Employer Branding: It's the Employees, Stupid!

The concept of "employer branding" is becoming increasingly popular, especially among companies desperate to recruit coveted specialists such as developers and engineers. However, many HR departments still forget to explore the full potential of their most valuable asset: their own employees. Basically, employer branding means that, instead of promoting your company as a manufacturer of a range of products or the provider of a range of services, you present it as a great place to work. Your employees can help you do that like no advertising campaign can - and you're about to find out how.

1. Be a good employer This may sound painfully obvious, but it's essential for everything that follows: only if your employees genuinely like working for you will you be able to attract and retain top talent. We're living in times of social media, and that means it's impossible to buy yourself a reputation as a great place to work if you're a lousy employer. Your budget should rather be spent on things that improve the working environment.

So how do you know if your employees think you're doing a good job as an employer? A very reliable assessment tool is looking at the degree of engagement your employees show: how willing are they to dedicate their energy and enthusiasm for your company's cause? Important factors that influence employees' engagement levels are the leadership qualities of your people managers, the existence of a convincing, motivating, and unifying corporate vision (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, whether your employees are able to advance their skills and adjust their area of responsibility to match their individual strengths and interests.

2. Tell people about it Are you already a good employer? Then go ahead and show off your perks. Present them on your corporate website and on the various social media channels you use. Tell potential candidates what they can expect if they decide to join your team (e.g. flexible working time models, childcare programs, pension schemes, etc.). Also, tell them why your company is a uniquely great place to work.

3. Ask your employees to become brand ambassadors The best advertisement you can get for your employer brand is recommendations from your employees: it's the only form of advertisement that is authentic and therefore highly credible. So reach out to your employees and ask them to become your ambassadors. Here are ways for them to get involved:

  • Set up an employee referral program for your job vacancies. You may want to incentivise this with a bonus for every successful referral.
  • Ask your employees to share vacancies and exciting company news with their social media contacts (e.g. on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
  • Invite your employees as well as interns and job applicants to give you authentic feedback on employer review platforms such as kununu.com or glassdoor.com. Be sure to reply publicly and adequately to critical remarks: it's your opportunity to show others that you take criticism seriously and want to use it to become an even better employer.

These measures will go a long way in strengthening your employer brand and supporting your recruiting activities.

Are you already involving your employees as ambassadors for your employer brand? What are things that, in your experience, work exceptionally well? And were there aspects that didn't turn out to be as successful as you had hoped? We'd love to hear your insights: feel free to leave a comment below.

If you would like to read more about the topic, then download the eBook The Future of Employee Engagement by Christina Evans; available at bookboon.com.