Previously on the Arete Coach Podcast, we examined what has been called “The Great Resignation” and the difficulty executives and CEOs nationwide are having in finding and keeping employees. In response to these challenges, many have suggested that employers focus on their “employer branding.” However, according to CareerArc’s employer branding study, of the 96% of companies that believe employer brand can impact revenue, only 44% of them monitor their employer brand’s impact on their revenue (David 2017).
As executive coaches, it is vital that we stay abreast of the latest business challenges and responses leaders have towards these challenges—such as employer branding. By learning more about the importance, impact, and strategies of employer branding, we can lead our clients to research-based strategies that can help them face the great resignation with resilience.
This article was originally published on Arete Coach and has been approved for placement by Arete Coach on ePraxis. Scroll to continue reading or click here to read the original article.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” - Jeff Bezos
Defining the employer brand
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, employer branding is “what the organization communicates as its identity to both potential and current employees.” At its core, employer branding communicates what it’s like to be an employee of an organization. Employer branding includes an organization's “mission, values, culture, and personality.” When organizations have a positive employer brand, they communicate that the organization is a good employer and a great place to work. Employer branding can be summarized as the reputation an organization has as an employer. This reputation is built on a multitude of factors. Shani Jay of the Academy to Innovate HR, explains that employer branding includes the “policies, programs, rewards, and benefits” offered to prospective and existing employees. Employer branding communicates to prospective employees, current employees, and the general marketplace the investment that an organization has in their employees’ wellbeing. Ultimately, employer branding “affects recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market” (SHRM, n.d.).
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” - Warren Buffett
Benefits of employer branding
Every corporation has employer branding whether it is intentional or not. Word-of-mouth reviews and posts from current and former employees on websites such as Glassdoor are one of the many ways potential employees, current employees, and customers can view an organization’s employer branding from the inside. The affect that websites like Glassdoor can have on employee sourcing is massive. Consider this insight from ePraxis, when sourcing employees for organizations with a “poor reputation” on websites like Glassdoor, the budget for sourcing employees triples in size (Sorensen, 2019). To combat this, employers can intentionally invest in positive employer branding in a variety of ways to avoid the negative consequences of a poor reputation. Some of the ways organizations can improve their employer branding are by communicating the care they have for their employees, the benefits they provide, the values of the organization, and the culture of their workplace. Investing in intentional and positive employer branding can have several benefits to the workplace and organization.
“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” - Aristotle
Increased job satisfaction and retention rates
In August of 2021, the Asia Pacific Journal of Business Administration published a study titled “Unbundling employer branding, job satisfaction, organizational identification, and employee retention: a sequential mediation analysis.” In this study, Shubhangi Bharadwaj, Nawab Ali Khan, and Mohammad Yameen found several benefits that employer branding can have on employees. These benefits include higher retention rates, increased job satisfaction, and increased organizational identification (Bharadwaj et al., 2021). By investing in long-term employer branding strategies, companies increase their employees’ job satisfaction which ultimately reduces turnover and increases retention rates. This can help employers withstand the effects of the great resignation, increase the well-being of their current employees, and increase the retention rate of their current employees.
Increased attraction of new employees
Employer branding can also help organizations attract new employees. According to research by Software Advice, Glassdoor, a popular employer reviewing website, is used by almost 50% of individuals during their job search (Westfall, 2017). The majority of those using Glassdoor use it as a way to find “top employers” before sending in their applications to other employers. Because of this, if an organization’s employer branding on Glassdoor is sub-par or poor, they might avoid submitting a job application altogether. One-third of job applicants will not apply to a company if they received below a three-star rating on Glassdoor (Westfall, 2017).
Research also supports the importance of employer branding when attracting new employees. Research published in the 2021 Sage Journal Social Marketing Quarterly, states that when organizations engage in corporate social marketing, or campaigns that display values to “public health, safety, the environment, or community wellbeing” (Lee, 2016) to improve employer branding, there was an increase in “employer awareness,” “employer attractiveness,” and employer differentiation from “competing organizations” (Saini et al., 2021). Their study also found that “students prefer employers who provide them opportunities to work for society and are even willing to accept a lower pay in such organizations.” Furthermore, they conclude that when investing in employer branding it is important for employers to showcase their values through corporate social marketing (Saini et al., 2021).
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” - Simon Sinek
Increased customer satisfaction
Research suggests that when organizations have positive employer branding, their customers are happier. According to Vanamburg of ACSI Matters, every “one-star improvement in an organization's Glassdoor rating correlated to a 1.3-point (out of 100) increase in customer satisfaction scores” (Vanamburg, 2021). Ultimately, when employers have positive employer branding, employees and customers are happier.
Other research has found that “64% of customers have stopped purchasing a brand after hearing news of that company’s poor employee treatment.” Furthermore, it was also discovered that “millennial employees were 30% more likely than Gen-Xers and 60% more likely than Baby Boomers to stop purchasing or promoting an employer’s products due to poor employee experience” (David, 2017). Statistically, today’s millennial generation cares more about employee treatment than prior generations. Research from the Journal of Corporate Finance also suggests that having positive workplace cultures, a common result of employer branding is correlated with an increase in company performance or profit (Huang, 2015). By communicating organizational values and employee experience via employer branding, business leaders can prevent losing pre-existing brand loyalty due to unintentional and negative employer branding.
Increased employee productivity
In a 2017 article from the Journal of Transnational Management, research revealed that “organizations with an advanced employer branding strategy have greater productivity than those organizations who lack or have partially developed strategy” (Aldousari et al., 2017). By having a clearly defined and developed employer branding strategy, employers fostered greater productivity in their companies. Increasing employee productivity is a valuable way to increase corporate output without additional input of products or labor according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to Northern Ireland Business Info, “businesses that operate efficiently are more likely to grow, enter new markets or maximize their profits.” By investing in employer branding employers can increase their employees’ efficiency, ultimately increasing their organization's profitability.
“Effective questioning brings insights, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom.” - Chip R. Bell
Strategies for employer branding
There are several strategies to consider when looking to improve an organization’s employer branding. Consider the following insights and recommendations for developing a positive employer branding strategy.
In order to establish a positive employer brand, the values and ethics of a business must be considered first. These values outline the message that employers want to get across to potential employees and customers. These values and ethics are also called EVP: Employer Value Propositions. Your EVP “is what differentiates you from your competitors, and what ultimately attracts talent to your company” (Smarp, 2021). According to Leftronic, only 61% of companies have a “well-developed EVP” and only 44% of CEOs are aware that EVPs are even used in their company’s strategic policy (M., 2020). What are your company’s mission statement, ethics, and moral values? Do your customers and potential employees know this? Does your CEO, or do you, know your EVP?
Analyze your current employer branding
Whether intentional or not, each company has its own employer branding. To improve your branding strategy, a baseline of current branding should be assessed for areas of improvement and areas of excellence. Doing this involves examining your current employer branding outlets.
Consider Glassdoor, an employer review website used by almost half of all job seekers (Westfall, 2017). Employees can also leave reviews of their employment experiences on websites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Vault, CareerBliss, Kununu, JobAdvisor, RateMyEmployer, TheJobCrowd, FairygodBoss, Ivy Exec, Comparably, and Yelp (FairygodBoss, n.d.). Each of these websites is a source of employer branding for potential job candidates. It is important to review your company's standing on these websites and examine if the reviews, comments, and rankings comply with your corporation’s values.
What does your business need?
“To get the most out of your employer branding initiatives,” it is important to know what your company needs (Smarp, 2021). Does your company need more HR or management employees? What challenges are your recruiters and hiring managers facing that can be assisted by employer branding? Identifying your business’ needs can include “identifying target groups” or those groups of individuals that you need to hire (Peyron, 2013). Once your needs have been identified, research those needs. If your business needs more engineers, research the best ways to get in contact with this group, “what is important to them when it comes to their careers,” their social media habits, and where they “search for jobs” (Smarp, 2021).
Choose your channels
Where will you invest your employer branding strategy? Using the information found when researching your target audience and the needs of your business, business leaders can choose the most appropriate channels for their employer branding strategies. For example, if a business needs graphic design employees, and research shows that those in graphic design primarily use Instagram for their social media, it would be more valuable to place ads on Instagram versus Facebook.
Additionally, you can choose to focus on specific websites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc. based on your company's needs and the results of research about your target audiences. Does your target audience or demographic use Glassdoor more commonly than LinkedIn? If so, you can focus your employer branding strategy on Glassdoor versus LinkedIn.
Once you choose the channels of employer branding you want to invest in, consider what steps need to be taken for each of these platforms. Some online websites have “employer profiles.” Denver Freeman of Vanderhouwen Staffing recommends that employers should add photos, company details, state a company’s mission, show what it looks like to work there, showcase benefits packages, and share development opportunities (2018). He also recommends encouraging current employees to share their experiences, “testimonials,” and “stories that highlight” your workplace culture values and standards (Freeman, 2018). Doing so can make your employer's brand stand out to potential employees and customers alike. Furthermore, using these channels as a source of information about the state of your workplace culture via employee reviews can be a great source of insight regarding areas of improvement.
Create, execute, analyze, and revise
Create a strategic response to your employer branding needs and goals. Planning what yearly, monthly, and even weekly activities need to be do done to improve employer branding can help an organization and all those involved work collectively towards their long-term goals (Peyron, 2013). After creating and executing a strategic plan for employer branding, it is important to analyze the success of your efforts. Companies can analyze the success of their employer branding strategy by examining relative KPIs such as the number of new job applications, attrition rates, and employee/customer survey results. By analyzing the success of your employer branding strategy and modifying it as needed, companies can improve their workplaces and get “the highest possible ROIs” from their employer branding (Smarp, 2021).
Powerful questions for the executive
As discussed above, employer branding has several key benefits that are particularly poignant in today’s turbulent marketplace. When discussing the challenges brought by the great resignation and increased difficulty in finding new employees, executive coaches can use the research articles and information discussed above as valuable insight and discussion starters. Furthermore, questions can also be pulled from the discussed benefits of employee branding. Consider the following questions below:
How do your employees view their employers, managers, and organization as a whole? How do you know this?
How do your customers view your employment practices? How might this impact your organization?
What is your employer brand? How are you communicating it to potential employees, current employees, and customers?
If you had to define your employer brand in one word, what would it be?
How does your organization act on its values when it comes to employee management?
What are your own values? Does your employer brand reflect this?
The main takeaway
Employer branding is an effective way to increase job satisfaction, increase retention rates, attract new employees, increase customer satisfaction, and increase employee productivity. By knowing the research and data behind employer branding and strategies for improving employer branding, executive coaches can better communicate the importance of employer branding to their clients who are currently facing the challenges of the great resignation. This research and data can help executives brainstorm and discuss solutions to their hiring and retention challenges. By understanding the effects of employer branding and how to implement employer branding strategies, executive coaches can best lead their clients through the great resignation and towards healthier more profitable businesses.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” - Jeff Bezos
For further information, check out, “Does Your Glassdoor Need Cleaning” with helpful suggestions on how to legally raise your Glassdoor score.
Aldousari, A. A., Robertson, A., Yajid, M. S. A., & Ahmed, Z. U. (2017). Impact of employer branding on organization’s performance. Journal of Transnational Management, 22(3), 153–170. https://doi.org/10.1080/15475778.2017.1335125.
Bharadwaj, S., Khan, N. A., & Yameen, M. (2021). Unbundling employer branding, job satisfaction, organizational identification and employee retention: a sequential mediation analysis. Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, of. https://doi.org/10.1108/apjba-08-2020-0279.
David, T. (2017, November 13). 29 Surprising Stats on Employer Branding – Infographic. CareerArc. https://www.careerarc.com/blog/employer-branding-study-infographic/.
FairygodBoss. (n.d.). 11 Sites Where You Can Find Employee Reviews (Besides Fairygodboss). https://fairygodboss.com/career-topics/employer-review-sites-employee-reviews#.
Freeman, D. (2018, April 12). How to Optimize Your Employer Glassdoor Page. VanderHouwen. https://www.vanderhouwen.com/optimize-employer-glassdoor-page/.
Huang, M., Li, P., Meschke, F., & Guthrie, J. P. (2015). Family firms, employee satisfaction, and corporate performance. Journal of Corporate Finance, 34, 108–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcorpfin.2015.08.002.
Jay, S. (n.d.). How to Build a Successful Employer Branding Strategy for Your Organization. AIHR. https://www.aihr.com/blog/employer-branding-strategy/.
Lee, N. R. (2016). Corporate Social Marketing. Social Marketing Quarterly, 22(4), 340–344. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524500416672550.
Marko, M. (2020, July 30). 15 Intriguing Employer Branding Statistics. 15 Intriguing Employer Branding Statistics. https://leftronic.com/blog/employer-branding-statistics/.
Northern Ireland Business Info. (n.d.). Increase efficiency to maximise your profit | nibusinessinfo.co.uk. https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/increase-efficiency-maximise-your-profit.
Peyron, C. (2013, February 6). 9 Steps to a Successful Employer Branding Strategy. ERE Recruiting Intelligence. https://www.ere.net/9-steps-to-a-successful-employer-branding-strategy/.
Saini, A., Saini, G. K., & Kumar, S. (2021). Role of Corporate Social Marketing Campaigns in Employer Branding: A Study of Campus Engagement Initiatives. Social Marketing Quarterly, 27(4), 324–346. https://doi.org/10.1177/15245004211053858.
SHRM. (n.d.). What is an employer brand, and how can we develop an employment branding strategy? https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/cms_023007.aspx.
Smarp. (2021, January 12). Employer Branding: 9 Steps to Build a Successful Strategy. https://blog.smarp.com/employer-branding-9-steps-to-build-successful-strategy.
Sorensen, S. (2019, February 10). Does Your Glassdoor Need Cleaning? 7 Suggestions for Managing and Improving your Company Reputation. ePraxis. https://www.epraxis.com/post/does-your-glassdoor-need-cleaning-7-suggestions-for-managing-and-improving-your-company-reputation.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Why is Productivity Important? https://www.bls.gov/k12/productivity-101/content/why-is-productivity-important/home.htm.
Vanamburg, D. (2021, June 2). If your employees aren’t happy, how can you expect your customers to be? ACSI Matters. https://www.acsimatters.com/2021/06/02/if-your-employees-arent-happy-how-can-you-expect-your-customers-to-be/.
Westfall, B. (2017, April 14). How Job Seekers Use Glassdoor Reviews. Top Business Software Resources for Buyers - 2021 | Software Advice. https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/job-seekers-use-glassdoor-reviews/.
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