As our global economy evolves, challenging leading companies with new competition every single day, business leaders have an acute need to find and retain top talent in order to be successful.

These days, people turn to social media, job boards and employer branding platforms to inform their job search. Companies should also be using those same resources to shine a spotlight on their brand and attract interest from qualified candidates.

Employees’ expectations of their employers have shifted following hiring freezes and high unemployment due to COVID-19, as well as the spotlight cast on brands’ social responsibility initiatives as a result of ongoing protests against systemic racism. It’s become increasingly important to show people how you take care of your employees, what your brand stands for and the ways your company puts your values into action.

So the question is: How can companies build trust in their brand among prospects and employees alike and authentically demonstrate what it means to work for your company? The simplest answer is strong employer branding.

Employer branding is a solution for brand visibility, affinity and growth, and working to improve it is one of the best ways to bring prospective candidates through your door and reduce turnover. Glassdoor found that 77% of job seekers consider a company’s culture before applying for a job and 69% would reject job offers from brands with poor employer branding.

If you want to attract the best employees to your workforce, then it’s important to start learning key employer branding strategies to leverage the power of a strong reputation.

What is employer branding?

Your employer brand comes down to how people perceive your company. It dictates your reputation not only among consumers but also with shareholders, employees and future job candidates. Employer brands are influenced by everything from internal communication strategies to company-specific solutions for employee recognition.

An effective employer branding strategy shows prospective employees that you have a brand they’ll want to work for. Focus on promoting the inspirational aspects of your corporate culture like your brand mission, values and initiatives and highlighting unique features that differentiate you from other employers in your industry.

Given the fact that 75% of candidates are more likely to apply for a position listed by a company that actively manages its employer brand, building a world-class employer branding program puts your company in the enviable position of having your pick from the talent pool.

As you get started, ask yourself and your team questions like:

  • Why should someone want to work for you?
  • Do your managers and employees share the same perception of your brand?
  • Are you appropriately visible to your talent pool?
  • How can you leverage employees and their personal networks in your employer branding strategy?

Building a powerful employment branding strategy can be difficult, but it boils down to answering one question: “What makes your company the best place to work?”

Here are the do’s and don’ts of refining your employer branding strategy.

Do: Use feedback from employees to develop your employee value proposition (EVP)

The majority of today’s job candidates will actively research what does or doesn’t make a company a great place to work. Who better to describe the joys and shortcomings of being on your team than your existing employees?

A confidential survey can be an excellent way to gather information about what your employees think about your current brand. Ask them what they might tell their friends about your company or what they consider the best aspects of working for your team. Use the feedback you get to develop an employee value proposition.

Your EVP outlines the monetary and non-monetary rewards you can offer to potential employees in exchange for their skills, such as compensation, unique benefits, work-life balance, office culture, initiatives around diversity and inclusion and more. This information should influence the messaging and content you develop to support your employer branding strategy and efforts to acquire top talent.

Remember, if the survey reveals problems with your corporate culture or internal communications, it’s important you listen to those areas of concern and address them. Share your action plans with employees and let them know that you’re willing to adapt to meet their needs. This is a great way to start setting the foundation for a team of loyal brand ambassadors and demonstrate that your company isn’t just talking the talk. According to a study from Gartner, organizations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by 69% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%.

Don’t: Neglect employer branding resources

In order to establish and strengthen your employer brand, you have to lay a strong foundation first. This starts by identifying the resources you’ll need to execute your employer branding plan and the platforms where you’ll promote your brand and EVP.

Social media is one of the most appealing and accessible solutions for increasing employer brand visibility, not to mention one of the easiest ways to give your employees and brand ambassadors a voice. At Sprout, for instance, we share hiring updates, company-wide initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion and #TeamSprout features across social platforms to show off the personalities, skills and culture that make our company unique and a great place to work.

Beyond the traditional social platforms, 53% of job seekers look for company information on job search websites, such as Glassdoor, which has more than 70 million reviews and insights for over 1 million companies. “Whether a job-seeker is actively or passively looking for a new opportunity, Glassdoor is the prime destination for getting the inside scoop into what it’s like to be an employee at your organization,” said Glassdoor’s Lead Product Marketing Manager Sophia Fox.

With a Glassdoor profile, your company can add more than just critical information and facts that savvy job seekers consider before applying for work at any company, such as how many employees you have, industry details, company accolades, benefits and perks. Plus, you can add photos of your office, employees, company events and more. You can also regularly share relevant company updates on your Glassdoor profile, much like a social profile feed, and provide specific information that candidates are looking for these days. For instance, many companies leveraged Glassdoor to share their response to COVID-19, and reviews that include mentions of the pandemic receive a COVID-19 tag so candidates can get a full picture of how both a company and its employees have handled the situation.

Even if the person or people managing your company’s Glassdoor don’t work on social, social media managers can be instrumental in helping to develop your strategy and authentic, transparent and engaging employer brand content.

It’s not enough to post an occasional company update or job listing. “Your Glassdoor profile will give future hires a feel for your voice, your values, and why you believe you’re an employer of choice. But the real magic happens when you layer in a well-balanced mix of diverse employee experiences through reviews, testimonials, and company updates,” said Lauren Polkow, Director of Product Management at Glassdoor. “This opens the window into what candidates are really wanting from you: an authentic feel into what it’s really like to join your company.”

The easiest way to do it? Get your employees involved.

Do: Give employees a voice in your brand

In today’s highly-social, interconnected world, it’s safe to say that word of mouth is a crucial business tool for employer branding. If your employees don’t love working for you, then people are going to know about it. But there are bound to be people that do love working for you and they can be powerful employee advocates.

In general, employee advocacy is the internal and external promotion of an organization by its staff members. Given that job candidates are three times more likely to trust a company’s employees than the company itself to provide accurate information, employee advocates can be critical in attracting top talent to your organization. Make it easy for employees to get involved by curating employer brand content for them to share across their social platforms.

Brands should have employees tell their own stories, as well. When people speak about their own experiences, motivations, values and more, current employees and potential candidates are more likely to feel a deeper connection to the company as a whole.

Bear in mind that candidates also turn to review sites for honest opinions that come directly from current and former employees. Over 65% of Glassdoor users read at least five reviews before forming an opinion of a company, so it’s critical to focus your attention there as well.

Do: Track employment branding results

Having good employer branding and being transparent about your company culture are more important today than ever before, but it’s hard to see the true value in your strategy without a solution for tracking results.

When tracking the metrics that indicate ROI for your employer branding strategy, you’ll need to look at metrics that are related to differentiation, awareness and perceived quality in your workplace. Think about using online review websites and surveys to help you discover the changes that your employer branding is contributing to.

Consider also setting up social listening topics around your employer branding to identify key insights and gauge the overall perception of your employer brand. Let’s say, people are on social asking, “Is Company X diverse and inclusive?,” wondering, “How has Company X ensured employee safety since COVID-19?” or sharing that they’ve “heard Company X doesn’t have good work-life balance.” Even if your brand isn’t tagged, a listening tool will pick up those mentions, which gives you an opportunity to respond, or simply gather those insights and bring them to human resources, hiring managers or whoever it concerns. Then, continue to track sentiment to see how perception changes as you continue to execute your employer brand strategy.

Make a note of the metrics that are most important for you before you begin implementing your strategy. This way, you’ll have a baseline to measure and benchmark improvements or pitfalls against, while still keeping company culture top of mind as a critical piece to the success of your employer branding program.

Don’t forget to also regularly monitor your review sites and engage with reviewers, even if a review is negative. This gives you a chance to address how you will correct issues and amplify the positives. Not only that, showing that you are actively looking for feedback and taking employee recommendations seriously can do great things for morale and your rating. According to Glassdoor, 80% of users agree that their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review. Additionally, they’re more likely to apply to an open job if the employer is active on Glassdoor.

“Your responses to reviews, both negative and positive, are another avenue to showcase that you are engaged, listening, and invested in sharing a transparent look into what it is and would be like to work with you,” said Fox. “The conversation that is shaping your employer brand perception is happening on Glassdoor with or without you, so you might as well join it.”

Don’t: Narrow your focus solely on attracting talent

Successful employer branding certainly attracts more qualified applicants. However, you shouldn’t just focus on pulling key talent into your company—you need to have an equal focus on retaining the essential talent already within the four walls of your business.

We know that retaining skill in any market can be complicated. Yet, a strong company culture and an attractive brand can help mitigate this flight risk. Data suggests that if company culture and employer brand are properly aligned with employee value, there’s less turnover.

Sometimes businesses don’t have resources to keep every employee on staff. Layoffs and other major changes that affect retention are an unfortunate reality in the business world. Unfortunately, layoffs can spook talented employees because the business appears less healthy, and otherwise secure employees may start looking for employment elsewhere. If your business finds itself in this position, it’s important to be as transparent as possible during these changes, make the employees that are still with you feel supported and remain open to feedback.

Your employer branding should be more than just a marketing strategy, it should be a way of life. Management and leadership teams must be fully devoted to the brand in order to follow through on commitments to their employees and adjust when growth areas are revealed. Marketers, especially those in social media, have little control over those factors. But what they do have are social data and insights that can push leadership to act, level up and embrace accountability.

Remember those reviews we talked about? Don’t let them go unnoticed. Relay that feedback to leadership to give them a sense of what internal changes would improve morale and the employee experience. Social listening can also come in handy here. Gather insights about your competitors’ employer brand, internal culture, values, perks and more. Then, bring your findings to your higher-ups to inform and improve their recruitment and retention efforts.

There is nothing stronger and more attractive to job-seekers and candidates than getting an authentic and balanced point of view on what it’s like to be a part of your organization.
Eric Pettit
Senior Director of Product Marketing at Glassdoor

The benefits of an employment branding strategy

Today, one of the most significant obstacles candidates face when considering a new position is not knowing what it’s like to work for a specific company. An employer branding strategy allows you to focus on convincing talent that your organization is the best next step in their careers. After all, if people believe that they won’t be able to find a better environment for their career, they’ll take much more pride and ownership over their role in the company.

With an employment branding strategy, you’ll start to recognize:

  • New generations of exceptional talent drawn to your company by your compelling employer branding. You won’t just attract good employees, you’ll attract the best.
  • Social media is a powerful professional networking tool and an essential part of employer branding strategy in today’s society.
  • The commonalities between talent acquisition and customer acquisition. Just as a strong consumer brand attracts the right customers, an employer brand can attract the right talent.
  • “Your employees’ voice is your employer brand,” said Eric Pettit, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Glassdoor. “There is nothing stronger and more attractive to job-seekers and candidates than getting an authentic and balanced point of view on what it’s like to be a part of your organization.”

Over time, your employer branding will naturally improve and evolve as you attract new employees and build loyalty among your existing team. If your aim is to improve candidate engagement and employee advocacy—while reducing turnover—employer branding is the key to success.