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8 steps to developing a great employer branding strategy

A strong employer branding strategy can help improve talent acquisition & retention. Here is all you need to know about building your own employer branding strategy.

Krishan Patel image

Written by Krishan Patel

1 Oct, 2023  –  4 min read

Employer branding strategy is one of the hottest concepts in recruitment marketing and employee retention. Many companies worldwide are really waking up to the importance of employer branding for attracting the cream of the crop and keeping them. Research indicates successful employer branding can reduce staff turnover by 28% and reduce hiring costs by up to half.

You and your company won’t want to be left behind when it comes to employer branding strategy. So, read on to discover more about building employer branding, or if you want to improve the one currently in place at your company.

What is an employer branding strategy?

Employer branding strategy helps you optimise and positively influence how your brand as an employer is perceived by prospective candidates. This helps improve talent attraction & retention. It’s a fusion of the values, policies, and ethical standards that people automatically associate with your company. To understand how important this is, you might like to consider what three things come to mind when people hear your company’s name. Then ask yourself, is this the image of my company I want to promote? 

Employer branding strategy also creates a clear picture of everything your company can offer to prospective employees. This would range from salary and future career progression opportunities to their sense of purpose and community within the company. 

Keep in mind that the average employee spends around 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lives. Often, our work and where it takes place form a core part of our identity. Many job applicants now have a wide range of considerations that go beyond their pay packet. They’ll be looking for a role where they will feel fulfilled and a part of something significant.

Also, employer branding in 2023 looks different. As we settle into life post-pandemic there has been a shift in both workplace and job-seeking culture, with almost all processes moving online and social media playing a huge role.

Taking advantage of a strong social media presence for employer branding is a great way for companies to reach a vast demographic of job hunters. Many companies are using the Instagram story feature to share either still images or videos about vacancies. This has the power to grab the interest of people not actively seeking new jobs.

Why an employer branding strategy is important

The top talent knows that job applications are a two-way street. They realise they’re offering the company the very best, so naturally, they’re looking for a company that will offer them the very best in return. 

The Edelman Barometer 2021 study indicated that 53% of people were more likely to trust those in similar roles to themselves. This is still true in 2023, combined with overall ethos and reputation, positive employee testimonials can form part of a rich story that the company tells the world about itself.

Savvy potential applicants will look to see what current and past employees have to say on platforms such as Glassdoor. Prospective employees will often look at staff turnover when they’re job hunting and high churn can raise red flags. They want to hear from happy, fulfilled employees who love what they do and have scope to develop within the company. 

When you consider that 87% of job hunters may discard their application after reading a negative review, it’s clear that a positive branding strategy is crucial in attracting staff. No presence at all can also be damaging – if applicants can’t find the information they’re looking for they might decide to apply elsewhere. So, be sure to include positive testimonies in your content from current employees, creating a collection of authentic stories will boost your company’s credibility.

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How to develop a best-in-class employer branding strategy 

Once you appreciate the value of an employer branding strategy, you’ll be eager to put one in place right away. So, how do you set about creating the most effective strategy you can? Consider the following tips on this simple checklist for a great start.

1. Review what makes your company different   

What you might think of as its unique selling point, and capitalise on this. Employer branding strategy is all about individuality, making your company stand out in a sea of competitors. 

2. Define your EVPEmployee Value Proposition

A rock-solid employee value proposition is like a pyramid. It starts with a strong package of compensation and benefits at its base. This is a good start but for long-term staff retention, you need to add progression opportunities, and support well-being. Finally, at the very top, the best companies will give their employees a sense of purpose and fulfilment. 

3. Assess current recruitment challenges   

From the speed at which you can fill positions to finding applicants with the right qualifications and levels of experience, find long-term solutions to any obstacles. 

4. Utilise digital marketing channels      

Remember, it’s an online world now. The three top platforms for extending your employer brand include social media, popular online professional networks such as LinkedIn, and your company’s website. So, make sure to share your employer branding videos and other content on every channel available.

5. Produce a set of brand guidelines   

Consistent branding helps companies to be easily recognisable. It will also support employee advocacy by empowering employees to create on-brand content and stay true to your brand messaging.

6. Create opportunities to get feedback from current employees

Employees are your eyes and ears on the ground. Anonymous employee satisfaction surveys are a great way to do this. Make sure you include opportunities for your employees to share their ideas for improving your company culture, and also what they feel you’re currently getting right, so you know what to build upon.

7. Incorporate goals and measure success   

This part is all about creating and smashing those SMART targets – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific goals.

8. Support Charitable Foundations 

Many companies create a positive employer brand by either founding or supporting charitable foundations. Alternatively, your company could champion societal or environmental causes.

Employer branding strategy best practices & examples

Employer branding strategy has the power to make your company really stand out from the crowd to potential job applicants. Job applicants may apply to many companies at once, but you want to be their top choice. It is always a good idea to look at companies with a successful employer branding strategy for examples of best practices and then see how you can implement these techniques within your own company. Keep an open mind, as when it comes to building employer branding, there are often a lot of transferable ideas and concepts that can be taken from companies that offer vastly different products and services to your own.

1. John Lewis

John Lewis enjoys a reputation as a fantastic employer. This is no accident as it’s the result of a carefully cultivated employer branding strategy. John Lewis provides a very specific EVP, and this includes its approach to profit-sharing with staff. All employees become partners with shares in the company, which helps promote a tangible sense of belonging and ownership that leads to better staff retention rates.

2. Google

Another strong example of building employer branding is found at Google. This successful, global company has no shortage of applicants wanting to work for them – they receive more than 3 million résumés every year. Google has chosen to focus on the emotional well-being and fulfilment aspects of the EVP pyramid. Providing a supportive and positive workplace culture has become synonymous with Google’s ethos and employer brand. Checkout our webinar where Mary Streetzel, Head of Employer Brand at Google discusses how she blazed a trail creating Google’s first Employer Brand team and how she heads up the department that connects Google with its millions of applicants each year.

3. Greggs

Greggs also has a strong employer brand strategy and is known as a positive and ethical employer. Like Google, their employer branding involves a focus on employee well-being and includes running a range of health and well-being programmes. This popular bakery has also chosen to make an impact on societal issues by creating The Greggs Foundation, which supports disadvantaged communities and individuals facing challenges with their mental health.

4. Salesforce

You might like to take a leaf out of Salesforce’s book and encourage your employees to broaden their horizons by trying out a new role. This CRM company enjoys high levels of employee satisfaction due to its ongoing commitment to professional development and career progression at all levels. Employees here don’t need to worry about stagnating in the same role. Instead, they’re allowed to experience new responsibilities and are supported to progress. This helps to retain current employees and also helps to attract new talent as part of a purposeful employer branding strategy.

Many companies will benefit from taking a holistic approach that takes all three parts of the EVP pyramid into account. This would address pay and benefits, experiential issues with well-being and career progression, and the emotional element encompassing a sense of purpose. However, it’s worth noting that rather than stretching themselves too thin, these successful companies have all chosen one or two key aspects of the EVP to focus on. Think about which strategy would work best for your business, and then you can implement it.

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