A company’s marketing department puts a lot of focus and effort around the company’s brand, as well as how current and prospective clients perceive their business. However, there’s another brand companies should be paying close attention to – your employer brand. According to LinkedIn, 94 percent of companies plan to increase or at least maintain their investment and budget around their employer brand in 2013. Talent is the most important investment a company makes: without the right people, a business won’t run smoothly. So I challenge you — as a business owner, HR representative or even a marketing associate — take a hard look at your current employer brand, and then commit to improving it in 2013.
A great local example of an employer brand done right is ExactTarget’s Orange. If you’ve had the chance to speak to an ExactTarget employee, you know that they live and breathe Orange. They’re proud to be a part of a successful company that puts a heavy emphasis on their internal culture. A solid employer brand shows prospective candidates what your company is all about; it’s what you’re known for by job-seekers, passive candidates and your surrounding community. Not only can a well-crafted employer brand attract talent, it can also retain your current team. LinkedIn cites that companies with a strong employer brand had 28 percent lower turnover. ExactTarget provides an employer brand that their employees can be proud of and feel invested in.
Similar to your company’s brand, an employer brand isn’t something that’s ever really completed. It’s an entity that has to be maintained and improved as things within your company change. If your company starts out as an employer that encourages a results-oriented work environment, and then morphs into an employer that requires employees to be in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, your brand will change significantly, because your target audience has changed. The same people who prefer working at their own pace just aren’t the same people who prefer structure in a work schedule. Strive for authenticity.
While an employer brand is something that takes a lot of dedication and continuous commitment, there are three steps to getting started.
Step 1: Define an Employee Value Proposition
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This initial task is about figuring out which attributes or sentiments you want associated with your company. What are your company’s core values? What are the reasons that people would want to be a part of your team? But, it’s imperative that your efforts are always genuine; exaggerating, or even flat-out lying, about what your company can offer an employee only hurts your company’s reputation.
Bring together a group of employees representing a variety of departments to brainstorm and collaborate on what your employer brand really is. Once you have a good selection of ideas, start narrowing it down to the things that are most important to your culture. Then, create a direct and impactful value proposition that can be shared both internally and externally.
Step 2: Focus on your target audience
A great platform to share your employer brand, aside from your own company’s website, is LinkedIn. As a company, you hopefully already have a LinkedIn Company Page. [If not, I suggest focusing on that first.] A LinkedIn Company Page allows an employer to create a variety of templates that can be shared when members visit your company page. For instance, your message to executives could vary widely from your message to recent graduates.
LinkedIn also allows you to personalize your Careers tab for a specific audience. Certain groups may be more interested in the growth opportunities in your company, while others may be more interested in learning more about the laid back work environment you offer. A company should have an overall employer brand, but don’t be afraid to craft a variety of messages targeted for certain audiences. For help in setting up your LinkedIn presence, check out our free guide: Increasing Conversions with Social Media.
Step 3: Communicate — a lot.
Communication is the most important aspect of building your employer brand. What’s the point if the HR or marketing departments are the only ones who know about your employee value proposition? It’s also important to remember that communication has to happen both externally and internally. A great way to promote your employer brand externally to prospective candidates is align the content on your website with the message you’re trying to communicate. Share the awesome benefits you have, or the abundance of opportunities and employee development within the organization. Make sure that when a prospective candidate leaves your website or LinkedIn Careers page that they know what you’re all about. Your employer brand won’t be right for everyone, but it will draw in the right candidates.
Communicating your message internally is just as important. It goes back to ExactTarget’s Orange culture: you want to build brand advocates internally that will share their great experiences with colleagues and peers. If your staff isn’t sharing the positives of your company, you’d better believe they’re shouting their complaints.
You can also create a private group on LinkedIn to maintain communication internally with your employees. It’s an effective way to get away from an inbox mess of mass emails; it can also offer a platform that employees can check and contribute to when they want, and build a feeling of family and investment.
Make 2013 the year of your employer brand. Your competition may already be doing it; and they’ll be the ones landing the rockstar candidates. I would love to hear some of the ways you have seen employer brands done right. Please share your experiences in the comments below!