What is employer branding?

Photo of two people smiling while looking at a computer screen

Employer branding refers to how your company is perceived as a place to work by current, past and potential employees. An employer brand doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It’s the result of intentional decisions by a company’s leadership, talent acquisition team and people team (and sometimes marketing and PR have a hand in there, too). And while your employer brand might include some aspirational elements, it should be rooted in the existing company culture.

Why is employer branding important?

There are several reasons for prioritizing employer branding. For your current employees, it creates a shared sense of purpose and motivation. In today’s work environment, teams are likely to be distributed and we can’t necessarily rely on in-person interactions, so values-alignment is critical for building belonging and engagement. For your prospective or future employees, having a clear employer brand will help you attract people who are aligned with your company culture. And there’s a benefit for former employees, too. If they continue to have a positive perception of your employer brand, they’re much more likely to refer people to your open jobs, engage with you as a freelancer or consultant or even rejoin your company as a boomerang employee. According to LinkedIn research, companies with a strong employer brand:

  • Attract 50% more qualified applicants
  • Hire 1–2x faster
  • Experience a 28% reduction in turnover

How to create an employer branding strategy

When is the right time to think about your employer brand? The short answer: Always! The longer answer: In response to whatever is happening in the market and your company because your approach may change. During times of higher growth, you’ll probably be more focused on moving quickly and making tactical decisions. In a slower growth period, you can spend more time on your hiring and people strategies and internal processes.

Here are a few of the major steps involved in creating your employer branding strategy:

  • Identify areas of focus like company mission, vision and values or diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Through internal research like surveys, focus groups and conversations with company leadership, define what your focus areas mean at your company. What does it look like when employees put these values into practice?
  • Consider how you will weave these values or concepts into various aspects of your candidate and employee experience. For example, the application and interview process and new hire onboarding are ideal times to reinforce your employer brand. But don’t forget about your existing employees – they also need reminders about your employer brand and plenty of recognition when they’re living out your values.

For a step-by-step guide and inspiring case studies of real companies that are creating and sharing their employer brands, grab a copy of Employer branding best practice.

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