How Employer Branding Affects Recruiting and Retention

You’ve been exposed to branding your whole life. From the cute, round face on the baby food jar to the senior citizen commercials that play during The Price is Right (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”), countless organizations want you to remember who they are and how you can interact with them. When it comes to finding and keeping the right people for your organization, effective employer branding does the same thing.

This might seem like a post aimed at marketing more than HR, and it’s true that brand is a huge consideration in marketing. One of the best perks of being on the creative team at BambooHR is getting to watch the designers and video team visualize our brand, whether that’s creating an epic adventure for Pudgy the Panda’s appearance at the SHRM National conference or editing the shot of our lead recruiter rappelling through the ceiling tiles for our TV commercial.

Pudgy’s Epic Journey for the SHRM National Conference

It’s great to have a talented team to promote our brand. But without HR’s efforts to help realize our leadership’s vision, our branding would have less support than an empty mascot costume. Going back to the definition of branding, getting your audience to know your organization is only half the equation; they also need to decide how they’re going to interact with you. Successful branding relies on solid performances from all parts of the organization to develop positive long-term interactions, whether you’re looking for repeat customers or, in our case, for loyal, engaged employees.

Optimizing the Face and the Voice

Employer branding has changed drastically over the years. Before smartphones put the Internet in our pocket, companies focused on print, radio, and broadcast advertising to interact with the public, and messages to potential employees were limited to a few lines in a classified ad or a help wanted sign in the window. If job applicants wanted an inside look at life at the company, they would need to talk to someone who worked there.

In the past, organizations had control of both the face they presented to the public and the voice of their messaging. But with the rise of social media and employer review sites, past and current employees now have a megaphone for telling prospective employees anything they want about their experience. So while employers still control the face of their organization with their marketing, they have much less control over the associations people make with their branding. (Fun example: Google “Ronald McDonald” and the first entry in the People Also Searched For section is Stephen King’s It, which is probably not the association McDonald’s had in mind.)

As you consider your employer brand, it’s important to manage your reputation with your employees as well as with your customers. With both groups, this process begins with removing miscommunications and letting your results speak for themselves.

Getting the Word Out

What should your employer branding communicate? According to a survey from Glassdoor.com, as people research companies online, they’re looking for five important pieces of information: salary/compensation, benefits, basic company information, what makes it an attractive place to work, and the company’s mission, vision, and values.

The Glassdoor study also found that 69 percent of those who visit Glassdoor are likely to apply to employers who take an active hand in branding by responding to reviews and keeping their profiles updated. Current information has a greater impact than old information.

If it’s important to communicate this information to potential candidates, is it any less important to communicate it to your current employees? If anything, it’s more important than ever, as you’re counting on your employees to help you promote a positive work experience to your candidates.

How do you communicate these pieces of information? Here are a few ideas that should be part of your employer branding:

Salary/Compensation: Potential employees will compare the compensation you offer to their current compensation. Current employees will compare their current compensation to the compensation you’re offering to new candidates. Both are looking for improvement and a situation that supports their standard of living. For the best long-term results, it’s important to match expectations for both: don’t promise in your marketing what you can’t deliver afterward.

Benefits: As part of a total compensation package, the other benefits you offer can factor into the value your employees get from your company. But do your employees see benefits as assets, or as dollars withheld from their paychecks? Research from Thompson Online Benefits shows that when employees get a total rewards statement, they’re twice as likely to see the benefits your organization offers as unique (93.8 percent versus 46.6 percent). Encourage your employees to use the value you provide for them.

Mission, Vision, and Values: These aspects of your organization need to be more than just posters on the wall that blend in with your office decor. How do your values translate into measurable actions? Our values have gotten a workout during the past few months at BambooHR; we’ve gotten outside with Enjoy Quality of Life, tracked daily gratitude with Assume the Best, and focused on helping other teams with Lead from Where You Are.

Results Worth Talking About

Here are the final questions: What makes an organization an attractive place to work, and how much of that question can you really answer with official messaging? You might not have a lot of control over salary or even benefits, and you have no control over what other organizations offer. But as you continue to communicate with your potential and current employees through effective employer branding, your consistency helps build trust. The people that come in contact with you or your employees will know that your organization is more than just a pretty brand. They’ll see an organization that provides real results in the ways that matter most: for their finances, for their future, and for their human needs.