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Dec 12, 2014

The “Employer Brand” is, to put it simply, an organization’s reputation as an employer.

This brand is what people (employees, applicants, candidates, and the public) associate with the organization whether that be good, bad, or indifferent.

It encompasses culture, history, traditions and all the various touch-points of the employment experience. It includes employee onboarding practices and the office environment. It contains collaborative work efforts, employee benefit package, workplace flexibility practices, and the external reputation of organizational leaders.

For better or for worse, your brand includes it all.

Lots of work, but all get to the same place

Over the years, HR professionals have increasingly realized the importance of branding the employment experience, subsequently crafting thousands of employee value proposition statements and working diligently to learn from their marketing professional peers down the hall.

Countless HR and recruiting leaders have placed a finely tuned and wordsmithed mission statement front and center on their company career page. They’ve put forth Herculean efforts to increase visibility to a wide swath of candidates in an attempt to gather as many people as possible into their recruitment funnels.

And, in the quest to create something shiny, unique and new, every organization has ended up sounding exactly the same.

Don’t believe me? Go to the career page of two or three or 10 different companies. Aside from logos and colors, are you able to tell them apart? Is Company A’s content that much different than Company B’s or are they somewhat indistinguishable?

Does this sound familiar?

I venture to guess you’re seeing the same well-worn phrases on each career page:

Employees are our most valuable resource. We offer a collaborative work environment where everyone’s input matters. We work hard but then we play hard.”

Does ANY of this have meaning when everyone appears to mean the same thing?

The power of YOUR brand

Your organization is unique. Even if you produce the same widgets as a competitor down the street, there is something palpably different in the manner in which you create, market, sell, and promote your product. There is something that differentiates your widget from every other widget in the marketplace and you strive to communicate that with customers.

The same is true of your employer brand. While you need to start by asking the question, “Is our employer brand aligned with our consumer/market brand?” you also need to dive deeper. Ask yourself, “Is our employer brand real, truthful, and authentic?” Ask yourself, “What makes our employment experience different?”

The properties and performance of the widget rolling off your production line cannot be falsified. Nor can your employer brand be manufactured or forced.

Your brand is your company’s “secret sauce”

Your brand is the secret sauce that allows you to source, recruit, and hire the right people for your organization.

It’s the special elixir that assists you in ensuring your employees are fully aligned with the culture and the goals of the organization. It’s the magic bean that you plant at the beginning of the employment journey (onboarding) and watch as it grows and bears fruit throughout the entire employment experience.

And it’s necessary for everyone in the organization — with HR as cheerleader and brand champion by the way — to articulate and share the brand. The real brand.

Involve your employees

Who understands your brand better than the employees already working for you?

They’re the ones who are creating and sustaining the culture of the organization, so it’s beneficial to encourage them to share the why, what, and how of their jobs. Allow them to curate their experiences and tell their stories. Allow them to meet and talk with candidates, job applicants, and new hires.

You can also leverage technology to enable your staff members to contribute their own content in a human and organic manner.

Train employees to use various social technologies and channels and then set them free. Imagine the power when the most passionate consumers of your employment experience — yes, your employees! — are empowered to share Instagram pictures, tweets and Facebook posts that show the world #LifeAtYourCompany?

Your authentic culture is your brand message.

You can’t manufacture a culture

So don’t make the mistake of sharing or attempting to brand that which is merely aspirational; it will only lead to mismatched hires and disaffected employees. While your company may manufacture widgets, you cannot manufacture a culture, nor can you manufacture a brand.

Keeping the brand real can make you.

This post was originally published on HR Cloud’s Blog