employer brand: what’s being said about your organisation

An employer brand is not just what an organisation says about itself, it includes everything that is said about it. The ‘2018 Randstad Employer Brand Research’ highlights the importance of this fact. ‘What makes an organisation attractive?’ in chapter 2 gives a summary of the research findings.

The stories conveyed in traditional media have always had a strong influence on the perception of the employer brand. One poor news story about pay and conditions can damage the brand for many years to come.

Social media and job review sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn take this further by giving everybody a ‘voice’ in communicating about the brand. Glassdoor reports that 70% of people look at reviews before they make career decisions. While some of these platforms may in the past have served as a place to complain for dissatisfied employees and disappointed applicants, they are now powerful sources of information for potential candidates. 

Many leading organisations are taking active steps to monitor what is being said about them and join the social ‘conversation’. The growing influence of social media heightens the importance of authenticity in how an organisation portrays itself. With people able to comment and offer their own opinions, organisations can’t rely on marketing ‘gloss’ to convey their employer brand. Thinking positively, it’s an opportunity to convey the culture of your organisation, to talk about benefits of working for you and project your values. It’s therefore important to monitor social networks and seek to be part of the conversation.

As well as looking at what the organisation says about itself, people also seek out what existing and previous employees say about the culture and what customers think about the service they received. According to marketing magazine ‘The Drum’, 84% of people trust peer-to-peer recommendations over any other form of advertising. 

Beyond social media, there are many other conversations that will shape perceptions of your organisation. This might be what people are saying locally about which business is better to work for. In this case, the articulation of the employer brand might go beyond broad perceptions of the company as a whole to specific determinants such as the personality and approach of particular managers. 

Such word-of-mouth communication is also critical within the networks that exist across professions such as accountancy and law. The key questions any organisation should ask are:

  • do you know what is being said about you?
  • are you doing enough to influence it?
  • what could you do to respond to any negative perceptions? 

The multiple interactions that shape the commercial brand will also influence the employer brand. Just as employees are ambassadors for your commercial brand, the way they behave and project themselves will influence how potential employees perceive you – does your culture mean that your staff look like they’re happy to be at work and have the motivation to go the extra mile? This overlap between the commercial and employer brand is especially important for larger organisations, where customers may also be potential recruits.

the value of values

With so much information about what your company is really like to work for now in the public domain, Randstad research underlines the importance of authenticity in the way you project your employer brand.

How you behave as an employer is critical. The more the behaviours within your organisation live up to the rhetoric that surrounds it, the stronger the employer brand will be. There certainly shouldn’t be a gap between your description of the employee experience and the reality.

As you look at how to align how you want to be seen and how you actually behave, it’s important to ensure that your employer brand reflects your corporate values and objectives and that this mission is clearly articulated. At the core of this is what you need to do to meet stakeholder expectations, including creating the products and services customers want and delivering returns for shareholders, if applicable. 

You can then look at what sets you apart such as your knowledge and experience, the passion for what you do as an organisation, what you stand for, where you want to be and the value this delivers for society as a whole.

The need to align corporate strategy with the employer brand demands active engagement with the board, rather than just being a consideration for HR. It also means that employer brand should be managed and monitored in the same strategic and integrated ways as investor relations and marketing strategies.

‘Adapting the employer brand to your specifications’ in chapter 2 sets out in more detail how to develop and manage your employer brand.

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