Why your company’s reputation matters: Employer Branding 101

by Matt Warnock
Employer Branding

Throughout history, there is one marketing tactic that has been more effective than all the others. It’s called word-of-mouth (WOM) and it’s been working wonders ever since people started communicating.

Word-of-mouth marketing is simple. Someone you trust tells you that something is worth your time or money. Today, social media has amplified word-of-mouth so that you have access to thousands of reviews and people’s opinions on just about anything, including what it’s like to work for your company. 

Your reputation as an employer is now the most important factor in attracting and retaining the best talent possible. As such, smart companies are focusing their resources on developing a positive and appealing reputation, which is also called an employer brand.

Your employer brand is how people perceive what it’s like to work at your company.

As you know, the talent pool is getting smaller and competition for employers is fierce. In Glassdoor’s recent HR & Recruiting*¹ survey, hiring managers reveal their biggest challenge is to attract top talent.  

From the employee’s perspective, 84% say*² that a company’s reputation as an employer is critical in their decision making. Word-of-mouth marketing, which directly influences your company’s reputation, has become a key factor for candidates when choosing which companies to work for.

Your employer brand (reputation) requires a fine-tuned and well-executed employee strategy. Wondering where to begin? This Employer Branding 101 article contains incredibly useful information, tips and strategies to help you.

What is Employer Branding?

When a potential candidate is thinking about applying for a position at your company, they will research you. They’ll check out LinkedIn, Glassdoor and a handful of other sites where current and past employees have shared their experiences.

Your employer brand is your reputation. And if you are not controlling your brand story, then the reviews will dictate your brand for you. 

3 Main Benefits of Employer Branding

Attract and retain the best talent: 90% of candidates*³ say they would apply for a job from an employer
with a positive brand. Once you’ve hired them, the programs you put in place will help retain employees.  

Spend less money: Research from LinkedIn shows a company with a stronger employer brand on average
sees a 43 decrease in the cost per candidate they hire. When people are saying good things about you,
candidates will find you.

Keep employees happy: A positive employer brand means that working conditions are great and people
are happy. Happy employees are productive and will spread the word that they love their job.

Employer branding is taking a proactive step to define what you stand for and what value you offer your employees beyond a paycheck. And then, most importantly, following through on your brand promise by implementing programs that reinforce your brand. 

Your company already does this with your customer-facing brand, but the branding of your product or service does not translate to your employer brand. It’s a separate initiative that must be well thought out and implemented well. 

Let’s take a closer look at the steps to help you get there.

5 Steps to Building Your Employer Brand

Your employer brand is not something you make up in a brainstorming session. It already exists. Your employees already have a strong idea of what it’s like to work for your company. At the same time, you have a set of values and a vision of what type of employer you want to be. Your employer brand is a marriage of the two.

Here are the 5 steps to help you get there.

Step 1: Define the value you offer that makes you unique 

In the same way that consumer branding is about differentiating yourself from your competition, your employer brand should highlight what makes you special and how it benefits your employees.

One technique to help you is to define your EVP (employee value proposition).  Your EVP is a statement of what you believe as an employer and what value employees can expect.

In order to ensure it’s authentic, survey your entire workforce to get a better sense of their reality and then bring in a small group of employees to help you finalize the EVP. 

When writing your EVP, make it inspirational and unique, but keep it grounded in what your target employees want and need. Describe the employee experience and how your company values permeate everything you do.

EVP Examples to Inspire You

Apple “This is where some of the world’s smartest, most passionate people create the world’s most
innovative products and experiences. Join us and you’ll do the best work of your life — and make a
difference in other people’s lives.”

Adidas “Pioneering the future of work: Imagination, teamwork, and the courage to share your ideas
all need the right environment to thrive. Which is why we’re focused on being at the epicenter of global
culture and pioneering a future workplace that facilitates faster decision-making, creative solutions,
and more opportunities for spontaneous collaboration.”

Shopify “We’re Shopify. Our mission is to make commerce better for everyone – but we’re not the
workplace for everyone. We thrive on change, operate on trust, and leverage the diverse perspectives
of people on our team in everything we do. We solve problems at a rapid pace. In short, we get shit done.”

You can see from these EVP examples that they are employee-focused, which means they state what’s in it for them. Be specific and be different, but at the end of the day, make your brand something that will appeal to your target candidates and current employees.

Step 2: Implement employee programs to support your promise

Once you’ve defined your employer brand and created messaging that explains your value proposition, your focus should turn to implementing programs that will reinforce the promise you are making to future and current employees.

You’ll want to align the actual employee experience with what you are promising. This means putting into effect the right employee programs that match your brand.

For example, if your employer brand is focused on your employees’ well-being, you’ll want to look into fitness or relaxation programs that promote health. If your employer brand is all about creativity, perhaps you offer art classes or museum memberships.

Whatever your value proposition, you need to make sure the current employees are experiencing the same thing which you plan to promote to new people. Remember, your current employees are the ones writing the reviews and posting comments on social media that affect your brand. 

Employee Program Ideas

1. Focus on Family: Deloitte*⁴ offers admirable perks focused on parents and parents-to-be.
Moms and dads get up to 16 weeks of paid time off to bond with their new babies.

2. Flexible Fitness: Every employee approaches their fitness differently. Some love yoga, while
others prefer CrossFit. Apps like Urban Sports Club allow employees to choose from dozens of fitness
options in a variety of cities. 

3. Creative Days: Companies like MailerLite*⁵ believe all their employees are creative, so they give
each person four extra days per year to do something that inspires them and share it with the team. 

When you offer something unique and promote your brand internally first, you’ll build a strong foundation for your employer brand. In addition, you’ll initiate positive word-of-mouth from your current workforce.

Step 3: Create content and use social media to tell your story

You have a great story to tell about how awesome it is to work at your company. Make sure that story is consistent across the web, starting on your website and then LinkedIn and any other social media platforms you may use.

One popular approach is to use employee testimonials to help reinforce your brand. Consider creating videos, posting photos and writing articles that focus on your employees and their experiences. If they are authentic, they will be powerful.

Use social channels like Instagram and Facebook to post examples of your internal work culture, employee highlights, and events. Photos and videos make a big impact providing prospects with a better sense of the culture.

A large percentage of job seekers*⁶ use social media as their primary tool for job searching and research, so take the time to tell your story well via these channels.

In addition to sharing content and telling your employer brand story, be prepared to participate in conversations on these sites. If you respond as your company, make sure you use the voice and personality of your employer brand.

Another approach is to let an employee, like a Community Manager, respond as themselves. This helps your employer brand come across as more human as people’s comments and questions are addressed in a thoughtful and personalized way.  

Step 4: Gain insights from employee reviews 

Remember, you can define your employer brand and create content to help spread your message, but the word-of-mouth from your current and past employees will always be more powerful. 

Job sites that allow reviews have become the main platform for people to review your company. Everything from salaries and benefits to culture and management are discussed on these sites.

There are two ways you can proactively use reviews to improve your employer brand.

  1. Instead of getting mad or defensive about negative reviews, use them as a form of feedback to help you improve your company. Look for common themes or trends that will give you insight into problems or shortcomings that you can fix.
  2. Respond to all the negative reviews. Whether you like it or not, the negative reviewer had a bad experience and it’s best to acknowledge them and find out the root of their problem. You’ll also come across as an emotionally intelligent company if you can handle criticism and show initiative. 

When you see a negative review, don’t shy away from responding with your value proposition and proof points that back it up. Glassdoor provides helpful tips*⁷ on how to respond to reviews and opinions that don’t align with your employer brand.

7 Employee Sites You Should Monitor 

Comparably: Provides very detailed info of company culture and compensation
gathered from employee reviews.

Glassdoor: The most popular site with 38 million+ employer reviews and more than 50 million
monthly site visitors. 

Indeed: One of the largest job boards, attracting more than 200 million monthly site visitors.

Kununu: Employee review site, often referred to as the German Glassdoor. 

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has started collecting employee feedback on company profile pages. 

Xing: A popular professional social media site that’s popular in Germany. It pulls in Kununu
reviews and displays them front and center on company pages.

Facebook Page Reviews: Your Facebook company page has become a place where employees
post comments or complaints. 

Step 5: Keep evolving to stay ahead of your employees’ needs

The way people work is constantly changing. Companies must adapt to keep up with the trends that attract employees. As such, your employer brand should be flexible so that you can evolve to meet modern needs. 

Whether it’s new benefit programs, remote work options or organizational changes, it’s important to know what your employees care about.

How do you stay ahead of your employees’ needs? Ask them!

Employee satisfaction surveys*⁸ can give you the insights and feedback you need to improve your work environment and employer brand. Let your employees know that the survey is anonymous and that their feedback will lead to real change.

Afterward, share your insights with your employees so they can all understand where the company is heading.

An Employer Brand That’s Doing it Right

It’s always useful to see how others are approaching their employer brands to give you an idea of what yours can look like. That said, let’s take a look at HelloFresh, the Berlin-based meal-kit company. 

HelloFresh is the largest meal-kit provider in Germany and the United States, and also has offices in Canada, Western Europe, New Zealand and Australia. With a global workforce, they need an employer brand that unites their employees. 

They start with a career page that has all the right elements:

1.  A statement of their values

Statement of values

2. A description of their company culture

Company culture description

3. A credibility statement

credibility statement

4.  Employee testimonials

employee testimonials

These four sections from the HelloFresh career page create the perfect template for you to work from. They clearly define who they are as a company, what it’s like to work for them, and then they support these statements with their awards and testimonials from happy employees.

In addition to promoting their employer brand with great messaging, HelloFresh reinforces their values by offering unique employee programs that support their brand.

For example, in Europe, HelloFresh provides employees with Urban Sports Club memberships, allowing them to tailor their sports and wellness activities to their individual needs, schedules and locations.

It’s all part of their healthy brand approach and belief that every employee is a work in progress, both professionally and personally.

It’s Your Turn to Share Your Employer Brand

There’s more to building an employer brand than can be written in one article, but these fundamentals will put you on the right track.

Your employer brand is not something you create behind closed doors. Get your management involved and put together a team of employees from different departments to help lead the initiative.

When your team is invested, you’ll find it much easier to implement the changes you’ll need to make your employer brand a success. And that’s something worth talking about. 


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References:

*¹ https://research-content.glassdoor.com/app/uploads/sites/2/2019/11/Job_Hiring_Trends_2020-FINAL-1-1.pdf
*² https://www.talentnow.com/recruitment-statistics-2018-trends-insights-hiring-talented-candidates/
*³ https://resources.workable.com/stories-and-insights/2016-social-recruitment-trends-forecast
*⁴ https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/careers/articles/life-at-deloitte-benefits-and-rewards.html
*⁵ https://www.mailerlite.com/about
*⁶ https://www.themuse.com/advice/job-seekers-social-media-is-even-more-important-than-you-thought
*⁷ https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/responding-to-glassdoor-reviews/
*⁸ https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/questions-for-employee-satisfaction-surveys

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