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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

What is employer branding? How to build a great employer brand

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Your organization’s employer brand should always be top of mind. It makes a major difference when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Let’s take a closer look at what employer branding is and what your company can do to organically build an employer brand that sets it up for success.

2022 Engagement and Retention Report

What is employer branding?

Employer branding is how you promote your organization to job seekers and current employees. Your company’s employer brand is then how these individuals perceive it. Employer branding requires your company to ensure its culture, values, and vision match its goals and aspirations, and then communicate its brand effectively.

Employer branding is one of the best ways to differentiate your organization and promote it as a great place to work. It includes all of the efforts your business makes to become recognized in the job market. By focusing on employer branding, you’ll position your organization as a desirable place to work and in turn attract and retain top talent.

Factors that impact employer brand

There are a number of internal and external factors that may affect your employer brand. The first one is your organizational culture. Culture is a set of beliefs and behaviors that guide how your employees and management team interact and work. Strong employer brands align with company culture, meaning they’re driven by the same goals and values.

Word of mouth and reviews can also influence employer brand. While positive remarks improve your company’s employer brand, negative ones diminish it. While a few negative reviews every now and then are expected, too many of them can make it difficult for others to see your organization in a positive light.

In addition, marketing, especially recruitment marketing or the tactics you use to promote yourself to job seekers, can make a big difference when it comes to employer brand. If your marketing efforts emphasize that you offer competitive pay, flexible work hours, and holiday bonuses, for example, you’ll strengthen your employer brand.

Customer experience is important as well. Prospective and current team members want to work for a company that meets or even exceeds customer expectations. If your customers have a poor perception of you, there’s a good chance employees and potential hires will as well.

How does employer branding impact your company?

Employer branding can benefit your organization in a variety of ways. First and foremost, it’s essential if you’d like to attract top talent. After all, people want to work for a company that values their employees and treats them well. It’s no surprise that 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a position if the employer actively manages its brand.

With thoughtful employer branding, you can reduce the time and cost it takes to hire employees as well. You’re more likely to have a pipeline of talented candidates that you can vet early on, even if you don’t have a vacant role. This will expedite the interview and hiring process because you’ll have qualified talent to choose from right when a position opens up. When you do make offers, a positive employer brand is another selling point for candidates.

Since employer branding also refers to how well you treat your employees and align their needs with your brand, it can also boost employee morale. If you offer great pay, promote from within, and cultivate a fun culture, for example, your top employees will want to remain with your organization. They’ll also be motivated to be more productive and go the extra mile for your customers.

How to build an exceptional employer brand

It’s impossible to control every aspect of your organization’s employer brand, but that doesn’t mean your company can’t influence it for the better. Here are some tips to help build an employer brand that appeals to employees.

1. Establish a culture of belonging

A culture of belonging is one where employees feel comfortable and secure. To create a culture of belonging, prioritize it at each stage of the employee lifecycle. This means ensuring that new employees feel welcomed from the first day of onboarding, with plenty of support from team members and ways to get involved with the company. It also requires managers to demonstrate that they know and value employees on an individual basis through active listening and constructively addressing any issues raised. Organizations should complete the picture with strong diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, establishing an environment of psychological safety, and fostering genuine connections between team members.

2. Practice employee recognition

Few things drag down an employer brand like a workforce that feels unappreciated and disengaged. That’s where employee recognition comes in. Employee recognition is the act of acknowledging and rewarding your employees for their contributions and achievements. When done right, it’s the top driver of employee engagement. And nothing makes employees feel valued more than direct recognition from a manager.

For an employee recognition program to be effective, it must incorporate both social recognition and monetary rewards. Social recognition can come in many forms, including verbal shout outs, thank you notes via email or chat, and messages sent using your organization’s employee recognition platform. Enabling frequent social recognition tied to behaviors that align with organizational culture and goals has significant business benefits.

Monetary recognition is just as important as social recognition. One of the most popular and effective ways to implement it is through a points-based reward system. Employees receive a set number of points that they can then award to colleagues whenever they wish. These points can be redeemed for rewards like gift cards, company merchandise, cash bonuses, and more.

3. Boost engagement by giving employees a voice

When you give employees a voice, they can express their ideas and concerns without worrying about judgment or consequences. Employee voice allows team members to be actively involved in business decisions while empowering them to continuously put in their best work. To give your employees a voice, it’s important to embrace active listening. This is where a listener truly absorbs, responds, and retains what someone is saying. Be sure to reward employees for taking the time to be honest and open up. This can encourage them to continue to share their thoughts and feelings.

Of course, not all employees are comfortable providing honest input face-to-face, so organizations need to provide alternate, always-on channels for employee feedback. Tools like pulse surveys can give your employees the opportunity to share their feedback on a more regular basis. Once your company has the necessary feedback in hand, use an employee engagement platform to analyze it and guide your managers from insight to action before the input loses relevancy or employees become frustrated with a lack of progress.

4. Build an irresistible employee value proposition (EVP)

Your organization’s employee value proposition (EVP) is the promise you make to your employees in return for their commitment. It includes all of the benefits and rewards your employees can receive when they work for your organization. In today’s competitive marketplace, a compelling EVP is essential. It can bring top talent and help retain your most qualified employees. Your EVP should include a number of components, including financial rewards, employment benefits, career development, a great work environment, and a strong company culture:

  • Financial rewards cover things like salary, bonuses, and stock options. Of course, the best organizations go beyond traditional rewards with a comprehensive employee recognition program.
  • Employment benefits are additional incentives such as health insurance, a 401(k) plan, paid time off, company sponsored events, and wellness perks like a free gym membership.
  • Career development includes leadership training, sponsored courses, mentorship, travel opportunities, and promotions.
  • Work environment refers to any factors that help employees feel good while they’re working for you. These may be flexible working hours, team building activities, a focus on work-life-balance, and recognition. Your goal should be to create an engaging environment where employees are set up for success.
  • Your organizational culture also affects your EVP. A great culture your organization works to maintain can be the reason an employee chooses or stays with your company over a competitor.

5. Focus on the candidate and onboarding experiences

Employee onboarding is one of the most important parts of the employee lifecycle. It should provide employees with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to succeed in their day-to-day jobs. Put simply, it helps integrate employees into your company.

While the first few weeks or months of an employee’s time with you will likely be the most intense onboarding phase, you should continue the onboarding process for at least a year. Through ongoing check-ins and training programs, you can maintain a connection with your employees and keep them engaged. And don’t forget that onboarding is for employees other than new hires. Develop onboarding programs for employees who are transitioning from part-time to full-time, returning from a leave of absence, or rejoining the company after a stint elsewhere.

It’s wise to pair your employees with a mentor, which can be a manager or a colleague that’s been at your company for a while. A mentor may support and encourage them while giving them the confidence they need to grow professionally within your company. Continuing this coaching approach to management throughout employees’ tenure at your organization will help them reach their full potential.

Clearly defining each employee’s role is also essential. A poorly written job description or lack of communication regarding expectations and responsibilities is likely to result in confusion and frustration. Make sure your employees know exactly why they were hired and what they need to do to succeed so that everyone is on the same page.

6. Support professional development

Professional development involves the education and training that employees need to succeed in their careers. When companies invest in their employees, team members feel valued and are more likely to invest themselves in the business.

Supporting professional development starts with managers taking the time to understand each employee’s professional aspirations. Then implement initiatives to help them reach those goals, like covering the cost of further education or implementing internal training initiatives. Organizations should also develop clear, achievable career paths for employees at every level while recognizing those who achieve their learning goals. Finally, consider enabling a continuous learning approach that’s easy to personalize for each team member using modern tools like learning management systems.

Prioritize employer branding today

Recognition, engagement, and culture are essential aspects of employer branding. And with the Achievers Employee Experience Platform, you can target all three. It features Achievers Recognize, which focuses on enabling science-backed, high frequency and high impact recognition. Achievers Recognize gives your organization everything it needs to build customized, effective employee recognition programs.

And to craft a culture your employees want to see and candidates want to be a part of, turn to Achievers Listen, an end-to-end employee engagement platform that promotes feedback and gives employees a voice. It lets your organization keep tabs on employee sentiment in real time and empowers managers to quickly analyze and act on the key issues employees raise.

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Profile image of author: Aleksandra Masionis

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