As we emerge from this pandemic, we’re all growing more concerned about the reputations of employers. How did they treat their staff during this challenging time? What were their main priorities, people or profit? Will they ever be able to recover from mistakes made during the coronavirus crisis? All of these questions, and more, are playing on our minds as we prepare to enter the new normal.
Employer branding is becoming even more of a hot topic in the world of recruitment. How a brand is perceived internally and externally could have implications on their future recruitment efforts but also the future of their business. It’s becoming more and more apparent that your employer brand can affect your consumer brand.
In the age of social media, employees have more of a voice than ever, and employer brands are subsequently merging with consumer brands. Consumer behaviour is being influenced by stories of how employers treat staff. Take Weatherspoon’s pubs, for example, the chain’s founder Tim Martin refused to pay staff once his pubs closed suggesting they get jobs at Tesco before the UK Government’s furlough scheme came in to play. It was also reported that the chain was refusing to pay suppliers which would damage small enterprises. The outrage that this caused led to calls for a national boycott of Weatherspoon’s pubs from consumers. The negative impact on their employer brand had direct implications on their consumer brand, and even today, many are vowing never to enter one of the establishments again.
Your brand encapsulates your entire organisation, and everyone within it. Every individual is contributing to your brand mission along with every product you sell or advertising campaign you release. Therefore, it’s no surprise that your employer brand and consumer brand are becoming more and more intrinsically linked. If your employer brand and consumer brand don’t match, then the whole organisation will jar. Your EVP should encapsulate how you want to be seen as an employer but also how you genuinely are perceived; in fact, experts say that it should be 80% reality and 20% aspirational.
So how can you ensure that emerging from this crisis, your employer brand matches the consumer brand and your reputation upholds?
Here are five vital things you should consider:
It’s easy for brands to get so bogged down in various mission statements and core values that they want to portray, eventually, they end up with mixed messages that confuse everyone. When it comes to your employer brand, your key objectives and values should be clear, concise and easy for everyone internally and externally to understand. To ensure that a brand stands for something, and its stance is well-known, you have to keep distilling the messaging until it sticks, and this rule applies for your employer brand too. Continue relaying the message in different formats until you’re known as the employer that is innovative or caring or flexible. This could be using social media, email, employee testimonials or even through content on your careers site.
Your messaging and brand values are the glue that holds your company together. Similarly, your employer brand holds your employees together. With so many different forms of communication now available to us, it’s more vital than ever to have a clear and concise underlining brand purpose to hold it all together. Aligning your employer brand to your overall brand purpose should not be difficult; the two should be incredibly similar as your company and employees are one and the same.
Your brand should be built from the inside out. Hiring people that are passionate and who hold similar values to you can help to inform your core purpose, leading to more significant innovation, business growth and stronger customer relationships. However, hiring passionate people also helps to strengthen your employee value proposition and employer brand. Enthusiastic employees attract equally excited candidates. Utilise this passion when promoting your employer brand, and get your people involved.
Similarly, if your people don’t understand what your brand stands for, it won’t shine through. Great employers need to educate their people on the fundamental values of the business and what it is they’re trying to achieve. Uniting the internal audience allows individuals to work towards the same goal despite different motivations and roles in a business. To create a strong employer brand, you must be able to align all employees and show you’re working towards the same goal. Excite employees with your mission, and you’ll find they’re more motivated, enthusiastic and feel more positive about the job they’re doing. It helps if employees can see the difference they’re making or impact their work has, no matter how small; so, make it essential to keep them in the loop going forward.
Just like your business, the workplace should be about an experience. A brand experience is vital to connect with customers, so much so it’s reported that brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors and 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties.
In the same way, as consumer brands work, a job is no longer just a job. It’s no longer enough for employees to come in at 9 am and leave at 5 pm, but the things that happen in between that make the difference. To create a great company culture, you must stage a sequence of experiences, perfectly designed to encapsulate who you are as an employer. From the communal spaces to relationships with management; everything contributes to your employer brand. There should be consistency with the image you wish to portray to the world (at both a consumer and employer level) and what your employees experience if you hope to have a stronger employer brand going forward. It’s no use advertising an aspirational and ideal employee experience if when a candidate gets to your office, their reality is the opposite. Or likewise, if you have a stylish product which appeals to a high-end market, employees will expect the same five-star treatment.
Do Your Research
For your employer brand to be more relevant to your target candidates, you need to do a deep dive into their motivations. All brands start with research into consumer insight; your employer brand should be no different. You’d never market a product without looking into your customer base and competitors, so why would marketing yourself as an employer be any different?
Conducting in-depth market research can help you to gain valuable insights from your existing employees and acquire an understanding of external perceptions – which may be influenced by your consumer brand. These insights will help to inform your EVP, which forms the basis of your employer brand. Through research, you can learn what employees like about you, why they wanted to join and most importantly why they want to stay. Focus groups will allow you to talk to employees directly but can also be arranged to enable you to speak to external candidates if you’d like a more rounded picture. With tried and tested techniques like surveys, diaries and group discussions, you can learn first-hand what life is like as an employee of your business; the results could surprise you. However, by using creative research methods to complement direct questions, you can gain a more accurate insight into their feelings with less chance of bias and less control over answers.
With a greater understanding of the motivations and experiences of your employees, you’ll be able to identify their emotional drivers. If you truly want to hire passionate people, you need to connect with them on a deeper, emotional level rather than just offering them a job and salary. Your EVP is underpinned by the emotional connection between employer and employee. It’s no secret that emotional factors sell products or services, and so the same should stand with your employer brand.
Think about the emotional factors that are used to sell your business; it could be that if you want to attract passionate people, some of these driving factors will be the same. They’ve had similar issues and want to help, or maybe they simply love how your product or service makes them feel. Like the age-old marketing technique, the main components of your EVP should bring the intangible aspects of your business to life as well as the tangible things like benefits. It may be that employees want to take more pride in what they do, that they need to balance work with home life and need a more flexible approach to work or even that they share the same personal values and goals as your business.
Putting as much effort into your employer brand as your consumer brand, as well as ensuring consistencies between the two will elevate your business in a post-pandemic world. As you incorporate new attitudes into your business model, this should be mirrored in your EVP. The experience of your business and motivations should be clear to consumers and employees if you wish to enhance your employer brand going forward. Remember, there’s nowhere to hide in a world of social media so ensure expectations meet reality.
If you need any advice on forming or promoting your employer brand as well as developing your employee value proposition, our experts are ready to help. With a multitude of experience crafting and leveraging employer brands in tech, healthcare and a variety of other industries, we can support with gaining insight, digital attraction strategies and even internal communications to strengthen your employer brand image.