Job openings hit a record-high 6.2 million in June, while unemployment remains at record lows, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This scenario has left skilled professionals with an abundance of job opportunities, making it challenging for employers to retain and attract top talent.
In this landscape, having a strong employer brand is more important than ever. In addition to helping attract and retain talent, it also has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. Building a strong employee brand does not happen in a day or even a year. However, there are a few steps companies can take to get there.
Adopt an "employee-first" mentality. Talent is tough to come by, and customers will be too if you do not put employees first. A recent Allison+Partners’ study on consumer perceptions about employee engagement revealed 67% of consumers would be inspired to try or buy a product if an employee spoke positively about the brand, while 60% would actively avoid buying a product if the employee spoke negatively about the brand or company. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, and Kip Tindell, cofounder and chairman of The Container Store, have evangelized this notion for years. Their mantra is if you take care of your employees first, they will take care of your customers and everyone wins.
Establish a mission and values and be willing to put them to the test. By having a clear mission, you give employees a purpose, and job seekers understand what your organization wants to accomplish. Values establish the code of conduct you expect from all employees. Google had its values tested when a memo from an employee that questioned its diversity recruiting and policies circulated and went viral. However, because the company has a very clear set of values in place, it came to a quick conclusion on the employee’s code of conduct violation and stood by its actions.
Know thyself. When it comes to employer branding, ignorance is not bliss. Talk to your employees, conduct internal surveys, and listen to what HR and recruiters hear from employees or potential employees about the organization. Identify your employee evangelists, ask them what they love about the organization, and use their feedback to promote your organization as a best place to work.
Celebrate the wins. It’s important to communicate internally to employees all the great work you do as an organization. Don’t assume they know about it. By circulating media articles, awards, and videos of employees speaking at conferences and community events, you boost employee morale and help make employees feel part of something bigger.
Perks do not equal culture. From ball pits and snacks to unlimited vacation to flex-time, companies have developed many creative "perks" to attract talent. While perks are something every employee surely appreciates, perks do not define a company culture. In fact, a Gallup poll showed even when companies offered benefits such as flex-time and work-from-home opportunities, employees preferred workplace well-being to material benefits.
The best defense is a strong offense. The first line of defense is to always respond to any Glassdoor or Facebook review, whether positive, negative, or neutral. Doing this shows your organization is engaged and willing to have a transparent dialogue about how best to improve your employer brand. A Glassdoor survey showed 69% of consumers are likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, or shares updates on the culture and work environment).
At the core of an employer-brand are motivated employees who enjoy showing up and doing smart work every day. Companies that adopt an employee-first mentality have a better chance of attracting top talent, building employee loyalty, and, ultimately, inspiring consumers to engage with their brand.