Quick — tell me your organization’s story.
If you can’t do that then you’ve got a problem, says Tiffany Sauder, founder and president of marketing agency Element Three. In today’s candidate-driven employment market, employer branding is more important than ever, and businesses that can’t tell their story in an authentic, meaningful way run the risk of losing out on great candidates. Sauder joined us to talk all things employer branding, including do’s and don’ts to consider when crafting your employer brand.
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Trends in Employer Branding
As every HR professional knows, we’re in an unusual time for labor. There are more jobs available than there are workers, and this has had a ripple effect on employer brands. The focus is no longer just on attracting external candidates, Sauder says. Clients are focusing on building their internal branding so they can better engage their employees.
However, Sauder says this trend goes beyond the current labor market, because it also comes from generational change in the workplace. “The millennial generation is asking different things of us as companies,” she says. This means organizations need to think harder about expressing their values and culture. “HR teams, talent teams and culture teams are beginning to say ‘We have to take what has been historically very intuitive about who we are as a company and turn that into something that we can say very explicitly,’ ” she says.
How to Begin Thinking About Your Employer Brand
So it’s time to build your own employer brand. Where should you start?
Sauder says HR needs to start by acting like a sales team. Just as a sales team thinks about the sales life cycle from start to finish, HR must consider the employee life cycle in the same way. “Think through the funnel of talent, all the way from ‘they’re just aware of my brand’ to ‘they’re leaving,’ and I’m thinking about alumni relations,” she says.
Once you’ve audited your employee life cycle, consider where the most pain points are. Perhaps you need to improve onboarding, or do a better job with employee development. But remember that there are no quick fixes. Sauder estimates that it takes about three years to craft the components of an effective employer brand, but says the payoff is worth it. “If you do it well, each one of those will be institutional to the whole experience.”
Some Don’ts of Employer Branding
With employer branding becoming more important, an obvious question looms: What are the potholes you need to steer clear of when creating your employer brand?
Sauder’s biggest tip boils down to one factor: authenticity. Don’t just try to imitate other brands you like. Take ownership of what makes you great and unique, and be honest with yourself about your organization’s weaknesses. This is particularly important as organizations become increasingly transparent and social media brings a global spotlight. “All of us as businesses live in glass houses, especially because of the different review sites and the social connectedness of our employee population now,” she says.
So embrace what makes your organization unique, even if it’s something a bit off the beaten path. “I think those brave enough to really embrace the quirkiness of their leadership team, the quirkiness of their culture, and sort of be super-authentic are going to be the ones that win the race,” Sauder says.