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Identifying And Enhancing Your Employer Brand originally appeared on Forbes.com.
When most people see a brand, they know exactly what to expect from its products or services. Generally, this is a good thing. Think of any well-known brand, and you know that people go to them confident that the brand will deliver on its promise.
Conversely, when people have a negative impression of a brand, the organization in question is usually in trouble. It will likely need to undertake serious and costly efforts to rectify the situation or face disastrous financial results — even complete failure.
The same principle applies to your employer brand. This is the distinct impression that job applicants and employees have of your organization as a place to work. An employer brand reflects your reputation, popularity, visibility and viability in the employment marketplace.
Why It Matters
An employer brand may not get as much attention as the more widely known definition of “brand,” but it’s critical to every organization’s success.
A 2015 study by HR tech company CareerArc found that “75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.” (That percentage is likely even higher today.) And a 2011 report by LinkedIn found that organizations with a strong employer brand enjoyed a 28% reduction in turnover. In short, a robust and positive employer brand will:
Having more job candidates to sort through may sound like more work, but it generally shortens (and improves) the hiring process because a larger number of applicants increases the odds that you’ll find a strong fit.
The benefits of employee retention are well-known: Tenured workers build valuable knowledge over time and tend to be more committed to an organization’s success. Best of all, they enable you to avoid the expense of constantly having to rehire for certain positions.
Size And Shape
If you ever want to put an organizational leader on the spot, ask them the following question: “So, what’s your employer brand?” It’s not exactly the easiest question to answer given the many contributing factors involved. Nonetheless, every organization’s leadership should be able to identify its employer brand so the strengths of that brand can be enhanced and weaknesses minimized.
Putting a size and shape to your employer brand will entail a multifaceted approach. A good place to start is with one or more executive- or management-level meetings to discuss the concept and get everyone’s impression of what your employer brand looks like.
When managers of various departments or units interview job applicants, what sorts of things do they hear? Do candidates seem genuinely excited about the prospect of working in your organization? Or are they unsure or even misguided regarding what you’re all about?
Another excellent source of understanding your employer brand is your employees. There are a couple of ways we recommend harnessing this data. First, you could conduct a formal survey of your workforce, asking them to rate your organization in areas such as clarity of mission, ease of hiring process and state of your workplace culture.
You could also ask questions such as:
You might be surprised by some of the answers you receive; employees may not share the same perceptions of the organization’s objectives and culture as leadership does. Your ultimate goal, of course, is to get everyone on the same page regarding your brand so you can ensure consistent messaging with everyone outside the organization and within.
An additional source may be exit interviews. Sometimes people are more honest and open when they know they’re about to walk out the door.
The Puzzle Of The Employee Value Proposition
Once you’ve gathered a substantial amount of information about your employer brand, you can initiate efforts to enhance that brand. Generally, when organizations undertake this task, they’ll want to confront the sometimes imposing and wide-ranging concept of the employee value proposition (EVP).
In a nutshell, EVP is the total value that you offer employees in return for their time and effort. You may think that quantifying EVP is as simple as the sum of compensation plus benefits. However, today’s EVP calculations generally involve four components:
The first two points are relatively self-explanatory. The third one, career-building, describes all the ways you enable employees to not only earn a paycheck but also fulfill their professional ambitions. This typically includes a sound approach to performance management that allows them to advance upward in the organization, as well as ongoing training, upskilling, and perhaps even a fringe benefit helping them pay for college or continuing education classes.
The fourth point, culture, is what you offer in terms of a safe, inclusive and motivating working environment. This includes a clear mission, strong values, a supportive atmosphere on-site or in virtual interactions, and a productive approach to teamwork.
Original post by Lynda Silsbee
Founder of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration and Member of the Forbes Coaches Council
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.