Much of Employer Branding begins at home.
Employer branding is very much about values, ethics, and transparency and how these are communicated, shared, and taken up by a company’s employees and potential hires.
Naturally, there is a critical need for these qualities to be felt and perceived outside the walls of a company. This can be accomplished in several ways, chief among which are the following:
- Contextually – wherein the values are woven into the content published by the company;
- Directly – wherein the company actively and purposefully explains itself to the public;
- Experientially – wherein the employer brand emanates from the employees themselves in a natural and unforced manner.
Creating this tapestry is a subtle process and one that requires careful attention to detail. While consumer brands grow in the esteem and emotional response of their followers by the a perceived proximity to their feelings and senses, the employer brand cannot depend on perception alone – the brand must walk the walk more than it talks the talk.
In other words, a car brand (like Alfa Romeo) must correspond to the dreams of its buyers and, as such, will be forgiven its minor flaws and problems, the automobile company (e.g., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), must continuously prove itself to be worthy of the loyalty of its employees.
In employer branding, forgiveness is hard to come by.
The reasons for this can be found in the very definition of employer branding. According to Barrow and Mosely, employer branding “describes an organization’s reputation as an employer, and its value proposition to its employees, as opposed to its more general corporate brand reputation and value proposition to customers.”
Good employer branding, therefore, can be defined as a company that structures a clearly defined and motivating reward system and that sets reasonable internal rules and abides by them.
The coveted response is “This is a great company to work for!” This response makes for better conditions inside the workplace and entices people to want to work for you, attracting talent. The path to arrive at this is neither as steep nor as easy as it might sound. Most of it comes down to making promises and fulfilling them.
According to HR Solutions, Inc., a Chicago-based management consulting firm that specializes in employee engagement surveys, an employee’s main concerns surround the issue of transparency and fairness. Are the salary scales clear and understandable? Does management communicate well? Is there obvious favoritism? Is HR responsive? Last on this list: Is it a clean place to work?
These basic issues make the difference between what is perceived as a good employer brand and a bad one. It is not the company that promises the most, but the one that makes good on everything they promise.
In this way, it seems very clear that you cannot just fake good employer branding by putting out a lot of spin – by being true to your own rules, you are half-way to achieving a good employer brand.
After that, it becomes a question of word-of-mouth. This kind of communication can be dramatically bolstered by attention to social media, by inclusion of employees in external communication (where feasible), and by thought pieces or blogs that reflect the company’s fundamental integrity and fairness.
Potential new hires must be allowed to infer the brand’s values. Telling them directly will probably arouse more suspicion than allay fears.
Getting the word out that this is a great company to work for is, therefore, solidly in your hands. A branding agency can assist you in finding the balance in communications and engineering the transparency you need and in what areas, but once established, you need to be as good as your word.
In other words: talk the talk AND walk the walk.
 Barrow, S. and Mosley, R. The Employer Brand, Bringing the Best of Brand Management to People at Work, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.