5 Facts About Employer Branding that Every Company Should Know

Steve Flook, President & CEO, iHire

By: Steve Flook, President & CEO, iHire


Whether you realize it or not, you have an employer brand. And no, I’m not talking about your corporate identity, a sleek logo or your Twitter feed’s color scheme. I’m referring to the perception of your workplace held by current and potential employees – your reputation as an employer.

Given today’s tight labor market, you’ll need a strong, enticing and unique employer brand to stand out in front of top talent. To put it another way, a positive employer brand is essential to recruiting as well as retaining your best employees. It provides a reason to work for you instead of your competitor down the street.

If you’re unsure where you stand on brand, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In iHire’s recent survey of 688 U.S. employers, 39.1% of organizations did not have an employer branding strategy and 20.1% were “unsure” of their branding efforts. With unemployment rates remaining low, it couldn’t be a better time to focus on building your employer brand. To help you more readily reap the benefits, here are five facts about employer branding to know:

1. Employer brand and corporate brand are different but complementary.

As mentioned, your employer brand involves your company’s reputation as an employer. Your corporate brand, on the other hand, comprises your company’s reputation as a business or provider of products and/or services. However, employer and corporate brand represent two sides of the same coin, as both are supported by your company’s core values, mission and culture. Note that it is possible to have a negative employer brand and a positive corporate brand, and vice versa. For example, Amazon consistently ranks among the world’s top corporate brands. However, the e-commerce giant has been in the news lately for its poor working conditions. You may not hesitate to buy from Amazon, but there’s a good chance you won’t apply for a position in their warehouses any time soon.

2. Companies of all sizes should have an employer branding strategy.

Although 43.9% of employers iHire surveyed who did not have a strategy or were unsure of their efforts identified as a small business (1–10 employees), the notion that employer branding is only for large enterprises is a myth. In a time when consumers don’t hesitate to share their negative experiences with a business online (or by word of mouth), your reputation can take a hit – fast – no matter your company’s size. Conversely, a positive experience with your brand can augment your public image, which helps entice job applicants.

3. Employer branding doesn’t have to be costly or require extra time and resources.

Enhancing your employer brand doesn’t necessarily require an overhaul of your sales collateral, a new department or expensive market research. Rather, it begins with a set of core values that drive a nurturing company culture. Once you define those values, the rest should begin to fall into place. That’s not to say you won’t spend any money, but there are some low- or no-cost ways to boost your brand. For example, create a video depicting a “day in the life” at your workplace and share it on your website, social media channels and external job postings. You could also gather and publish testimonials from employees describing what makes your company a great place to work. To look at the cost of employer branding another way, a positive image can actually save you money – a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review found that companies with negative reputations paid at least 10% more per hire.

4. Employer branding isn’t just for companies who hire frequently.

Whether you hire 10 or 100 times a year, you need to find and onboard talent quickly. But that’s only half of the equation; you also need to retain that talent. By establishing an engaging work environment that is reflected in your employer branding elements, you can deter costly turnover and raise employee performance. Further, a strong employer brand makes staff feel proud of where they work. This positively impacts productivity, quality and customer satisfaction and therefore, your bottom line.

5. You can measure the impact of employer branding.

Contrary to popular belief, you can measure the efficacy of employer branding. While it may not be as simple as calculating operational cash flow or net revenue, there are plenty of metrics that depict the value of your employer brand. For example, if you have a low staff turnover rate, you likely have a positive employer brand. Or, if you are experiencing a high volume of qualified job applicants, you must be doing something right. Additional KPIs to consider include: number of applications per job ad, employee satisfaction scores, number of employee referrals, and cost-per-hire.

By now you should have a clearer understanding of employer branding – what it is and why you need it. For your next step, I encourage you to check the pulse of your current employer brand. Do this by surveying your employees about their sentiments toward your workplace. Do they enjoy working for you? Why or why not? What do they wish you would do differently? What keeps them from pursuing opportunities elsewhere? Do they feel you are adequately supporting their professional and personal goals?

Based on this feedback, you can identify a set of core values (or revisit your existing set). Then, align your policies, programs and other “perks” with those tenets. These changes, big and small, will in turn transform your culture – where your employer brand begins, grows and lives.

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