Why “authentic” shouldn’t be just a buzzword in employer branding (and my tips on how to get it right!)

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Whether you're selling goods, services, technology, or an employee value proposition, there should always be the same first step. It’s critical to identify your message and what makes your story compelling or ‘pop’, before determining the format or channel for communicating to your audience.

On paper it seems simple, but marketers are often dazzled by the prospect of a shiny webinar, blog, or video, and jump to the output channel before they’ve nailed down what they really want to say.  

The same rules apply in the world of employer branding. In fact, when what you’re trying to sell is an employee experience, it’s even more important. Your message should always be a direct reflection of your employees’ experiences.

The role of employee experience in employer branding

An employee’s experience is made up of many different elements – from the projects they work on, their team, manager, and compensation, to their work-life balance, alignment with the company’s values, and overall sense of belonging and recognition. An organisation with a great employer brand is one that accurately highlights what it is like to work for them.  

This often starts right at the beginning, when you’re constructing your employee value proposition (EVP). At this point you should be interviewing your people, diving behind the scenes of their day-to-day, and uncovering what diversity and inclusion looks like in different teams.

Every organisation is unique, and whether you’re peeking behind the office, factory, store, or clinic doors, you will find real humans with real stories to share.

The business impact of a misalignment between the EVP and employee experiences

The business impact can be hugely disruptive where there is misalignment between the EVP (your ‘message’) and real employee experience. Churn and a lack of productivity will likely ensue when employees join a company or team and find the experience is not what they expected or what was pitched to them. There’s no good in claiming that a certain culture exists, when new employees join they’ll soon find it to be entirely different.  

The solution to this is ensuring you have a deep understanding of your employee experience before crafting your EVP.  

Great employer branding can help solve issues around workforce churn and productivity. When candidates have your organisation front of mind and are shown proof-points of what they can expect directly from their future colleagues, the likelihood that the employee who enters the role will love the role is significantly improved.

Tips for shaping an authentic employer brand message

So – where to get started? My top two tips for conveying authentic employee experiences through your employer brand are:

  1. Speak to the people who work for your organisation. They hold the answers when it comes to what makes them passionate about going to work (and what would make others passionate, too!).
  2. Find the parallels between the stories your people share and the values that drive your business. This commonality should be your North Star in crafting employer brand messaging.

In my current role, I am working with scores of global employer branding teams to support them in the strategy behind their brand. From my experience, organisations that let their employees’ experiences shine through their EVP see the greatest success with recruiting and retaining top talent. 

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