Competitive compensation and generous benefits packages are undeniably important when it comes to attracting top talent.
But there’s more to being a coveted workplace than just what you outline in an offer letter.
Today, your employer brand is critical to your company’s success to attract and retain the best workers.
And what matters most isn’t your own messaging. It’s what your employees themselves have to say about your organization — especially online.
“The idea that, even ten years ago, someone may make a career change based on content they found on Instagram or Facebook would have been seen as quite the exception,” says Paul Abercrombie, head of talent acquisition at Bazaarvoice. “Today it’s commonplace.”
Want to be the kind of company that talented and accomplished people are eager to work for? You’ve come to the right place.
Tell your HR department to prep for an influx of applicants, and read on for five effective ways to strengthen your employer reputation.
1. Define the company mission and values — and live them.
Start by laying out exactly what your company stands for and what it aims to achieve.
“The most effective employer brands are rooted in a clear corporate purpose and set of values, which serve to attract job seekers who share those fundamental beliefs,” writes Sarah Jensen Clayton, senior client partner at Korn Ferry.
Let these principles guide the organization and its employees — from the intern to the CEO — every step of the way. In other words, practice what you preach.
“It all starts with authenticity,” Abercrombie says. “Employees are more likely to share their stories around working for a company if it truly is a great place to work.”
Companies that do this well attract workers whose own values closely align with the organization’s, and they’re more productive and engaged employees as a result.
Take REI, for example. The company’s core purpose is to “inspire, educate, and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship,” and its hiring managers look for applicants who share these values.
New hires take part in an orientation program based on these principles, and throughout the year, employees participate in service projects designed to develop camaraderie and reinforce REI’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
REI’s dedication to its mission enables the organization to recruit and retain the right people, so it’s no wonder the company consistently makes lists of the best places to work.
2. Analyze and close any employer reputation gaps.
Ensure your public image actually matches the employee experience.
Many companies may tout themselves as one thing — a people-first organization or an innovative place to work, for example — but their employees often disagree.
Consider, for example, taking a position at a new company because the hiring manager raved about a culture of autonomy, but you find yourself micromanaged at every turn.
Such discrepancies aren’t uncommon in the workplace.
In fact, Weber Shandwick’s survey of nearly 2,000 workers found that only 19% of people said their work experience actually matches what the company promotes on its website, in recruitment, or on its social channels.
This doesn’t only contribute to disgruntled employees, but it also negatively impacts employee engagement, retention, and advocacy. Plus, it can seriously hurt your recruitment efforts.
After all, between employees’ own social posts and the popularity of employer-review sites like Glassdoor, it’s not difficult for people to determine what it’s truly like to work at a given company.
So analyze whether what your company promises actually matches the employee experience.
If you find there’s a discrepancy between what you want your company to be known for and what employees experience, take steps to bridge this gap.
Actually delivering on what you promise will make your employees more likely to post positive comments and reviews about their employer and more likely to recommend the company as a great place to work.
3. Highlight the importance of employee-generated content.
Any content that’s created and distributed by your workforce is employee-generated content, or EGC. And EGC is essential to building your employer brand, especially since only 12% of employees trust what companies say about themselves.
It boosts employee engagement, reduces marketing costs, increases credibility among consumers, and aids in social recruiting.
“Employee-generated content is a big part of the overall perception of a brand and can influence every area in which the brand does business,” Abercrombie says. “It gives people an idea of who the brand is, what they care about, and how they choose to conduct their business — all through the lens of their employees. [Companies] that choose not to embrace online employee content are at risk of being left behind or missing out on opportunities.”
Half of employees are already posting about their company online, but you can encourage more of them to talk about your company by educating them about EGC.
Explain what EGC is and highlight how it benefits not only the organization, but also employees themselves because sharing online will help them develop a personal brand and expand their networks.
Employees in marketing and communications may already be aware of the power of EGC, according to Clayton, but she says it’s important to educate the organization as a whole. To do this successfully, the employer needs to appeal to workers both rationally and emotionally.
“Employees are very easily logically convinced that [sharing content about the company] is something they should be doing,” Clayton says. “What has to follow is the emotional desire to do it.
People can push out content, but unless they’ve had some kind of emotional connection to the brand or a positive experience that really has touched them, that content is not going to have an impact. This kind of education requires a combination of rationally showing the business case and telling those stories that actually touch people’s hearts, that make them proud of the company and want to get out there and talk about it.”
Of course, telling your employees about the importance of their content is only the beginning. You also need an employee advocacy program and social media rules for employees that’ll give them the encouragement and guidance they need to share their thoughts about the company with the world.
4. Identify and involve your biggest advocates.
As we’ve established, many of your employees are already talking about your company online. They’re tweeting about it, posting about it on Instagram, writing Glasdoor reviews, and more.
So identify your biggest fans who are already advocating for you via social listening, interviews, or surveys. Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and invite them to help you launch or improve your employee advocacy efforts.
“Let’s say there’s a company that has an employee who doesn’t have a senior title, but he’s been with the company for 25 years and knows everybody and is really well connected in the community and has more influence over employee opinion than the CEO,” Clayton says.
“And you do find things like that. So if you can isolate those people, then what you do is you go to them first and you make them your external advocates. These people typically have a lot of followers at the company and beyond, and if you start with them, you get everybody else on board because you’ve already got the trendsetters.”
5. Incentivize employees to share.
You already have employee advocates who are eager to share content about the organization. And many workers may be persuaded to get involved in your employee advocacy program because they want to grow their own network and personal brand.
However, there’s another effective way to encourage employees to post about the organization: gamification.
People love games, and gamification is a great way for employees to follow their progress and engage more with company content.
That’s why EveryoneSocial has leaderboard and gamification tools that rewards not only individual employees, but also the entire team.
Check out these gamification strategy tips to take your employee advocacy efforts to the next level.
Showcase Your Employee-Obsessed Company
Countless companies tout their customer-first approach to business, but how many can say they put their employees first?
“There are plenty of customer-obsessed organizations, but less employee-obsessed organizations,” Clayton says.
To truly build a reputation as a top employer and win at social recruiting, your company needs to invest in its workers’ happiness as much as it does its customers.
Taking the steps outlined above is a great way to get started in strengthening your employer brand. But you also need to give your employees the tools to advocate on your company’s behalf.
And to do that, you need an employee advocacy platform like EveryoneSocial.