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Employer brand management: The next step for employers?

WLA9109 Aug The next step for employers Content

We know that in today's talent climate, crafting an employer brand isn't a plus – it's a must. But are you still viewing employer branding as a tick-box exercise?

If you are, I’ve got news for you. Developing your employer brand is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

So how do you take employer branding further?

Enter employer brand management.

But hang on, isn’t that just the same as employer branding?

Well, not quite. You probably think that a traditional employer branding exercise looks like this: you develop an EVP, set up social platforms and develop a tagline-dependent campaign. You then roll that out consistently across all your channels, ensuring your brand is seamlessly integrated across all candidate touchpoints.

All well and good.

But it’s not so good if the company down the road is taking things a bit more seriously.

Employer brand management is about more than just developing an employer brand. It’s about keeping a vigilant watch over the identity you’ve created, carefully overseeing and curating your messaging to ensure that it’s consistently communicated.

Most significantly, it’s proactive, ever evolving and weaves your EVP throughout everything you do.

In other words, employer brand management is like being a guardian of your company's reputation as a great place to work. It's about making sure everyone sees and believes the same message about your company – every day, both inside and out.

So how do you do it?

First, a word to the wise. If you’ve outsourced your employer branding but, as CEO or senior leadership team you weren’t involved in that process, you need to think again.

You might think that creating an employer brand is the domain of your HR and marketing teams (and you’d be correct), but answer this: who is responsible for managing that employer brand?

In other words, who does the buck stop with when it comes to your reputation as an employer?

Yep, you got it. You. So let’s get this straight: you cannot have good values and culture and demonstrate them transparently on social media and through word of mouth if you are not leading with them personally.

Ok, lecture over. Now let’s get down to the practical side: what an employer brand management strategy actually looks like and how to build one.

  • Picture your dream team

    Understanding the kind of talent you need is the first step in employer brand management. And when I say talent I'm also talking about the skills and capabilities you need to keep your business running and growing. If your employer brand isn't based on who you're looking for, why you want them and how many you need, you're in trouble from the start.

    1. Peek outside the box

    Yes that's right – to truly manage your employer brand you need to take an external view, and that means doing some undercover detective work. Check out what the grapevine is saying about your company. Sneak around online reviews. Chat with previous candidates, and listen in on social media chatter. Prepare to uncover some enlightening nuggets. Oh, and don’t forget: you'll need to know what people are saying about your competitors, too.

    • Flaunt your stuff

    This means having a good hard look at yourselves – in a good way. What makes your company a hot pick? Is it your cool culture, innovation and technology, or something else? Flaunt your strengths, but also dream big: what qualities do you want your future employees to have? And which areas of the business do you need to strengthen?

    • Craft your brand magic

    Here's the juicy part: your employee value proposition (EVP). This is effectively your employer brand platform – the springboard for all your activities. It’s the three or four areas you’re going to focus on. But it’s also your identity as an employer: your look, feel and tone of voice. It might also mean a social media campaign, but don’t get too hung up on this. Remember that, in these days of consumers paying less and less attention to paid content, one all-encompassing campaign might not be as effective as a more diverse content strategy – or even one that relies mostly on word of mouth. The most important thing is that you build a platform that works.

    • Let the world know

    This is where you plan and execute your communication. Ideally this will happen both externally and internally. After all, you want to build engagement and advocacy within the business as well as interest outside of it. Otherwise where are all those employee-generated stories going to come from?

    • Create the ultimate workplace experience

    Think of this like creating a VIP lounge for your employees. Make onboarding a breeze, serve up learning opportunities and keep that work-life balance on point. Remember, happy employees are your brand's best ambassadors. This is marketing in its truest form: after all, in consumer marketing you have to keep improving the product, right? Employer branding is no different.

    • Count those wins

    A big part of employer brand management is tracking where you’re making progress, so don’t forget to measure your results. With the right ATS it’s easy to measure things like applications, turnover and how happy your team is. These stats give you an idea of whether your brand strategy is winning hearts or if it needs a little extra love.

    • Keep the brand sizzle alive

    Most importantly, don’t make the mistake so many CEOs make and think employer branding is a one-off task. The unpopular news is that this is something you need to refresh all the time, not just every 5 years.

    Sure, we’re used to thinking of employer branding as a campaign – you develop an EVP, create a campaign and run with a tagline. But things are changing.

    Gone are the days when you could just keep banging on with the same manufactured advertising message. So don’t let your strategy gather dust – check in regularly to see if your brand is still shining. That means understanding which content works, which messaging resonates and how it’s working. And not being afraid to change things as you go along.

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