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Employer Branding strategy finally explained (+ EXAMPLES + SET OF TOOLS)

This article is not another text about an abstract topic that has nothing to do with your business. This text concerns a problem, that according to 89% of the companies classified as World’s Most Attractive Employers (WMAE) should have the highest priority in the activities of every organization focused on development.

It’s about employer branding – activities being a key to:

  • recruitment cost reduction by even o 60% (source);
  • speed-up of the recruitment process from appeox. 90 to 30 days (or even less!) (source);
  • reduction of the FAILED recruitment rate by even 80% (source);
  • and – as a consequence – better morale and effectivity of your current team.

Do you think, we exaggerate? Before you click the “X” in your browser, answer honestly some very simple questions:

  • In the last 3 years, did you HAVE TO hire someone who didn’t meet your requirements, leading to lower quality of your company’s services and negatively influencing other employees’ morale?
  • Do you know the time, energy and money consumption generated by recruitment processes that drag on and don’t bring any results?
  • Have you ever jealously look at another companies growing as mad (“Where do all their experts come from?”)?
  • Couldn’t you understand why all the candidates you offered a job, get hired by other companies (although you offer the same or even better employment conditions)? 

Still here? That’s good! We have an important topic to discuss. And a lot of things to work on. Let’s get it started!

BEFORE YOU MOVE ON, download the free tool created by Project: People for the needs of this article!

This is Employer Value Proposition Canvas. You’ll fill it in while reading this article!



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    Employer Branding – what is it?

    To explain it in a nutshell and very simplified – employer branding are all activities done with the purpose to show just one thing to your current and potential employees: Your company is the workplace they have been dreaming about. 

    These activities are often similar to “traditional” marketing, there’s only one difference – they’re oriented towards a completely different group of people. If you promote your services, you communicate with your customers and your interactions concern the products you sell. 

    differences between branding and employer branding

    In case of employer branding, what you “sell” is your company.

    And the same as in the “traditional” marketing – it’s not only about the way you communicate your strengths but… what is really hidden behind them. In the further part of the text you’ll find out what you have to keep in mind, how to optimally distribute the efforts to increase your attractiveness in the labor market and what you have to focus on primarily. Therefore, among others, we’re going to talk about:

    • organizational values and culture (and everything behind these terms);
    • localization and company spaces (both physical and virtual);
    • material aspects regarding the cooperation with your company;
    • career development path;
    • management style;
    • team quality and ambitions;
    • work quality;
    • employees’ acknowledgement;
    • work-life balance – the relationship between work and free time;
    • health services, such as dental insurance;
    • additional benefits at the workplace, such as lunch, onsite child care, flexible working times etc.;
    • financial benefits beyond the salary, such as loans for commuters, awards, housing benefits;
    • possibility of business trips;
    • possibility of doing some additional community services;
    • health and safety at work (also the psychical one).

    Find out more about the employer branding strategy creation process in practice. Read the case study Employer branding for a software house – what does a candidate want to know about your company?

    Employer branding – why is it worth it?

    Let’s summarize the most important information:

    • While making a decision where to apply for a job, 84% of job seekers claim that the reputation of the company as an employer is very important (source).
    • 9 of 10 candidate would apply for a job with more commitment, if it were about a job in a place where the employer branding is actively and consciously managed (source).
    • 50% of the candidates claim, they would work for a company with bad reputation – even for more money (source).

    In the face of such data, can you allow yourself not to invest in employer branding?

    Who should be involved in the creation and realization of the employer branding strategy in your company?

    • People in the HR department. 

    They are strictly related to looking for candidates, employing, engaging the employees and keeping them on board. Generally, HR and recruitment groups will have more daily interactions and will be the “face” of the initiative.

    • C-level.

    Although general managers tend to be very busy, they are also necessary to ensure the success of the company culture and employer branding. Searching for talents changed over the years, and since it can be more strategic, the company leader should be engaged in the communication.

    • Marketing.

    As you will learn in the further part, employer branding requires support from the marketing team. They will help to deliver the resources to the HR and recruitment departments and to distribute the internal culture. This process is usually called “recruitment marketing”.

    • Brand advocates. 

    These are (usually) employees or brand fans who share the company content and already make some positive statements about your company. This can be a perfect way to strengthen the recruitment content and enhance the company’s reputation and the working culture, in order to attract more talents.

    Employer Branding – examples

    As there is no “normal” marketing tactic that will work for everybody, there are no employer branding activities that will work in every case. However, there are some basic elements recommended to analyze at the beginning.

    Organizational culture

    Organizational culture is the “spirit” of the company – something that makes people feel good there and fulfill themselves in its structures. The culture comprises a lot of elements. Some of them are “tangible”, some of them are the resultant of indefinable statements, behavior, customs and situations that are hard to codify.

    However, it is always worth to work on the culture – it guarantees our identity and makes the people from outside be willing to become the part of our team.

    Example:

    Our company – the Project:People agency – is an organization based on values that accompany us every day, constituting an inseparable part of our culture. Making difficult decisions, we reach to the values. During the corporate retreats, awards are given to people who are indicated by the team as an embodiment of some particular values. And we communicate it all outwards bravely, we’re proud of it, we boast about it on all occasions. 

    rules of employer branding

    That’s why we know that every new team member identifies with our values and – what happens more and more often – wants to join us just because of them. Those people don’t even wait for any open positions: they write to us as if we were their found and “long-time-no-see” family.

    How can you implement it your company?

    Before you start consciously working on the organizational culture, it’s good to check how it is currently perceived in your organization. Call your co-workers together or make a survey among them and find out which advantages and disadvantages of their daily work they can see.

    Exemplary questions to use in the survey and/or direct conversations with the members of your team (of course if they trust you so much that they can be completely honest with you):

    • What do you value in the work here?
    • What should be improved in your opinion?
    • What would you tell your friend about the work in our structures?

    Here it’s good to think how you – as a manager or an HR employee – influence the daily organizational culture (but be honest!).

    Mission and vision

    Would you board a ship if you didn’t know its destination? Probably not. So it’s hard to expect from your potential employees to board your company if it’s drifting without any distinct destination and nobody knows which harbor it’s going to call.

    Mission and vision – although they’re disregarded by many of us – if they were worked out together with the team and really influence the daily company life, they’re one of the most important factors forming the employees’ sense of security and their professional identity. This will translate into team members’ satisfaction, fulfillment and sense of duty. And of course into the willingness to join your team.

    Examples:

    We compiled for you famous companies’ visions and missions. Observe how the following declarations influence you: do they inspire, motivate, show the direction?

    • Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
    • Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.
    • Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
    • Shopify: Make commerce better for everyone, so businesses can focus on what they do best: building and selling their products.
    • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
    • IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
    • TED: Spread ideas.
    • Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
    • Southwest Airlines: To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.
    • Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
    • Asos: Become the world’s number-one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings.
    • Loreal: To provide the best in cosmetics innovation to women and men around the world with respect for their diversity.
    • Bulletproof: Help people perform better, think faster, and live better.
    • Honest Tea: Create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
    • Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
    • Passionfruit: Create inclusive clothing and accessories that enable you to show your pride all year round while giving back to our community.

    How can you implement it in your company?

    Arrange a strategic workshop with your team and together work out your own mission and vision that will touch the hearts of all the team members! If you don’t know how to do it, get in touch with us, we’re sure we can help.

    Employment conditions (salary and benefits)

    Money is important – we must admit it. At the end of the day, it’s hard to think creatively if you’re hungry, worry about unpaid bills and have a toothache (if somebody can’t afford a good dental treatment).

    But is money more important than the rest of the factors? Not really. Well done employer branding will give you an access to the leading experts from the branches of your interest, even if the rates you offer are lower as your competitors’ rates. In addition, thanks to this, you have a chance to find more committed and loyal people.

    So let’s treat money as the path and not the destination itself. Let’s offer our employees fair money according to the current market situation and correspondingly to their engagement. But don’t buy them only with financial advantages – this strategy is the shortest way to build a team of “paid soldiers” interested only in the amount of money transferred to their account.

    Example:

    There are a lot of companies in the IT market who offer a lot to their employees, so that the expectations are very high in the IT branch. And this makes us hard to get through the great number of companies and build a recognizable brand if our UVP or EVP is neither really characteristic nor recognizable.

    The brands solve this in many ways. Some brands choose those most controversial methods, such as advertisement. A parade example that conquered Cracow w few years ago, was Robert Gryn and his ad with a recommendation not to be a corporations’ slave and join his company. 

    There were also companies who relied on very controversial ads. Directly in front of the corporations’ offices they put banners with texts like: “Here you don’t feel good, you can’t work, come join us”. That’s what the company Base CRM did – as there were some job cuts in various corporations, they hung their own billboards with recruitment ads in front of their offices. It is a kind of method to attract their attention, attract a very specific programmers’ personality – they like being appreciated, they need to feel someone cares about them.


    Some teams try to manage the employees’ life. They want to bring to the workplace a possibly high number of benefits typical for home: they allow to wear slippers to create a nice atmosphere, they arrange a gaming room, chill out zone, nap room. These are kind of value proposals. But does it actually attract employees in any way?Beata Mosór Szyszka, co-founder & strategist (Project: People Podcast, part 9)

    Employer Branding – who is it for?

    Employer branding is getting more and more popular in sectors where it’s harder and harder to get a valuable employee. The IT sector is obviously taking the lead in this ranking – it’s struggling with more and more severe problems while recruiting experienced specialists.

    Exponentially increasing salaries, the arms race in the form of benefits… this forces the employers to look for some ways to attract the candidates. It’s impossible to raise the salaries to all eternity, and the offered additional pays can’t rise without end.

    If we talk about additional values created by the employer branding, we don’t mean “fruity Tuesdays” or other benefits. What we mean is the trust to the team, granting responsibility, investing in the team’s development, technological development, team education.

    Beata Mosór-Szyszka (Project: People Podcast, part 9)

    Employer branding strategy step by step

    Effective employer branding activities should be set into the right context: we must know what to communicate, who is the target group of given communicated and… what we want to achieve doing it. This statement leads us to a following action plan:

    1. Carry out an employer brand audit

    If you’re able to define your company’s unique attributes, it’s easier to develop the EVP. Learn the basic activities, vision, mission, values and culture of your organization. Understand your company’s goals and figure out what kind of talents are needed to achieve them.

    Use the ready-made questions and methods to “look at your companies with the potential employee’s eyes” we presented in the section with examples. Be brutally honest doing it and don’t forget to write down the current state at the current moment.

    We strongly recommend getting information from beyond your current team – the most valuable data is to get “on the field”, while talking with potential members of your team. But the best is to talk with your former employees (people who left your team).

    Then, fill in every section of the Employer Value Proposition Canvas:

    • Benefits (which material and non-material values are connected with the work in your organization);
    • Career (which professional possibilities are offered by your organization);
    • Culture (place here all the aspects regarding organizational culture that correspond to your company);
    • Work Environment (here focus on the work environment you offer);
    • Compensation (assess all the aspects regarding the remuneration);

    You can do it on a paper sheet or use the Miro tool. See below what an exemplary Employer Value Proposition can look like at this stage of strategy building.

    1. Create a personage of an “ideal candidate”

    At this stage, let’s use Persona Canvas that you can download from our Lean Library after you subscribe the Project: People newsletter.

    Fill the form with all the information you need… but don’t limit yourself to this.

    • Begin with writing down all the “hard” expectations and requirements every person in the specific position has to fulfil (years of experience, kind of experience, certificates, mastered technologies, other abilities);
    • Then come to the soft skills – define the desired character attributes, temper, disposition, interests;
    • Think about the motivation of a person who matches your dream candidate’s profile. What drives them? What are the motivating and demotivating factors for them? Write down your observations!
    • Think about the channels you can use to get to such people in the most effective way. What is the language you should use to communicate with them? Which arguments are to use?

    Are you wondering how you can get all this information? It’s easy: make a research!

    During the project “Employer branding strategy for a Polish subsidiary of an American technological company” (read more about it here) we made some in-depth interviews with current, former and potential team members. The devoted time gave us more than just answers to the above-mentioned questions, it let us determine:

    • what the recruiting process looks like and how it’s rated, 
    • how the candidates perceive the company,
    • where the candidates know the brand from,
    • what the company’s strengths are,
    • what is to improve,
    • what the market position of the brand is,
    • what the employer’s distinguishing features and decisive factors are.

    Soon you’ll learn that this will be priceless also at the further stages of the employer branding strategy creation.

    1. Make your company REALLY meet the needs of the people you want to hire

    Now please come back to your notes from the first stage and think about each of the elements you wrote down there – try to figure out what your dream candidate could expect here.

    Example: maybe you offer a highly modern office with thousands of chill rooms, but your dream candidate wants to work remotely?

    Or maybe you spend a great fortune on non-monetary benefits, but your dream candidate prefers just to get a higher salary every month?

    Please keep in mind that the creation process of an employer branding strategy can take quite a lot of time. Maybe you don’t know everything at this stage. Maybe your notecards contain only unverified hypotheses – and it’s OK as well!

    Just confess what you don’t know and think, how you can carry out the experiment that will give you the answers to your questions.

    1. Start the recruitment marketing activities.

    At this moment we have determined the current situation and we know what we’re striving for. So, time for the action plan!

    Come back to your Employer Value Proposition Canvas find the element that have to be changed. For example: you notice that the values don’t really play an important role in the daily business of your company and according to the conversations you made with your employees you know it has to be changed.

    This task sounds like an enormous project – that’s why it’s good to divide it into smaller and simpler elements.

    Don’t you know how to start with it? Ask additional people from your team for help orn contact us  we’ll be pleased to help you!

    Remember to take your time and remain authentic in every act – no matter what the base of your employer branding will be, authenticity is the pillar of every successful strategy that supports the recruitment.

    Employer Value Proposition

    If you got so far – congratulations! You did a great deal of work. Time to finish it and find words for everything that emerged in your head during the former stages of your work on the employer branding strategy.

    Time to fill on your Employer Value Proposition Canvas!

    This time, instead of writing how to do it, we show you some examples. Here you will see that there’s no single, universal method to create a valuable, inspiring Employer Value Proposition. It’s important that:

    • the value proposition is authentic and should be a promise you are willing and able to keep towards the members of your team;
    • it should sound coherently with the brand image;
    • it drives and motivated your employees and harmonizes with the broader business strategy of the whole brand;

    Ready for a dose of inspiration?

    They’re doing it well!

    • Canva

    Sometimes the chance comes up to be part of something really special. Canva is making design amazingly simple for everyone, and the potential is limitless. We’re empowering people to design anything, and publish anywhere.

    Why is it so good? The proposal Canva makes to every employee is based on the value of the product they offer. So the inflow of people is secured who believe in their daily work and prioritize the development of the platform.

    • Goldman Sach’s

    At Goldman Sachs, you will make an impact.

    Why is it so good? Short and snappy, appealing to one of the basic needs of the employees: feeling of influence and causativity. In this sentence the deep knowledge of the employees, their expectations and frustrations is hidden.

    • Google

    Do cool things that matter.

    Why is it so good? Similar to the previous case: short and snappy. In this slogan the main message is the promise that the work of every new team member will make sense. Nice change from the daily life in a lot of corporation, isn’t it?

    • Hubspot

    We’re building a company people love. A company that will stand the test of time, so we invest in our people and optimize for your long-term happiness.

    Why is it so good? Such a brave manifesto ideally harmonizes with Hubspot’s brave business strategy, their extraordinary solutions and ruthless race to continuous increase in the number of content clients.

    • Shopify

    We’re Shopify. Our mission is to make commerce better for everyone – but we’re not the workplace for everyone. We thrive on change, operate on trust, and leverage the diverse perspectives of people on our team in everything we do. We solve problems at a rapid pace. In short, we get shit done.

    Why is it so good? Direct language is the language Shopify’s employees use every day. The arguments used in the narration are almost taken out of the daily conversation in the corridors at Shopify. Authentically and straight to the target.

    Summary

    We live in the world where not only the companies look for valuable people. Now the people are looking for valuable companies. Can you say this about your company with a clear conscience?

    We hope you can. And we’re more than sure that it will be so if you do the above-proposed exercises and implement everything you created here together with us.

    If we could summarize why it’s so important to focus on employer branding, we would say it’s about… creating a choice. The employer’s brand gives you more possibilities to apply, lets you spend less money on job advertisements and helps you strengthen your company’s brand.

    These are activities with an absolutely doubtless return on investment.

    You save your money and time hiring people. Your candidate’s quality increases. Your employees are more dedicated to your company, because they love the place where they work. So why should you hesitate, instead of starting the improvement of your employer brand?

    Or maybe you think you know too little? Then please come back to us – we’ll be pleased to help you!

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