A company is only as good as the people it employs - one of the oldest maxims in business. Finding, hiring and then keeping the best people is an essential part of business management, and those who do it well are usually the most successful.
Employer branding is an arm of brand management which focuses on a company’s image as an employer. Working closely alongside HR operations, employer branding has two basic aims:
- Project a positive external image to make the company attractive to new talent
- Create the right environment within the business to make sure the best talent stays.
The latest trend in employer branding has focused on harnessing social media to increase employee engagement and, by creating an employee-led ‘buzz’, sell the business as a top place to work to prospective new talent. Innovations from companies such as L’Oreal, Google, Deloitte and Oracle have put digital employer branding on the map as a way of using testimony from existing employees to lead recruitment campaigns.
Why does employer branding matter?
When we talk about branding, we usually talk about the ways a business, product or service can make itself stand out in busy, competitive consumer markets. What makes one business different from another, what is going to make someone choose one product or service over another?
Employer branding is essentially the same thing, but focused squarely on the labour market. There are a lot of businesses out there looking to hire new staff, so what makes yours stand out? What key messages are going to make sure the brightest and best talents want to work for your company rather than a direct rival?
Getting employees onside
Digital employer branding borrows its principles from social marketing, which is based on the idea that creating a dialogue with and between customers is a powerful way to create a positive, engaging brand. In employer branding, your ‘customers’ are your employees, so the first step is creating the right sort of dialogue within your company.
People talk about work all the time. One of the key ideas behind employer branding is to tap into that, to remove the barriers between staff and management and to make open, honest conversations about work part of the company ethos. People like to feel their opinions are valued, it increases engagement and buy-in in what the business are doing, and people are more likely to enjoy their work and be more productive. Plus, if concerns are raised, it means something can be done about it.
Taking the conversation outside
What brands as diverse as L’Oreal and Oracle have been successful in doing is using social media to harness these internal dialogues as part of their recruitment strategies. L’Oreal created two Instagram hashtags - #LifeatLoreal and #LorealCommunity - to encourage employees to share photos and stories of their work and friendships within the company.
The huge increase in traffic to L’Oreal content on Instagram was an indication that it was projecting a very positive image to an entirely new audience. Based on what people within the business were saying and sharing, it looked a great place to work.
Of course, giving employees permission to talk about work on social media, while at work, is not going to attract the brightest and best talent by itself. It all needs to be part of a wider branding and recruitment strategy.
Oracle, which has been praised for its use of social media in recruitment campaigns, provides a useful list of top tips for digital employer branding. Alongside creating conversations and making use of employee-generated content, it talks about the importance of having a strategy to decide what key messages to promote, of preparing employees to be brand ambassadors, and paying attention to professional, slick presentation.