We all understand the concept of branding. It’s the foot forward, the outward image and the recognizable bits that make the whole of any business’s identity. Businesses are meticulous about developing logos, marketing materials, ad campaigns and websites that communicate just the right thing in just the right way. Weeks, even months will be spent refining and perfecting a five-word slogan or a sentence-long mission statement—they matter that much! Couple those carefully crafted statements and images with the product or service offered, and a brand is born. Most business owners undoubtedly understand the value of all of this: their external brand image.
But, what about the internal image of the company–the employer brand? This isn’t a new concept, but it is one that seems to be overlooked too often. What is it exactly? It is commonly defined, as the “sum of a company’s efforts to communicate to existing and prospective staff what makes it a desirable place to work” or “the active management of a company’s image as seen through the eyes of its associates and potential hires.” And, whether business owners choose to be intentional about it or not, employer branding does matter.
But, why does it matter, you ask? Well, Mister or Miss Employer, whether you are hiring or not, don’t you want people to want to work for you? If the perception is that your company is the place to be, you’ll have no shortage of talent vying to work there. Whereas, if the word on the street is that all of your employees are unhappy and planning their resignations (or mutiny), you might have a big problem on your hands. More resignations than terminations are a direct reflection on your employer brand.
Maybe you aren’t too worried about it. You’ve got bigger things to focus on. Besides, job seekers these days are happy to have any job—they are too desperate to care about this so-called employer brand. Right? Not really. A recent piece by USA Today paints a changing picture, claiming that for the first time since 2008 more people are quitting than are laid off. (A change of seasons just might be coming!)
Thinking it’s time to evaluate your employer brand? We think so. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
A brand isn’t built over night.
Culture shifts take time and buy-in. Leadership must be on board with the culture strategy; they have to be intentional with it and committed to seeing it develop over time.
Employees can be your best or worst brand ambassadors.
Without fail, people end up talking about work outside of work. Those who are unhappy with their work environments are typically pretty free about saying so to anyone who will listen. Every negative word puts the strength of your corporate brand at risk. If you sense an unhealthy environment, it is in your best interest to change it.
Though the public sometimes forgives, media and the Internet rarely let us forget.
With websites out there like glassdoor.com, where current, former and prospective employees give feedback on a company, it’s pretty hard to escape a negative employer reputation if you have one. No one expects a company to be perfect, but when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, it’s important to be mindful of what is being said about you. Making yourself privy to such information might even help you to examine flawed systems and make improvements.
Perception is reality.
Argue against the concept and you’ll find yourself right back where you started. It shouldn’t be the case, but it is. People, the public, customers, clients, prospective hires–they all have eyes, ears, opinions, and perceptions. If they’ve seen it, heard it or read it, there’s a chance they’ll believe it.
Back to our original question: what does your employer brand say about you? Were you aware that you had one? Are you fighting to reinvent yours?
Let us know what your experience has been with employer brands—positive or negative. We’d love to hear from employers and employees on the issue.