Employer brand, often neglected and undervalued

The importance of employer brand

Employer Branding allows companies to attract and retain talent that believe in the company’s vision and delivers on the company’s strategy. This is critical in order to attract and retain customers.

Traditionally, branding was seen as a blurred function somehow linked to marketing. It covered things like logos and type-fonts, and that was pretty much it. In the last few years branding has raised its importance to a much more strategic position, driving the company’s values, personality, customer promise, etc…

Still, many companies look at branding as a purely external exercise without realizing that if the values that they promote to customers, the promises that they make, and the brand that they create externally are not lived and believed in internally, they are doomed to failure. If your employees don’t understand, or don’t even know, what your brand stands for, how can they then deliver your promise to your customers?

That’s Why internal branding is as important as external branding…. if not more.

Also, the way that employees interact with their employer is changing. Before, we used to live to work but now we are looking for more. We want to be happy at work, to find satisfaction in what we do, to grow. Employees are more likely to change job if unhappy or unsatisfied, with critical turn-over costs for companies.

So, through effective employer branding, a company can attract and retain the right talent, which will ensure that the company is in the best position to deliver its promise to customers.

Critical steps to achieve this include:

1) Having a solid Brand strategy

The very first thing that a company that is serious about employer branding should do is to take a sober look at itself. If the company already has a brand strategy in place, this is a good time to check internally if it resonates with its employees, if they know what it is, understand it, and believe in it. If there is no brand strategy in place, then it’s definitely time to work on one.

Importantly, reviewing or defining a brand strategy is not something that can be done by a department in isolation. All levels of the organization need to be involved.

Of course someone must take the lead, the branding team for instance, but it needs full support from the C-suite, it needs to involve management and it needs to get feedback from the rest of the employees (e.g What do they think the company is about? Are the values as expressed in the brand strategy the real values of the company? Or do they not match? Is the company behaving the way and delivering on what its brand promise says?)

2) Undertaking Internal research

Once you have your brand strategy in place, you need to find out

i) What workforce the company needs to succeed

Who are they and what matters to them (i.e. what they are looking for when they apply for a job with the company, what the company offers in return for their talent)

ii) Gauge employees’ feelings towards the company’s brand:

  • Feelings about their journey with the company
  • Do they feel like an active part of the company’s results?
  • Do they understand what their role is in making the company successful?
  • Is the company recognizing their efforts in a way that resonates with them?

3) Developing an EVP (Employee Value Proposition)

At this point you will be in a good place to create an EVP, that formal document that clearly articulates expectations and rewards, complementing and enhancing the company’s values in order to align the company and the employees’ goals and expectations.

However, creating documents like the EVP and thinking that that alone will do the job is not enough. The EVP is just as good as its implementation. Only by fully embracing the EVP, you, your managers, your employees, and ultimately your company can succeed. The EVP and its key elements must impact on the whole employee journey, from recruiting advertising, to induction, training, quarterly and yearly reviews, all the way through to the alumni phase.

Finally, once everything is in place it is critical to implement two-way internal communications. Only by keeping the channels open for employees to provide feedback you can assess if things are progressing as expected. Creating two-way communication tools, organizing opportunities for employees to speak up and, especially, showing that you are actively listening to their feedback is critical to keeping your employees on board and engaged.

 

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