Why Employer Branding Should Play a Central Role in Your Reputation Management Strategy
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AI-powered content for employer branding
Reputation is one of the most critical assets drivers for attracting top talent, and for compelling customers and third parties to engage with a business.
Just as financial performance and social responsibility initiatives influence how people see you, your employer brand plays an important role in shaping your overall image. It’s one of your key messaging tools that lets customers, clients, employees and candidates know what your organisation stands for and what it’s really like working for you.
Here to offer advice on using EB as an effective part of your strategy are a number of successful employer branding leaders, who’ve shared their thoughts on the crucial role it plays in shaping perception and mitigating reputational crises if they arise.
Employer branding helps to both build and protect your reputation. Of course companies want to be seen as a top employer and trusted brand, but how can we achieve this if we continue to boast only about the strengths, benefits and opportunities that lay within? We must bring the days to a close where we brag about how great our workplaces are, which I know is hard because most of us are incredibly proud of where we work.
We owe it to our existing people and those considering joining us to tell the whole truth about what can be expected as well as what’s possible. It’s the only way to bring real happiness to people and, in turn, sustainable success and a trusted reputation to our organization.
I see reputation management as the governance of how your key stakeholders like consumers, investors, providers, (future) employees, government agencies, NGOs, etc. perceive your company on topics like sustainability, financial performance, ethics, careers, social responsibility, and many more.
Employer branding is responsible for a lot of that. It affects your reputation just as much as your financial performance or corporate social responsibility does. The messages you convey about your business and brand in EB are a key part of building your reputation, or responding to a crisis that potentially impacts your relationship with stakeholders.
Your engagement scores are helpful – use those insights. Are your employees proud to work with you? Are they willing to promote you? Let employees tell the story about why they love working here.
Another good thing to do is show how your employees impact and support your company’s social responsibility activities.
A positive employer brand helps to attract and retain top talent in the industry.
In today’s world, a reputation crisis can wreak havoc on a company’s ability to hire talent for many years to come. It is therefore critical to align your reputation management and employer branding strategies, to ensure you can identify any potential risks and be prepared to combat any crises if they arise.
By using data gained from the employment branding analysis, a company can identify if there are any reputational risks to be aware of and they're able to put in place a proactive reputation management plan to combat any negative communications coming from current or past employees.
Candidates today are looking for honesty and transparency when an organisation faces a reputational crisis. They want to know that the company acknowledges their error and are taking proactive steps to fix it and for it not to occur again in the future.
Focus on the employee experience by monitoring and responding to employee reviews, and gathering and actioning employee feedback. Also, encourage employees to become ambassadors.
A diversified portfolio of communication channels showcasing initiatives, associates’ voices and your company’s impact on society, is a key pillar of a reputation strategy.
Externally, whether on social media or an industry specific website, it's critical to show up to build up and influence our sentiment as employers. On the flip side, it's equally important to create internal partnerships with employees who can advocate for positive experiences within your company, or help to create change if positive sentiment is not there.
Our associates are some of our largest influencers from an employer branding perspective, so listening internally only makes us stronger for those external pillars. As with any relationship, it's important to build trust through honest and direct communication, no matter the circumstances.
Highlight associates who are strong examples of your EVP (EI+D, career pathing, etc.). Showcase how they’ve built a long and successful career with you and how others can too.
Highlight how your organisation responded to COVID – a tangible example of how an employer shows up and responds to a crisis.
Too often, brands rely on communications "spokespeople" and do not provide an authentic voice. Yes, collaborating with a third party to drive your purpose and higher order value can help in times of crisis, but an "always on" content strategy of employer brand content across social media (including LinkedIn) supports your reputation consistently.
As employer brand matures across the MarComm and talent marketing ecosystem, your people can help position you as a model in your industry, encourage both prospects and customers to do business with you, and future-proof your reputation.
PR or corporate comms is NOT employer branding. A company's reputation hinges on the unifying proposition of how it feels to work within its culture/environment. The point of reference is delivered from its people, not its press releases. Surveying talent, recording and sharing their stories is a helpful way to support a company's reputation.
Another interesting point is that recent studies have shown that prospective talent will take a 15% pay cut if the brand they are considering joining is purpose or mission-driven. Therefore, you should amplify the larger purpose story of your company. It leads to productivity and pride in employees, and provides content for employees to share with prospects as well as customers.
Reputation management is at the heart of employer branding. I certainly won't be the first or last to say that every company has a reputation as an employer – the choice is how your organisation will systematically manage and influence that reputation. And it's increasingly important as information has become more readily available.
One of the most basic examples of EB tying into reputation management is employer review sites. We're all familiar with statistics showing that a significant number of candidates search Glassdoor reviews before applying to a company. Have you ever noticed Glassdoor and Indeed company ratings on Google job posts? Similarly, Comparably has just announced a new partnership to display company ratings on Ziprecruiter. Do you receive any candidates from these sources? What are they learning about your company as an employer? Is it influencing the right people to advance further into the funnel and driving others to opt out?
Create a strategy to manage employer review sites. Start by monitoring those sites to understand what is being shared, then develop, align on, and socialise a plan for actioning the feedback you are gathering. Respond to standout reviews and engage your people to leave sincere feedback. And if you are going to start asking for employee feedback, you need to clearly communicate not only why you are spending time on it but why your people should also take the time to leave the review. What’s in it for them?
Leverage strategic partnerships to reach critical talent pools: Many employee resource groups partner with nonprofits like the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). These partnerships create an opportunity to connect with local talent, workers within a certain profession, or underrepresented groups – and they often align to your hiring needs.
Are you highlighting these partnerships and the opportunities your people are receiving through them in your content? If you’re publishing blogs, when’s the last time you examined your search engine optimisation strategies? Are there opportunities for the partner to play the influencer role and instead feature your organisation in their publication?
Finally, use employee advocacy as a power play: one of the quickest ways to amplify your company’s messages is by activating your employees to share the content. And it’s not because of strength in numbers. It’s because people trust people over brands.
It's important that reputation management be an always-on strategy, not just something that is looked at when a crisis arises. Going into a crisis with a strong reputation can mitigate any fallout but going into a crisis without an established reputation (or with one that is poorly perceived) can exacerbate it.
An impactful and authentic employer brand supports and drives reputation management, partly by better enabling organisations to attract and retain top talent – which are key drivers for company success. Companies with positive reputations, a track record for corporate responsibility, etc. are perceived to be a better employer and provide more value to employees who are demanding more than good salaries and benefits (which are now table stakes).
Also, clients are more likely to do business with companies with happy, engaged employees.
Show your employees. Tell their stories in an authentic way – it doesn't have to be overly produced or polished (and in some cases it's maybe even better for it not to be). Show how your employees support and give back to the communities in which they live and work.
Another example is providing company sponsorship to organisations and nonprofits that uphold and represent your company and employees' values.
Finally, listen to your employees through internal surveys and other means and recalibrate/evolve as necessary.
Employer branding should be at the core of any reputation management strategy. An employer with a positive reputation not only attracts better talent, but also has low hiring costs and low employee turnover.
When employees vent against their employer in public, it can have a far-reaching negative impact on the overall reputation of the employer. As per a recent study by Randstad, 86% of workers would not apply for, or continue to work for, a company that has a bad reputation with former employees or the general public!
Also, for many organisations nowadays, to varying degrees, their employees can also be their customers, so it’s important to generate positive employee sentiment about a company from more than one perspective.
Employer branding is simply a company's reputation as an employer and the value it brings to its employees. So being authentic and caring about the experience provided to talent and employees goes a long way in strengthening the employer brand.
Some recommendations are, firstly, stay true to who you are as an organisation and let your employees share their experiences in their own words.
Also, be transparent and care about what people say about you: review sites like Glassdoor have become an essential resource in candidates' journeys. It's important to listen to what people say about you, appreciate positive reviews, empathise with the reviewers who had a negative experience and try to address the grievances.
You should also make it easy for candidates to access the information they seek at different stages in their journey (attraction, engagement, application and onboarding).This has a very positive impact on their experience and on your reputation overall.
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Packed with real examples and checklists to win the hearts and minds of employees