By Ankita Sancheti, Vice President – Brand & Digital

These days, candidates want to know more than just role expectations and general business information when seeking employment. They’re looking for an organizational culture based on transparency, challenges to the status quo, compassion, and empathy. And companies speaking to those demands are winning their unfair share of talent.

Let’s talk about something every company has, but not all do right: employer branding. It’s the sum of a company’s experiences and a long-term strategy that helps convey the values and characteristics that define an organization’s culture. It’s the chance to influence your company culture and curate an exceptional experience for candidates and employees, helping you meet the bottom line and keep talent for the long term.

An effective employer brand strategy can be why an ideal candidate chooses your company over competitors and employees choose to stay. Here are some best practices that’ll give you greater control over messaging and the ability to influence how individuals see your brand:

1. Conduct a holistic assessment of the existing brand
It’s important to first understand how people internally and externally view your company. That way you’ll know what adjustments need to be made.

A thorough audit tells you if your current messaging and reputation is having the desired effect. This is especially important for global organizations – it’s easy for values to be misinterpreted or need refinement to connect with local audiences.

To conduct a successful assessment:

    • Check out employee review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor – candidates often conduct research at great lengths before accepting a role. Questions to ask yourself are: What are people saying about your company and culture? Do you come across as an employer of choice? Are there negative reviews, and if so, have you addressed them?
    • Invest in social listening tools. These will help track mentions of your organization to gain insight on how people view your brand.
    • Conduct internal surveys, external audits, and research candidate preferences to identify problems that affect your ability to attract and keep talent. Then, and this is key: fix any issues through a unified employer brand strategy.

A brand audit isn’t a one-and-done exercise: 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the company actively manages its employer brand. Regularly conduct an audit to best understand what employees and candidates are saying about your organization and make changes if needed.

2. Create an employee value proposition (EVP)
An EVP is the foundation of your employer brand. It’s a promise to employees: a set of associations and offerings provided by the company in return for a candidate’s skills, capabilities and experience.

A solid EVP is clear, compelling, credible, and aligned to your core brand and business strategy. It tells employees what’s unique and most valuable about working for the company, highlighting competitive strengths.

Depending on the market and function you’re hiring for, talent expects a tailored message and a consumer-grade recruitment experience. Be sure to develop and clearly articulate EVPs that are true, attractive, distinctive and inspirational. Don’t just stop at development – infuse EVP’s ideals into every touchpoint of the candidate and employee journey. Do that and then you’re on the right path to talent attraction and retention.

3. Utilize a variety of digital channels
Technology is only as valuable as the human experience it improves. Weaving your employer brand through every digital touchpoint is key – but so is authentic storytelling and messaging that resonates with your audience.

From digital campaigns to social media strategy to digital storytelling toolkits, the candidate experience can be digitized in many ways. These tools can enhance a company’s capabilities to define, find, and engage the bright talent it needs.

Make sure outreach efforts meet candidates where they are. People across the world communicate differently, so use an omni-channel approach with messaging that’s validated by behaviors and culture based on target audience location.

4. Create a strong diversity and inclusion initiative
If you want strong branding, show your commitment to building diverse teams. There are many benefits to investing in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including more innovative ideas, a stronger workplace culture, higher levels of trust, and more engaged employees.

Developing an equitable culture is a challenging but rewarding process that takes time and dedication. But for many organizations, it could mean the difference between attracting and growing an innovative team or struggling as their industry changes.

5. Cultivate a detailed onboarding process
The onboarding process is when a candidate officially becomes an employee – and when your brand really needs to shine. Will they feel the employer brand is authentic? Will they have the same touchpoints that guided them through the recruitment process to keep them excited and engaged?

A thorough onboarding plan ensures new employees receive everything they need to succeed. It also serves as a welcoming tool introducing them to not only their job, but to the company and culture. Consider adding a new employee group to your intranet or another social media channel to allow newcomers connect, get information and ask questions. This can help boost the sense of community and aid in retention.

6. Involve key stakeholders from the beginning
To amplify the employer brand internally, bring vital stakeholders along and strengthen the partnerships that matter. These allies can support you in generating buzz and momentum around the employer brand, bringing it together across the business. Here’s a glimpse at how these partners can help:

    • HR or talent acquisition – Lead the project from kick-off through implementation. Main point of contact for all internal and external stakeholders.
    • Corporate brand – Provide feedback and recommendations to ensure the deliverables align with corporate brand guidelines.
    • Corporate communications – Provide feedback and recommendations to ensure the EVP material aligns with corporate tone of voice.
    • DEI leader – Provide feedback and recommendations to ensure the EVP material supports the corporate message and strategic focus around DEI initiatives.
    • Talent management – Brings the internal perspective to ensure the global EVP supports the communications with all talent groups.
    • Executive sponsor – Helps socialize the project at the executive level and provide feedback.

7. Assess the strategy’s success
Your employer branding strategy is in place. Now what? It’s time to regularly assess, finetune, and adapt it as your organization and industry evolves.

No company uses the same metrics to measure an employer brand’s success. But here are some common metrics that can help you further optimize and track your goals over time:

    • Candidate quality
    • Time-to-hire
    • Cost-per-hire
    • Offer acceptance rate
    • Employee experience
    • Number of applicants to each vacancy
    • Brand awareness

If any of your goals are falling short: reassess, correct the course, and tweak the approach until you see desired results.

Employer branding is a smart business investment. A strong brand can reduce the cost-per-hire by as much as 50%, while a negative reputation can cost a company as much as 10% more per hire. An inclusive, digitally-powered employer brand is vital to ensuring your business has the talent it needs to stay at the forefront of innovation. And remember this: Growth and success often follow companies that are perceived as great places to work.

Ankita Sancheti

Connect with Ankita on LinkedIn.