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The Importance of Employer Branding

Workforce Therapy Files

Release Date: 02/28/2024

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Workforce Therapy Files

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File 12:  In today’s file, the team dives into the importance of employer branding.  How does this fit in to a podcast that’s generally about recruiting, staffing and HR?  Simple.  If you want to attract quality employees, company leaders need to understand how their organization is viewed by the general public.  Is it a brand people want to associate with or are there negative connotations about the organization and its work environment?  If it’s the latter, there’s a direct connection between employer branding and its ability to effectively manage its...

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File 12:  In today’s file, the team dives into the importance of employer branding.  How does this fit in to a podcast that’s generally about recruiting, staffing and HR?  Simple.  If you want to attract quality employees, company leaders need to understand how their organization is viewed by the general public.  Is it a brand people want to associate with or are there negative connotations about the organization and its work environment?  If it’s the latter, there’s a direct connection between employer branding and its ability to effectively manage its workforce.

Understanding the Term “Employer Branding”

Jason owns CrowdSouth, a marketing agency that works with large organizations.  He begins by explaining that branding is not about your logo, your color scheme or a font.  Branding is how an audience feels about you.  An employer brand refers to how people feel about you as an employer, rather than simply the product or service you provide.

WHY Should a Company Focus on This?

People are often confused with why they need to focus on their employee brand.  Jason states that you may need to revive it.  If there’s really no sentiment (+/-) about your employer brand, you may need to inject some energy into it.  In other situations, you may need to take steps to adjust it or completely correct the current perception in the marketplace. 

Jamie discusses a time when she accepted a job to work with an employer she knew as a consumer, but not yet as an employee.  She relocated to the new city and went to get her new cell phone.  When she told the person across the counter that she’d just accepted a job with the local employer, the person’s reaction was, let’s just say, less than inspiring.  The employer’s brand was not viewed positively in this small town. 

Molley comments that in years past, it was all about the reputation of the company, not necessarily the employee-experience.  At that time, society was much more committed to staying with an employer for a longer period.  The current paradigm has completely shifted.  The opinion of an organization’s employees matters.   How that company chooses to treat its employees is an important factor in whether it keeps and attracts other employees.

Jason describes a previous situation his company was involved with several years ago.  A large employer acquired a local plant.  They wanted to let the local community know that changes were being made to make the plant a more inviting place to work. 

Jason’s team worked to secure employee testimonials to help alter the perception of the local plan, in terms of what it was like to work there.  As a way of indicating if the efforts were working, they monitored Google Reviews about the facility.  The star-rating increased and it resulted in being easier to recruit new employees.    

Keeping the Feedback and Opinions Authentic

People are naturally skeptical of attempts to change long-held opinions or perceptions.  Jason suggests a few ways to approach the effort.

Employee surveys and public sentiment surveys can provide useful feedback.  Customer survey results can provide additional insights.  Taking steps to secure testimonials from employees who were there before the changes and chose to stick with the company now that the changes have been implemented tend to be good stories to leverage.

You have to be able to admit there’s a problem, if you actually want to change it.

Your Organization’s Net Promotor Score

Jamie mentions that her company, Parcel, and Molley’s company, Incipio, both use a survey tool from OrgVitals.  She likes that the surveys ask employees for a net promoter score.  This key metric is simply a measure of whether the individual is willing to recommend the organization to someone else.  It’s usually on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale. 

Molley describes how her team researches companies that have approached Incipio.  Her team Google’s the company’s name to see if they’ve been in the news (+/-).  What is their Glassdoor Rating?  What are people saying about the organization on Indeed?  Who do they know on LinkedIn who might have insights about the company?

The point is that it’s not uncommon for the leadership team to have a different perspective than what’s actually being said on the street.  Often the feedback Incipio gathers is the basis for a couple of discussion points:

·      Are your views and perspectives aligned with the opinion on the street?

·      Is this something you what to resolve?

Social Listening Campaigns

Jason discusses how his company is working with a global company, at its large facility in the region.  CrowdSouth is doing a social listening campaign for them.  They’re pulling data from a collection of online platforms that have reviews about the company.  Then, they present monthly reports detailing what’s being said about the company.  Jason’s team synthesizes the information and they review it with the organization.

The candid feedback will enable the company to understand their employer brand (as it currently exists) before fully engaging with Jason’s team.  You have to accept your current reality before you can decide whether it’s what you actually want that “reality” to be.  Get the data first.  Then, go build a strategy to move the perception in the desired direction.  The result will be a much more successful effort, verses relying on your assumptions.

WHEN Should You Do This?

Jason advises clients to have a continual feedback loop enabling the company to actively monitor “the conversation.”  It also provides the opportunity for you to highlight positive stories through social media, as well as local and regional media.  If you’re not doing this, start now.

It’s possible for an organization to weave its own narrative.  There’s no reason to simply accept how people perceive your employer brand.  Take an active role in curating or influencing that brand perception.

Actively Own Your Glassdoor Page

Jamie observes that as a business, you can own your Glassdoor page.  You’ll have access to respond to comments about your company.  But what’s the best way to address less than optimal or even negative comments on your page? 

Jason says the proper response depends on the scenario.  If the company is involved in a lawsuit, they may need to post a link advising viewers to follow it for updates on the situation.  Maybe it is a challenging situation.  Have your answers ready, but don’t let them sound canned.  This allows you to respond and shows you took action to address it.

Molley has a slightly different take.  She agrees that responses need to be posted.  The adds that you should thank the person for the comment and recognize them for having spoken up about the issue.  She goes a step further by encouraging management to provide phone numbers that particular individual(s) can use to speak directly to them about it.  It not only gives the individual an outlet, but it also shows everyone else that your actively engaged in resolving the issue.

Candidates have a tremendous amount of power at their fingertips.  As an employer, you need to be savvy about your employer branding.  Employees want that in today’s environment. 

Anticipating a Major Hiring Push?

This is a perfect time to begin adjusting your employer brand.  Don’t wait until the initiative is underway, that might be too late and in some cases, it may take time for the efforts to take effect. 

HOW Can an Employer Take Steps to Adjust Its Employer Brand?

This may be the biggest question.  Jamie comments that this may be a surprise to the HR professionals.  Yes, they have a hand in this marketing role.  It’s a good idea to designate someone to basically own employer brand.  Make it part of the job description.  This may be someone in marketing, as opposed to HR.  Either way, establish it as a key responsibility.

Molley advocates to designating someone internally, rather than an external resource.  Consider a short-term employee referral program to begin positively impacting the story.  As that begins to take hold, then move externally with your big hiring push.  Remember, your employee base can and should be brand champions.  Check out File 8 for additional information on that thought.

As an organization, make sure your vision and values align directly with how you are treating your employees.  For instance, if you’re organization is family focused (“family first”) oriented, you need to live it.  Make sure it’s part of performance reviews, publicize it, provide opportunities for your employees to take advantage of work-life initiatives.  Make sure you’re walking the walk and talking the talk, before you turn your focus outward.

Have a Consistent Narrative

A company must be mindful of the conversation that’s happening, on a daily basis, about its employer brand.  While some of these conversations are verbal, many are online.  There are so many platforms that it might seem overwhelming.  However, the key idea is to contribute to these conversations across a variety of online platforms.  Craft and deliver a consistent narrative to help influence the tone and/or topics of the various conversations.  Don’t do it surreptitiously.  Be authentic in how the company is communicating. 

Jason reminds us that a brand is a living and breathing thing.  It can be guided more than it can be controlled. 

From an HR compliance perspective, Jamie explains that this is also consider a protected activity.  If an individual comments on the company’s social channel(s) or their own, about pay, benefits or working conditions, and even one employee “likes” it, the comment is now considered protected speech.

So, not only should a company contribute (i.e. nudge the conversation), this is also why implementing a listening campaign is important.  If the company is aware of issues, it can take steps to actively correct and resolve them, before they take-on a life of their own, online.

Another option Jason recommends is to run an ad campaign, especially if there’s an issue in an existing region.  Story-telling is a great method for nudging the employer brand.  Show some community compassion or something the company is doing for its employees.  It’s an effective way to get people focused on positive stories about your brand.

WHO Is Responsible?

Employer branding works best when it’s a combination of your talent team, marketing and senior leadership.  Understand that senior leadership is responsible for thought leadership throughout the organization.  What they talk about, what they value, how they express it and what they encourage drives company culture and values.  The talent and marketing teams can play a role in keeping leadership’s narrative where it needs to be, relative to the employer brand. 

That’s where we’ll leave the conversation for today.  Before we close the file, we invite you to reach out to us with questions, suggestions or other comments.  We’d love to hear from you.

Need Help Supporting Your Company’s Recruiting and Staffing Goals?

We’re here to help.  You can contact us via our individual websites, depending on your specific needs or questions:

·      Jamie Swaim, SPHR – www.ParcelKnows.com

·      Molley Ricketts – www.IncipioWorks.com

·      Jason Heflin – www.CrowdSouth.com

 

We hope you found this file insightful and helpful.  Thank you for listening!