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What’s your Employer Brand? Part 1

Published July 27, 2016

Happy Employees make for a better employer brand“Employer Brand” is not a new term by any stretch of the imagination, but it has become a bit buzzwordy in the last few years. Maybe not for HR professionals as they have either struggled to define their respective companies employer brand or have forged ahead with plans that have paid dividends (and everything in between). But as candidates become more and more aware of how a company’s culture can affect their performance, it is becoming top-of-mind for the best talent in the workforce.

First, what is employer brand? Just like how a consumer brand is based on the reputation of the company, product, or service, an employer brand is a reputation of how well the company fares as an employer. With a consumer brand, potential customers determine if the value proposition of the product meets their needs. Similarly, there is a value proposition of the employer for potential employees to mull over as well. This means that employer brands encompass everything prospective and current employees will see with regards to your hiring process, training, engagement, benefits, succession, etc.

A weak employer brand will hurt your company sooner rather than later. Sure, you may be able to still hire the best talent around. However, if your culture is poor (at least for the people you are hiring), and you do not provide the key benefits that your workers demand, you will either lose your top talent or will have to pay above market rates to retain them. That’s a horrible way to keep employees.

With the increased popularity of social media, applicants have access to actual employees of the companies for which they are applying. Imagine a brilliant ad campaign that espouses all the virtues of a product, but once someone buys it, they find out it’s not so great and the manufacturer’s customer service was equally bad. They then tell their friends about their horrible experience. Just like that word-of-mouth about a product (which can spread far and wide if it goes viral), your workers will reveal more about what it’s like to work at your company than all external branding efforts combined. If done right, your workers will be espousing the virtues of employment at your company.

In today’s world, your employees have to be the one’s promoting your workplace. They ARE your employer brand. If they aren’t fulfilled in their work and if they don’t feel engaged, the chances of them becoming advocates for your company diminishes.

In light of this, how does a company even define their current employer brand? Company culture plays the major role. No matter how you create your culture, defining it in terms that people can relate to can be quite difficult. Some companies offer workplace culture assessments for employers to give to their employees. Usually, the results are pages of fluff, yet written in scientific mumbo-jumbo. Obviously, the assessment company wants to look like they know what they’re doing, so real-world language, unfortunately, isn’t the goal. We’ve heard of companies bringing these assessment results to a branding agency and asking “Can you look at this and create value statements that we can use to explain our culture to attract talent?”

The second problem is while you can use tools to figure out what your current culture is, that culture may not be the ideal culture for your current workforce. Plum is devising a way to ask your employee’s culture-based questions but in two separate contexts. What is the culture of the company as it stands today, and what is the ideal culture for them individually? Since you would have every employee take this assessment, trends and consensus will most likely emerge and by doing so, you can create ways to get your culture to where it needs to be.

Employer branding isn’t easy, but workplace culture should be the first place to start to gain valuable insights which should give you a fantastic ability to see tangible results.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we will go into more detail about the tools Plum is building around this important topic.

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