5 ways to build an employer brand

5 ways to build your employer brand

An internal brand is just as important to the success of a business as an external one. Here are five ways to build your employer brand to harness the power of your workforce.

CIM North has partnered with CIPD to run a series of events that bring together marketing and HR practitioners to tackle key business issues. Yesterday, I attended a session about how to build an employer brand and it gave me lots to think about.

We all identify our internal stakeholders – employees, board members, trustees – on our stakeholder maps but do we give them the same attention as our external publics when developing our brands? Probably not.

Employees are the core of any business. Not only do they deliver your services but they are the embodiment of your values and can be the difference between success and failure.

So, how can you build your employer brand so you can attract the right staff and retain the ones that will drive your business forward? Here are five places to start.

1. Get your values right

Your purpose, vision and mission need to be clear and focused. Employees (potential, existing and past) need to know what you’re all about and why they do their job.

Simon Sinek has articulated this better than I can through his Golden Circle analogy. As in the diagram below, your ‘why’ (your purpose) needs to be at the centre of your values. How you deliver and what you do comes afterwards.

Simon Sinek - Golden Circle

Get your internal values right – making sure everyone in your business understands and can articulate them – and you have the foundations of a strong employer brand.

Check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk for more inspiration on values.

2. Get your senior people on board

Your senior leaders need to be able to articulate and live by your values. Leading by example is absolutely key to ensuring your values are the thread that runs throughout your business.

If the principles you ask your workforce to follow don’t apply to your most senior employees, they won’t work.

This can often be a really tricky space to navigate but is where a strong partnership between HR and marketing can pay off. Get your HR team to define the behaviours you expect from colleagues and have them laid out in a code of conduct. These must apply to your entire workforce – from the very top to the lowest-paid position in your business. Clear criteria enable you to challenge and manage bad behaviours, protecting your brand from actions that don’t live up to your core values.

3. Segment your employees

Just like your external publics, your internal audience will include a variety of people and attitudes.

Use the four employee behaviour types – brand champion, agnostic, cynic and saboteur – to segment your workforce and identify ways to engage with each of them. Aim to convert your cynics to agnostics and manage your saboteurs closely to contain their negativity.

4. Use culture as a differentiator

A job for life is no longer a goal for most employees. Professionals now want a range of experiences and move much more frequently to access the opportunities for career development they crave.

In this kind of market, the culture of an organisation becomes a huge differentiator. Yes, salary, location and a benefits package are still the main drivers for taking a job but culture is the driver for choosing an employer.

You don’t have to fill your office with beanbags or have beer pong tournaments each lunchtime. We don’t all need (or want) to be Google. Think about how your values can be realised in your employee experience and bring them to life. From company-wide reward and recognition programmes to the way you communicate with colleagues on a day-to-day basis, creating a distinctive culture can be the differentiator that helps you attract the right people to your business and keep them there.

5. Don’t worry about leavers

People leaving the organisation can be a challenge – you lose skills, knowledge and experience, and have to recruit and train new team members. However, it can also be a huge opportunity; if you view your past employees as brand ambassadors, they soon become valuable tools in your employer branding arsenal.

An employees’ opinion of your company will have been formed throughout their time working for you. But, there is an opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression by creating a great leaving experience. Working with HR again, think about exit interviews, leaving presentations, branded gifts to take away and other activities that could fill the leavers’ notice period with happy thoughts about your brand. Talking about this experience when they leave spreads the word that you’re a good employer.

And, here’s a bonus tip for free…

6. Work with HR

The five actions above cannot be achieved or delivered by marketing alone. Working closely with your HR team to shape and manage the employee experience is the key to building an employer brand of choice.

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