Skip to main content

What is employer branding?

Employer branding isn’t just providing free fruit or gym memberships, a hip working office and the day off on your birthday (although these are all brilliant benefits). It’s the who you are, your company’s purpose and the why your employees want to work for you. It’s to ensure from the get-go, your staff align with your values, understand your vision, and believe in your company’s journey. It’s defining your company DNA and it’s what differentiates you from your competitors.

Is your brand conventional, forward-thinking or tech-savvy? These aspects of your company should all be portrayed through your employer brand, whether it’s the type of imagery you use on your career site, the language for your job adverts or how you communicate key deliverables. Everything should be clear and consistent to deploy messages that land and achieve buy-in from your stakeholders.

Why is employer branding important?

It’s important to ensure your employer brand is coherent when communicating to both prospective and current employees. Creating a unified outlook ensures your company work together as a team and hit business objectives. Mixed messaging, unclear branding and creating an environment where leaders have autonomous vision leads to a high attrition rate, unhappy staff and a huge loss of your time, money and resources. Not to forget: employer branding is a powerful tool for recruiting the best talent in the market!

Last year, the deverellsmith group assessed its employer brand and made some key decisions to push the company forward as it embarked on a journey of growth. Below details the steps which the company took to create a strong employer brand which focused on people and culture.

Step 1 – Assess the current landscape

To stimulate change around your current employer brand, an assessment reviewing where your company currently tracks will need to be completed. This can be done simply but the more in detail you review will enable a more thorough evaluation – it depends what stage of the journey your business is on.

Tools for your assessment:

  • Conduct interviews with employees across the company asking how they would describe their experience with the business and for feedback of the current employer brand.
  • Send an anonymous internal survey capturing an overview of the company’s feelings toward employer branding, culture, work environment and other associated topics.
  • Assess career paths: are they clear, achievable and are staff provided with the right training or resources to reach each stage?
  • What rewards schemes and recognition are in place to motivate staff across all roles?
  • Staff wellbeing: review benefits scheme, environment, and current programme in place to compare with your competitor offerings.
  • Driven by data – Run the numbers on your current attrition rate and hiring statistics. These figures are key to set targets moving forward.

Once you have conducted your assessment, you’ll be in a better position to move forward in creating a strong employer brand. The above can be done in stages and as detailed as your business requires. The assessment should provide a foundation for the development of your employer brand.

Step 2 – Key objectives

Now you’ve produced data and analysis, your business can start to explore future-proofing. Understanding your key objectives and the reason(s) why you are investing in employer branding will ensure you generate the right results. Strategic workforce planning is incomplete without setting your business goals.

Use the information which was uncovered in step 1 to shape these objectives, listening to employees, and providing solutions has a big impact.

Once deverellsmith had reviewed the numbers and findings from the assessment, it was clear that a focus on attrition and retaining staff was a priority. The logic behind this was to focus on customer experience and company culture and in order to do this we needed to create a motivated, stable and positive workforce.

This would be achieved by several tactics and smaller goals around staff wellbeing, career progression and learning and development which is revealed in step 4.

Step 3 – Review your values

What are your company values, do they align with your business objectives and do your employees stand by them in how they operate whilst at work?

If the answer is no, then it’s time to give your company values a refresh! Consider the values the core of your business, without them it’s hard to create an identity to take to market or expect your employees to represent you in the manner anticipated.

These values should evolve as your company does, so it may be the case that these change as you grow and move forward as a business over time. Provided it doesn’t cause confusion amongst employees and a clear strategy is communicated when launching new values, it should be an exciting time for the company.

People are a company’s most important asset, that is no secret. So, when finalising your company values it’s important for your team to be part of the decision process. The deverellsmith group hosted small focus sessions consisting of employees from different teams and different levels of seniority. The aim of each session was to explore values that individuals associate with the business and jot down terms or phrases of how they’d like the business to operate moving forward.

Once each session was complete, senior leadership finalised the 5 values which were common amongst groups and reflected the business objectives. These values were: trusted, team focused, progressive, driven, and positive.

Step 4 – The route forward

Now it’s time to take everything from steps 1-3 and create a workforce strategy that builds an effective employer brand. The strategy should include tactics that can be actioned to achieve your ultimate objective(s) whilst taking into consideration the data and analysis from step 1 and the employee identity in step 3.

As mentioned in step 2, deverellsmith’s overarching objective was to create a positive, stable and motivated workforce; this would be achieved through a new benefits scheme which aligned with employees wants and desires. A new trademarked reward scheme: ‘The Culture Bonus™’ was the result, which rewarded employees for excellent customer service and their contribution to the company culture; a new employee engagement strategy which focused on staff wellbeing, corporate social responsibility and diversity and inclusion; new job titles and job descriptions to create clear career progression; and a learning and development programme which offered over 100 hours of training for every employee.

What tactics should your business action to achieve the right employer brand?

Step 5 – Launch

It’s time to celebrate and showcase your company achievements with your staff and network. Depending on your company, the launch can vary and align with your business environment. For example, a virtual presentation is effective for a remote working workforce, or a breakfast roundtable might be more suitable for a start-up. Whatever your business, make a noise online and offline by updating your careers page, website, social feeds, work portal and other marketing channels. deverellsmith found personalised cupcakes hit the mark at the team launch!

Steps 1-5 can all be broken down into stages or small action points; if you are just looking to refresh your values, benefits scheme, or contracts these all have a positive contribution to your employer brand and can be stand-alone measures. Employer branding doesn’t have to be one huge project, it can be achieved in segments by taking small actions to push your employee brand forward.

Laura Croggon