Top Reasons Why You Should Build a Great Employer Brand

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By Robert Dybeck

Satisfied customers have been the goal, or business standard, for decades in many industries. Has that changed?

We´re now facing a quicker and more rapidly influenced market and that makes satisfied customers ‘worthless’.

Why? Because a satisfied customer is passive, or do not press “like”.

It takes “more than satisfied” to be a promoter or active spokesperson in your surrounding networks.

It’s hard to reach that highest level of customer experience without really passionate employees.

To be a ‘good’ employer and offer a ‘safe employment’ is not enough.

You need to add passion and a higher purpose to help employees reach  engagement levels that generate extraordinary performance that can benefit your customers.

A good example of this is the ‘reviews’ feature which adds transparency to businesses.

If you’re hotel is not top-rated at TripAdvisor or you as an Uber-driver do not have a five star rating – you get fewer visitors and rides, respectively.

This focus on the generation of promoters as an important success factor also explains why top performing organizations also have employer branding on their highest priority list in the leading rooms.

To be able to leave your competitors behind you need to attract, entertain and develop the best of employees.

You have to be relentless focusing on your corporate culture and staff to become an industry star.

One of the best management advices I’ve read is from the tale – Alice in the Wonderland (by Lewis Carroll). 

When Alice meets the cat and gets the question:

“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

An employer of today has to be something, don´t just deliver something.

When you have a direction, in terms of a higher purpose or a “Why”, things starts to happen and you will see great effects in engagement and customer experience.

I say that the managing director must be completely crazy, that leaves your middle management to be half crazy and your employees a quarter crazy.

That’s more or less a definition of having a corporate culture or an employer brand.

If the management is average and shows a lack of passion or determination there will be nothing left at the employee level in a bigger organization.

One actual example is Tesla with a leader that seriously puts effort into getting people to march to the other end of the line.

The organization actually creates some extraordinary pioneering cars.

And that in a branch that hasn’t developed much since the T-Ford.

3 focuses for a strong Employer brand: 

I divide a successful employer brand into three important parts, it has to be:

Attractive, Unique and True.

Attractive for the target audience or persona in terms of what you can offer them, rather than a listing of your needs.

Times when recruiting was a challenge of choosing between workers that all wanted to work for you are long gone.

Today it is the candidates’ market and especially when it comes to top talent.

A good start is to ask yourself, or the existing employees, why they choose you?

Or ask them what they want from a dream employer.

There are loads of studies measuring employee preferences and strong culture, good leadership and credibility.

Unique offer or EVP (employee value proposition) is important.

You can think about the question – why should I work for your organization?

Top talent today can choose any employer they like.

It´s harder when you don´t have – a product such as that of Spotify, market share as that of Google or a reputation of ‘All Blacks’.

The answer is found in the company’s soul, your vision or the internal culture that is so ‘You’.

A competitor can copy everything from price to business models, but they can never copy your culture or attitude towards what you do.

Find a way to catch and describe what makes you unique to attract new stars that will fit your tribe.

True is the last, but in a longer perspective most important, piece of the puzzle.

A talent of today will Google, Wiki, Glasdoor or someway look you up before contacting you and even more before signing a contract.

The transparency is total today and if you try to put “lipstick on a dead body” you will have a backfire sooner or later.

Employer branding is built around a strong culture and a promise that you can live up to.

Do not say anything, in your external communication, about how it is to work for you that you wouldn’t get an agreement of from your own team.

The dream is the ability to, in the right amount and time, find high performing colleagues that fits in the gang – that’s all.

The solution to build an Employer Brand in three steps: 

First decide your “Persona” or target audience? Where do you reach out to them, in which channels are they hanging out?

Then you have to start sharing with them a true and honest picture of your organisation, the culture and how it is to work here.

They do not want to see a corrected picture with the perfect mix of age, gender and nationality all with smiling faces on your web with the tag line “we love to work here…” (if that’s not the case) They want to see and meet a glimpse of the inside and a transparent picture of how it is to work for you. As a graduate recently told me: “I do not want to talk to the HR/Rec manager, I like to talk to last year’s graduates…”

Secondly, try to create a dialogue with your fan base, get to know them and share content around who you are, what’s happening in your industry and your plans for the future.

Many career pages are built up like if you´re “asking for a marriage on the first date”.

A heritage from earlier logic when the purpose was to keep the candidates away from you and make it hard to get in contact.

You still often find: “Work for us? Send in your CV and tell us all about you by filling in this 20-step form”.

This matches badly with the fact that up to 80 percent of today’s employees are “passive” which means they are not actively searching for a job.

That leaves you missing out a majority of them because the first step in the interaction is too big.

A company with a strong culture or higher purpose creates interest, curiosity and gathers followers or hang-arounds, but it’s a big difference between being curious and to send in an application.

The third step is to handle and manage the attraction or interest that your reputation, word of mouth from proud employees and content-based employer branding generates.

The goal is to create an interest and then lead that interest towards your recruitment process, a buzz word for this way of working is Inbound recruiting.

You want everyone to like and follow your company and the employees to really feel chosen, to have passed the needle eye and got the opportunity to work for you.

My experience says that you have to support the hiring managers with this important work.

They are often only interested in candidates when they are actively hiring.

You, therefore, need to have a good process, system and roles to manage this important part of your brand.

Marketing and sales have relatively recently started cooperating more around the customer journey.

The next department to start attending the same meetings, in my opinion, is HR and Market to support the tactics of your employer brand.

Measure ‘Employer’ brand

You also need to find good ways to measure your employer brand and please do not focus on career page visitors or clicks from banners or ads.

Focus on how your candidate/fanbase develops and how to design your candidate funnels.

Witch part of your recruitment process is your week link? How can you A and B test your content towards your targeted audience?

Start follow your time to hire for different roles. To do the business case of a strong employer brand is often quite easy.

A few examples of KPI´s to calculate are:

  • How much money do you spend on recruitment agencies vs how many of your hiring’s come from your own candidate base?
  • How long does an open position stay ‘open’, with loss of productivity?
  • The transparency and expectations on you as an employer from today’s top talents drive towards the only long-term solution, to be a good employer for real.

If you “WOW” your employees from hire to retire they will “wow” your customers and be part of a successful company.

The old saying that the employees are our most important resource is more relevant than ever.

After all, happy employees generate happy customers and a happy company…

(The author is an Employer branding expert, Co-founder of the Swedish company Wildfire and now Country manager in New Zealand for the Swedish HR-tech company Teamtailor.com.) 

(He can be reached at: robert@teamtailor.com)

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