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Building an Employer Branding Strategy

Employees High Fiving

Quick Look: 2021 saw an enormous amount of workforce changes, as flexible office schedules, learning and development opportunities, better benefits, and higher wages became the new standard. However, meeting these new employee requirements simply isn’t enough anymore. To attract top candidates, businesses will need to prioritize employer branding and make communicating their company mission, value proposition, and corporate culture a priority.

Job security is stabilizing, the economy is poised for steady growth, and businesses are finally re-opening. At the same time, many employees are beginning to rethink their priorities, including what they want in a career and from employers. As a result, organizations in every industry are struggling with a mass exodus of talented people. Some are heading for other companies, some are seeking higher education, and some are leaving the corporate world altogether.

Wherever these workers are going, they’re leaving in droves. 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs in October, as workers continued to search for better opportunities. Fortunately, employer branding has emerged as a top recruiting and retention strategy for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as they navigate the new talent landscape.

An employer brand describes the reputation you have as a company. It includes your employee value proposition, your reputation as a place to work, the experience you provide to both candidates and employees, and what differentiates you from your competitors. 95% of candidates say that the reputation of the company they’re applying for is a major consideration when applying for a new job. Workers value reputation and they want to know that their potential employer has a good one.

With talent attraction becoming not only more difficult, but also more important, building a strong employer branding strategy and effectively highlighting your mission, beliefs, and company culture, will help increase your number of qualified applications, and reduce costly employee turnover.

Strengthening your employer brand

The workplace has dramatically changed over the last 20 months, leaving many companies with old and outdated branding that no longer delivers what employees want. Candidate preferences have changed too, and attracting talent is as much about social corporate responsibility as it is about salaries. Many workers, especially younger generations, have come to expect an alignment between their personal brands and those of their employers.

Here are several strategies SMB leaders can use to refine their employer brands and make their business a more attractive place to work.

Focus on employee engagement

Good employer branding attracts better candidates. Better candidates lead to less turnover and more active, engaged employees. But how can SMB leaders increase employee engagement and in turn boost their employer branding?

Employees want to feel respected. They want to know their work is valued and their opinions are heard. SMB employers should use employee engagement surveys, one-on-one check-ins with HR and management, and anonymous suggestion boxes to actively solicit employee input and ask questions about their overall experience. Track your eNPS (employee net promoter score) to ensure things are moving in a positive direction and adjust where needed.

Reward and recognition programs are also a great way to keep employees engaged. When employees feel recognized for their work, they will have a stronger desire to help the company succeed. An employee of the month program, yearly top performance awards, a bonus system, awards of cash or gift cards, or company swag giveaways are all simple recognition programs SMB leaders can implement.

Additionally, businesses today are considerably more people-centric than in years past and putting a much stronger focus on lifestyle perks as part of their overall benefits package. Work/life balance, flexibility, wellness programs, and open lines of communication are now part of the corporate culture the modern workforce is yearning for.

Enhance your internet presence

Potential candidates have an army of online tools at their disposal to gain insights into your company. In fact, the 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report suggests that job seekers get their information about an employer’s company culture through a combination of different platforms, including job boards or review sites like Glassdoor (37%), social media (33%), and an employer’s website (32%). These have become powerful areas where employees and candidates can share their thoughts, experiences, and unfortunately—office rants.

Employers should use this feedback as an opportunity to learn how their company can improve. Take the time to reply to reviews, both positive and negative, to show job seekers that you care. Actively building and populating your social media and other company pages with content, open career positions, videos, and more, can help your company positively demonstrate its culture.

Update your website

Your website is likely the first place a potential candidate will visit to learn more about your company. Ensure your messaging is accurate, current, and consistent across all pages. Does your website showcase what makes your business a great place to work? Are you using testimonials and case studies from employees and leadership?

Show job seekers a realistic picture of what it’s like to work at your business by posting real photos and videos of your employees both at work and at company events. These events could include industry conferences, holiday parties, fundraising activities for non-profits or charitable associations—any event that gives candidates insight into your culture and what it’s like to work for you. Leverage your employees as brand ambassadors and include personalized messages about why they love working for your business. When done right, your website can be your best recruiting tool.

Humble brag

Do you offer Fortune 500-level benefit plans? Does your company culture include an awesome work/life balance? Can employees choose from voluntary benefits like life insurance, pet health coverage, legal services, and financial counseling? You already know that your organization is a great place to work, so be loud and proud about what employees will receive when they sign with your business. Make sure they’re listed on the career page of your website and actively promote them for recruiting and retention purposes.

Apply for company awards

Industry awards are a great way to back up your claims as a great place to work. These awards are typically given based on feedback and surveys from your employees and help to demonstrate company legitimacy and third-party credibility. Culture awards can also be a great recruiting tool to attract top talent. People want to be part of a winning team and awards communicate a high-level of investment, ensuring employee morale and retention remains high (visit any careers page and you’ll likely see various award badges branded front and center).

Winning an employer award is also a great way to gain publicity for your brand. Award winners are typically given a suite of marketing and PR tools including an award logo badge, social media graphics and branded hashtags, a press release template, and the elusive SEO backlink.

Community outreach and corporate social responsibility

Volunteering is good for employee morale, engagement, and positive employer brand exposure. Deloitte’s Volunteerism Survey of working Americas revealed that 89% of respondents believe that companies who sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those who do not. Millennials and Gen Z workers, in particular, are putting a stronger emphasis on wanting to work for companies who believe that solving today’s societal issues is just as important as making a profit.

SMB leaders could consider offering volunteer time off (VTO)—employer-sponsored paid time for employees to participate in volunteer work. When people see their company giving back to their local community and caring about social justice issues, while allowing them to volunteer during work hours, they feel more engaged. If offering VTO isn’t possible, employers could also donate to charitable organizations or sponsor fundraising events. If your applicant pool is local, they will continually be exposed to your employer brand at community events.

A PEO partner can help SMBs maintain a positive employer brand

Building an employer brand is an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation. However, a strong employer branding strategy can help you attract better candidates and reduce employee turnover. Competing in today’s talent landscape can be tricky, and is why many organizations have turned to a professional employer organization (PEO), like ExtensisHR, to help shape their employer brands.

PEO companies are dedicated to helping SMBs like yours become employers of choice. With a staff full of HR experts, your PEO can offer guidance on everything from the salary and benefit packages you offer, to the learning and development programs you provide, to how to improve your employee engagement. Human capital is your biggest investment– and your biggest asset. Thoughtful strategies and careful attention to your employer brand will help boost recruitment efforts, keep current employees engaged, and help you stand out amongst your competitors.

Ready to start revamping your employer brand? Our HR experts are here to help.

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