and what keeps them there. First, interview subject matter experts such as executives and team members from Marketing, HR and Talent Acquisition. Then, conduct a short online survey of a similar representative group of employees.
Sample survey questions
- What first attracted you to the company?
- What sets the company apart from other organizations you’ve worked for?
- What one word best characterizes your company’s culture?
- Describe the opportunities you’ve found at the company and how you have charted your career.
- Describe the support you get for your work at the company (coworkers, supervisor, tools and technologies, etc.).
- What makes you proud to be part of the company?
Conduct competitive analysis
In addition to determining what employees think of your company, it’s important to get an idea of how your online presence stacks up against competitors. Take a detailed look at:
- Branding on the homepage
- Design, messaging and navigation on careers pages
- Branding language in job postings
- Reviews that may be available on review sites like Glassdoor
- Messaging and presence on various social channels
Step 2: Create a value proposition
A clear and engaging employee value proposition, or EVP, can help you communicate and shape your work culture.
What’s your WHY?
Very few organizations know WHY they do what they do. WHY is not about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason your organization exists!
In his viral TEDx talk, which has now been viewed over 43 million times, Simon Sinek talked about the cosmic shift that is happening between companies and their clients – why some companies are struggling and some are succeeding on a massive scale – the difference is “the WHY.”
When thinking about your EVP, consider that people want to work with people and companies who have the same ideals that they do. When we communicate our purpose or cause first – our WHY – we communicate in a way that drives decision-making and behavior. It literally taps the part of the brain that inspires behavior.
“People want to work with people and companies who have the same ideals as they do.”
– Phil Stephens, VP Client Services, Signal
Employee value proposition
The EVP describes the total value the company offers to its employees in return for their hard work. It answers why a candidate should come to work for your company – as well as why current employees should be engaged and stay. Your EVP is also a great starting point for creating a short, impactful statement about your employment brand: the tagline. While the EVP encapsulates the company’s competitive advantage, the tagline is your “rallying cry.”
Read our feature, “Improving Employee Recruitment and Retention,” for details on how to create your employment value proposition and tagline.
Step 3: Define your messages
Once your EVP and tagline have been created, the next step is to develop a new messaging framework meant to align communications and help communicate the EVP to candidates and employees. Consistent messaging helps you communicate what’s unique and special about working for your company.
“Technological advances have made it much easier for companies to understand customers on an individual basis. Even so, engaging with customers is still undertaken largely through personal contact. And there’s no shortcut to creating emotional connections with customers; it requires ensuring that every interaction is geared toward leaving them with a positive experience. That takes more than great products and services—it takes motivated, empowered frontline employees.”
Now that you’ve got your new messaging platform, it’s time to think about different audiences. Do you need to carve out specific messages for certain employee groups such as IT or Sales? From a talent acquisition perspective, you may want to define messaging for early talent / recent grads, experienced candidates and even alumni of your company who you want to win back.
Using your messaging platform as a starting point, you can step off engagement and recruiting pieces for both internal and external. Examples include:
- Landing pages
- Executive presentations
- Internal documents
- Video recommendations
- Social assets
- Tradeshow assets
- Event assets
Your new messaging platform can help to create a consistent understanding of the value of working for the company, providing key messages for candidates. Giving all recruiters and hiring managers the same “source of truth” arms them to more effectively:
- Build familiarity with the company.
- Promote consideration of employment with the company.
- Create a preference for working for the company.
- Move candidates to acceptance of a position with the company.
- Foster trust, loyalty and advocacy with employees so that they will tell others about the company.
Give ‘em proof
When stepping off your recruitment collateral, make sure to back up your claims with proof points to make a more convincing argument for the attractiveness of your company.
Meh: “Our company has very low turnover and is a great place to work.”
YES: “Our company has been recognized as a Great Place to Work and our average turnover rate for the past 3 years was 13% on average.”
Step 4: Help cascade your brand through the organization
A new employer brand isn’t just about the posters, slogans and lapel pins – it’s about bringing it to life within the organization. All the collateral in the world won’t make a difference unless you align your culture with the new brand. This means a fundamental shift in how the organization operates from the top down to demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability. People managers are your greatest asset here, and training these leaders on your new employment brand will effectively spread the information.
“Determine what behaviors & beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them.”
– Brittany Forsyth / VP of HR, Shopify
Questions to ask when thinking about your manager training
- How can you bring your new EVP and supporting messaging to life?
- How should the new information be embedded into HR processes such as recruitment, performance management and training?
- What supporting tools do people managers need?
Step 5: Measure your efforts
As with any communication campaign, the final step is to circle back to the success metrics you defined at the beginning of your process to see how your efforts have moved the needle. This step will also help you plan for the evolution of your employment brand.
Ready to take your company’s employer branding to the next level? Wondering how to help your organizational culture work for you? The Signal team is here to help.