What is an employment brand? In short, it’s how employees and potential employees view you as an employer. As a business you go through the painstaking process of identifying your ideal customers and what they value, than work tirelessly to deliver. Your employment brand is no different. It is what defines you in the labor market–internal and external. How do you differentiate as an employer and are you actually delivering on that?
The ultimate position for a company to be in is to be perceived by both current and potential employees in a desired manner–your employment brand. An employment brand is not all that different from your company brand. If fact, they should really align with each other. It’s much easier to deliver on your employment brand if it’s aligned with your product or service brand.
Make it Intentional
An intentional employment brand is a well thought out point of view. A point of view in which a company wishes to be viewed and what they want to be known for. It’s easy to dream of yourself as an employer of choice. The question is, can you deliver.
If you don’t intentionally define your employment brand, both your current and prospective employees will define it for you. And they will share their definition of employment brand with their friends, family and network on social media. You may luck out and end up with a positive perception of your brand. Most likely you will end up with a perception that is not desirable.
When striving to differentiate from other employers in the market, it is critical that an employment brand provide for a value proposition. An employment brand needs to address certain questions that every prospective — and current– employee will have. It’s critical that you provide a value proposition.
Why should employees work for you?
What do you provide your employees that they will value? You can’t be everything to everyone so don’t try to be. For example, maybe you are in an industry that routinely has irregular shifts and schedules. You may want to differentiate yourself by working hard to set consistent schedules for your staff. This would be part of your employment brand and value proposition. Employees who value consistent schedules will want to work for you.
What do you want to be known for as an employer?
Within the circles of your ideal employees and industry you want to be known for something as an employer and you need to identify what that is and work to promote that, internally and externally. When you ask people why they like or want to work with you, their answer should match what you want to be known for. If it does, it means you have identified an employment brand that is of value and you are actually delivering on it.
In establishing your employment brand you should have taken into consideration what your ideal employee would look like. Who will fit with your culture, business model, industry needs and the type of work. Who will want to work with you and will excel in the environment you provide?
Assuming you have an established employment brand, you want to make sure that is the actual perception among the workforce. After all, perception is reality. The last thing you want to do is promote an employment brand you can’t deliver on. Just like you wouldn’t give your customers a value proposition you can’t deliver on. You’ll want to test your employment brand from time to time.
There are two areas to focus on to quickly take the temperature of your employment brand. Leverage both the court of public opinion as well as quantifiable data to validate your employment brand. Remember, perception is reality! Use the following techniques to take the pulse of your employment brand.
A great place to start is to conduct surveys with your current employees. Remember those criteria you established to identify your ideal employee? Great–now take those, turn them into a survey and send it out to your employees. Analyze the data and see where you are misaligned.
This is a great tool to use. Large organizations, especially tech companies, will use focus groups to identify if their products are delivering what customers are seeking. Identify small groups of employees within your company and speak directly with them about certain aspects of employment. You’ll find doing this in a small group setting over coffee or lunch will yield the best results.
Conduct Multi-Rater Feedback Surveys
The number one reason people are unhappy in their jobs is their manager. It is also the leading cause of turnover. You may be providing all the right benefits, working conditions, etc. that you aspire to in your employment brand, but if you have managers not executing accordingly your brand will suffer. Conducting anonymous reviews on your managers by gathering employee feedback will not only identify issues, but give your managers information to learn from.
Review Your Hiring Practices
Do your job ads, sources of applicants and interviewing process target your ideal employees and do they identify fit with your employment brand? If there is misalignment here you will not be hiring the right people and your brand will suffer.
Utilize Public Information
There are a number of free sites out there that allow for you to be able to take the pulse of current, former and prospective employees. Two popular ones are Glassdoor and Indeed. Current and former employees will leave reviews on these sites. Much like you pay attention to reviews from your customers on public sites, pay attention here as well. You can also catch social media and online mentions by setting up Google Alerts using keywords that would tip you off to on-line comments about employment at your company.
Employment brands are only good so long as you can deliver on them. Don’t try to do the “popular” thing if you can’t deliver on it. Don’t try to be Google if you’re not Google. Carve out your own niche, make sure you can deliver on it and test it periodically. Find employees who value your employment brand and fit with it. Take these intentional steps and you will find yourself attracting the right candidates who are delighted to work with you and will refer their friends and family to work with you.
Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo