A thoughtful branding strategy can positively impact company culture and increase business growth.
The housing market is either a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. In the corporate world, it’s always been the employer’s market. Until now.
The Great Resignation has been a topic of conversation since the pandemic turned the corporate world upside down, and now, employees are able to clearly navigate past the companies that do not promote company culture and value employee happiness. An employer brand can be a great asset to its hiring and retention strategy, as well as business success. However, the way a company presents itself to the world may communicate a sole focus on their own bottom line. People are exiting these companies in the masses.
A big PR moment for some companies, such as Spotify, Twitter, and Hubspot, was when they took the opportunity to brand themselves as progressive and eager to support their employees by announcing a switch to 100% remote work. Twitter was one of the first tech companies to switch to permanent remote work while still offering office spaces in 11 major cities across the US to employees interested in a hybrid model.
On the latter end, the companies that have turned back to a strict in-person schedule and minimal employee flexibility have branded themselves as traditional. For example, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is making a second attempt to return to the traditional 9-5 office schedule. The first time Goldman Sachs reinforced back-to-work schedules was in February 2022, only half of the employees actually showed up. The CEO of Goldman Sachs has been very public about his distaste of remote work and has sent a clear message that employees should not expect to conform to this “new normal.” This movement is visible and scrutinized in the public eye, and these simple acts do send a certain message to potential or current employees.
Corporate employment and mental health
During the Summer of 2021, a McKinsey survey reported that 44% of people expected that returning to the workplace would have a negative impact on their mental health. More than one-third of those who have already returned to in-person work reported it worsened their mental health. With the commonality of mental health as a topic of conversation at work, companies that are providing mental health support to their employees are positively branding themselves as empathetic to their employees. For example, Barclays offers mental health leaves of absence, and Microsoft offers in-person, digital, and telephone counseling to employees, as well as support groups and workshops.
By creating a positive company culture and thoughtful employee branding, businesses can save themselves from expensive hiring and training costs and instead focus that funding on creating a culture that encourages and empowers employees to stay, grow, and even sell for you.
The foundation of employer branding
Branding is the foundation of a company, incorporating the brand story, mission, and values that drive company culture. In order to create a successful employer brand, internal and external messaging must align with the brand and connect with the company culture. For example, a company that promotes diversity and inclusion as its company values must have a diverse leadership team and publicly respond to events that impact society. If the branding and the actions of the company do not match, insiders and outsiders will take notice.
Although this strategy is the reverse of what corporations have been doing for many years, which was creating messaging and branding solely for sales purposes, the results are already showing that it works.
Hiring and retaining top talent
The 2022 Employment Branding Report by WilsonHCG found that diversity is a major cultural focus that jobseekers are scrutinizing when applying to a company. In fact, one in three employees and jobseekers (32%) would not apply for a job at companies where there is a lack of diversity among their workforces. Additionally, 62% of job seekers said they would be more likely to apply for a role if a company is openly committed to improving diversity and inclusion within its workforce. The report showed that the talent brands that stand out are those that are authentic in their approach to storytelling, emphasize diversity and embrace self-expression.
Carmen Scanlon, VP of Client Solutions at WilsonHCG, shared her input on the future of employment branding and talent strategy, “The fundamental components of employment brand haven’t changed, but people’s expectations in the workplace have. To attract and retain top talent, it’s critical to understand what those expectations are. Employee experience has changed so much over the past couple of years and organizations must modernize their employment brands to ensure they align with the new employee experience.”
One of the most successful recruitment strategies stems from current team members who are excited and proud to work for the company they are at. Through their personal conversations with friends and what they choose to share on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, current employees can organically create a pipeline of talented candidates they can refer to work with them. When a role opens up, instead of spending time and money advertising vacant roles, internal referrals can be prioritized. According to Glassdoor, 75% of active job seekers are likely to apply to a position if the employer actively manages its brand. When an offer is made, a positive employer brand is a convincing reason for candidates to accept the role — sometimes, even more important than salary.
Indirectly, creating a strong employer brand can also attract new and loyal customers. People are looking for companies they trust, and whether it’s a B2C or a B2B audience, there are humans on both ends of the conversation. If a company ignores their brand, is silent on social media, uses the original company website from 2005, and doesn’t utilize up-to-date HR practices, their branding is going to send the message that they don’t care about their customers either. If clients are constantly being turned over to new team members, they will start to sense that the organizational culture is not running smoothly. There are multiple factors that impact the internal and external branding of a company.
Tips for creating a strong employer brand
First, company leadership must reflect on the last time they refreshed their company branding. If it was circa 2010, it might be time for a facelift. By consistently updating the brand, including logo enhancements, potential name/nickname updates, website refreshes, and creating social media and blog content that is up to date and on-trend, it shows employees that the company does care about what it sees in the mirror.
Once the foundation is set, the company could invite a consultant to walk them through a brand mission and value workshop. It’s recommended that all employees have the opportunity to participate, even anonymously through a survey, to provide their feedback on the culture, the brand, and how they see it growing in the future. By working with a non-biased consultant, versus an employee of the company, actionable tangible values that are useful to the business and marketing strategy can be determined.