Experts Talk: Employer Brand

In this month’s edition of ‘Experts talk’, we speak to Caburn Hope’s long-standing brand expert Caroline Russell. She demystifies why HR leaders need to build a robust employer brand, what impact it has in business and the upcoming trends in the industry.

What is an employer brand?

Caroline: It’s all about your employer identity, the unique selling points and brand personality. Often applied in terms of talent attraction, retention and management, it’s relevant to both employees and prospective employees. It may not be exactly the same as the external brand (in the marketing sense) but it most certainly needs to be aligned to it!

Why is it so important?

Caroline: Employer brand is hugely important to for a number of reasons. It shapes the way employees understand and live the organisation’s purpose and values, and employees are critical to business success. Besides it being the bedrock of your talent strategy, it’s instrumental for aligning HR objectives to corporate targets and vision throughout the employee lifecycle.

Recruitment and on-boarding are pivotal programmes for embedding your employer brand. It ensures there is no gap between employee expectations and the reality of working for a company.

In a world where the job market is increasingly competitive, it’s not a ‘nice-to-have’ but an absolute necessity for a sustainable business model. From shaping future leaders to increasing employee engagement and performance, employer brand sits right at the heart. It’s the glue that keeps everything together.

What are the differences between an employer brand and a brand?

Caroline: Employer brand is all about people - be it employees or prospective employees - while brand in the marketing landscape is centred on building customer loyalty. Employer brand might seem like fluffy ideals but employees do get blinded by brand due to overexposure. So, it’s important to differentiate your employer brand and make it stand out from the crowd.

What commercial benefits does it reap for the wider company?

Caroline: It helps employees understand business objectives and connects what they’re doing with the overall corporate objectives. Most of all, an employer brand done well attracts and retains the best talent to meet and exceed performance and productivity.

Who should ideally be involved in the creation of an employer brand?

Caroline: HR – they understand how the overall objectives filter down to their people.
Creative partner – ideally someone with extensive experience in HR communication and marketing that isn’t blinded by your brand and internal projects.
Internal communications – your campaigns should piggy-back on messaging and maintain consistency. Don’t overwhelm your people with a barrage of messages!

What sort of key trends do you see emerging in the landscape?

Caroline: Video is hugely popular. It’s easy to communicate tricky topics that could otherwise be deemed ‘dry’. If you’re targeting a multi-regional, multi-market audience, animation can also make light work of communicating difficult subject matter.

Social media is brilliant for building a brand personality, especially in terms of talent. Used in the right way, it’s a great tactic to showcase opportunities, career paths and ‘the inside story’ on a day-in-the-life of a typical employee.

Ambient media is a critical component in creating an environment that people want to work in. It’s all about matching the real-world experience with employee expectations. Your working environment absolutely needs to live up to your employer brand promise!

Are there any companies getting it right with their employer brand?

Caroline: I have to say Spotify do a great job in bringing to life its employer brand. It represents their company culture, their values, and their overall talent brand seamlessly throughout the employee journey. It feels genuine and exciting, and really captures the individuality of the Spotify brand and their people.

How do you measure its success?

Caroline: Hard to quantify in a sentence as it really is variable according to your objectives and needs. Depending on what your focus is, I would consider all facets of employee retention and engagement metrics, as well as, your turnover rate. If a revolving door policy is occurring more often than not, then something isn’t right.

What are your top three tips for creating an inspirational employer brand?

1. Pinpoint your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) and what you stand for as an employer – this is the foundation of your brand character and personality
2. Be consistent with your messaging, look and feel – you’ll need to brand police everything that goes out and ask yourself ‘is this aligned with what we stand for?’
3. Your employer brand must be genuine – people will know if your brand personality is untrue. It’s not a good way to build employee engagement.

For more information on how an employer brand can help exceed performance targets click here.