A Rapid-Fire Guide to Building an Employment Brand that Works

by: Vanessa Wylie

An employment brand can make (or break) your business.  Why?  Because every action related to building your workforce is, in one way or another, tied to your employment brand.  But let’s back up.  What’s an employment brand?

Your employment brand = your reputation as an employer + your employee value proposition*

What do people love about working for your company?  Why do they stick around?  What differentiates your employment experience from that of every other company competing with you for talent?  These are important questions to answer because they can help you understand how to attract and retain key people that will help you build your business.  To get the answers, you’ll need to do some soul-searching.

Step 1: Get the data

Collect information from whatever sources you have – interview notes, feedback from new employee checkpoints, exit interviews, surveys – whatever you’ve got.  (And as a side note – if you don’t have the data, it goes without saying that you should start finding mechanisms to collect it).

Step 2: Find the themes

What commonalities can you pull out from your data sources?  Do employees consistently praise your open door atmosphere?  Cutting-edge technology? Free coffee?  Flexible work hours?  Cafeteria options?  Don’t discount the small things either – these can also be important points that can help you understand what you’re doing well that you should keep doing or build on.  And some of these things may surprise you, and may be low-hanging fruit that have a low-cost/high-impact effect on your employment brand.

Step 3: Build your employment brand

Once you understand what it is that people like about working for your company, you can tie those elements in to your corporate philosophy and values.  Then ensure that those involved in helping to attract and retain talent and developing programs and initiatives for your workforce have also bought-in to these principles.  They need to understand and articulate your company’s differentiated value, since they’ll become your employment brand’s initial ambassadors.  And if you’ve done it well, your employees will then in turn become your evangelists.

The key to building an employment brand that works is being credible – if you’ve missed the mark and touted benefits that you don’t offer, or an experience that doesn’t jive with reality, candidates and employees will very quickly see through it.  Having a brand that’s ineffective or lacks integrity can be worse than having no discernible brand at all, since you can risk alienating prospective and current employees and losing their trust.

And just as it’s important to look at what you’re doing well, you need to get comfortable with your deficiencies too – take a warts-and-all view of your business, and understand what employees are saying about the stuff that isn’t working, since addressing the negatives can help you get more mileage out of your brand and build an engaged, productive workforce.

*For a fulsome discussion on what an effective Employee Value Proposition can do for your business, see Dean Fulford’s post on the Stratford Blog here.  You can also download a Stratford Guide on How to Design a Successful EVP Process.

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