The human element of the workplace has never been more important—even in our remote world. In 2021, 86% of employees said company culture was important to them. But with 57% of knowledge workers open to job searching, how do you attract, retain and keep great employees connected to your company? With an employer branding strategy.

Employees’ expectations of their employers have shifted through the pandemic. It’s increasingly important to show people how you take care of employees, what your brand stands for and the ways your company puts its values into action. In a difficult hiring market, business leaders have an acute need to find and retain top talent in order to be successful.

Today, most people turn to social media and job boards to research jobs and company culture. A strong employer branding strategy can use these same outlets to build trust among prospects and authentically demonstrate what it means to work for your company.

If your aim is to improve candidate engagement and employee advocacy—while reducing turnover—employer branding is the key to success.

What is employer branding?

An employer brand is the perception and reputation of your company among current employees and job seekers. An effective employer branding strategy answers one core question for future employees: “What makes your company the best place to work?”

This strategy can involve you and your employee advocates sharing and emphasizing the inspirational aspects of your corporate culture, like your brand mission, values and initiatives. Similarly, it should highlight how your company’s unique features differentiate you from other employers.

Ask yourself and your team questions like:

  • Why should someone want to work for you?
  • Do your managers and employees share the same perception of your brand?
  • Are you visible to your talent pool?
  • How can you weave employees and their personal networks in your employer branding strategy?
  • Do we live our brand values on a regular basis?

The benefits of an employer branding strategy

Building a world-class employer branding strategy puts your company in the enviable position of having your pick from the talent pool. In fact, 75% of candidates are more likely to apply for a position with a company that actively manages its employer brand.

Today, one of the most significant obstacles candidates face when considering a new position is not knowing what it’s like to work for a specific company. An employer branding strategy helps you convince talent that your organization is the best next step in their careers.

Over time, your employer branding will naturally evolve as you attract new employees and build loyalty among your existing team.

Why is employer branding important to corporate communications?

Recent data shows managing brand and corporate identity is an increasingly key function for communications professionals. Maintaining a strong employer brand is a responsibility shared between corporate communications, social teams and among all employees. With brand identity ever-visible and shifting on social media, it’s become an important—and fragile—element of your company’s image. With millions of employees leaving jobs amid the Great Resignation, it’s crucial to highlight that your company is a desirable place to work and grow.

In a world where having a cool office isn’t the selling point it used to be, an employer branding strategy paints a picture of who you are as a company. Today, companies that aren’t showing how they care for employees and put values in action are falling behind. The majority of workers think it’s important that a company’s values align with their own. And 53% of job seekers want employers to share DEI hiring goals.

Here’s how to create an employer branding strategy that brings your company’s values to life to keep you competitive in the market and desirable to current staff.

How to create a powerful employer branding strategy

Do: Use feedback from employees to develop your employee value proposition (EVP)

No one knows your company like your employees. Who better to help describe what makes you the place to work?

A confidential survey can be an excellent way to gather information about what your employees think about your current brand. Ask them what they might tell their friends about your company or what they consider the best aspects of working for your team.

Use the feedback to develop an employee value proposition. Your EVP outlines the monetary and non-monetary rewards you offer to potential employees in exchange for their skills, such as compensation, unique benefits, work-life balance, team culture, diversity and inclusion initiatives and more. This information should influence the messaging and content you develop to support your employer branding strategy and recruitment efforts.

Remember, if the survey reveals problems with your corporate culture or internal communications, it’s important you listen to those areas of concern and address them. Nearly half of employees say that if leadership asked for and acted on their feedback, it would help reduce voluntary turnover.

Share your action plans with employees and let them know that you’re willing to adapt to meet their needs. This is a great way to start empowering a team of loyal brand ambassadors and demonstrate that your company isn’t just talking the talk.

Don’t: Neglect employer branding resources

To establish and build your employer brand, you have to lay a strong foundation. This starts by identifying the resources you’ll need to execute your strategy and the platforms where you’ll promote your brand and EVP.

Social media

Social media is one of the most appealing and accessible solutions for increasing employer brand visibility and giving your employee ambassadors a voice.

At Sprout, we share hiring updates, companywide initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion and #TeamSprout features across social platforms to show off the personalities, skills and culture that make our company a great place to work.

Job search and review websites

With 86% of employees and job seekers looking up company reviews before deciding where to apply, it makes sense to keep up with your company’s Glassdoor and LinkedIn Business profiles. “Whether a job seeker is actively or passively looking for a new opportunity, Glassdoor is the prime destination for getting the inside scoop into what it’s like to be an employee at your organization,” said Glassdoor’s Lead Product Marketing Manager Sophia Fox.

Use Glassdoor to highlight key information that savvy job seekers consider before applying—from company size to remote work policies and perks. Plus, you can add photos of your office, celebrate employees, company events, updates and more.

But improving your Glassdoor presence takes more than posting an occasional company update.

“Your Glassdoor profile will give future hires a feel for your voice, your values and why you believe you’re an employer of choice. But the real magic happens when you layer in a well-balanced mix of diverse employee experiences through reviews, testimonials and company updates,” said Lauren Polkow, Director of Product Management at Glassdoor. “This opens the window into what candidates are really wanting from you: an authentic feel into what it’s really like to join your company.”

Don’t: Ignore your reviews

Candidates turn to review sites for honest opinions that come directly from employees. In addition to posting on your review sites, don’t forget to regularly monitor and engage with reviews—even if they’re negative.

This gives you a chance to address how you will correct issues and amplify the positives. Not only that—showing that you seek feedback and take employee recommendations seriously can do wonders for morale and your rating. According to Glassdoor, 80% of users agree that their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review.

A positive review for a company that also lists some areas for improvement.

Ratings matter and can even lead to positive, trust-building press around your company. When you look at Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list, for example, you’re greeted by a list of companies by rating and employee comments.

Do: Track employer branding results

Having strong employer branding is more important today than ever before. But it’s hard to see the value in your strategy without tracking results.

When measuring the ROI of your employer branding strategy, you’ll need to look at metrics related to differentiation, awareness and perceived quality in your workplace. Think about using online review websites and surveys to help you identify the changes that your employer branding is contributing to.

Consider also setting up social listening topics to gauge the overall perception of your employer brand.

Let’s say people are on social asking, “Does Company X prioritize DEI,” or sharing that they’ve “heard Company X doesn’t have good work-life balance.” Even if your brand isn’t tagged, a listening tool will pick up those mentions, which gives you an opportunity to respond, or bring those insights to human resources and hiring managers.

Sprout's social listening tool where messages mentioning the fictional Sprout coffee brand are displayed.

Sprout Social’s Listening tool can also provide insight into how people feel about your brand and about your competitors. This is a great way to identify what you can improve and if your employer branding efforts are working.

Track sentiment to see how perception changes as you continue to execute your employer brand strategy.

Sprout's social listening tool showing sentiment around messages mentioning the fictional brand Sprout Coffee.

Pro tip: Identify the metrics that are most important to you before you begin implementing your strategy. This way, you’ll have a baseline to benchmark improvements or pitfalls against.

Eric Pettit
Senior Director of Product Marketing at Glassdoor

Use employee advocacy to give employees a voice in your brand

If your employees don’t love working for you, people will know about it. But those who do love working for you can be powerful brand advocates. After all, employee voice matters three times as much as the CEO’s.

Employee advocacy is the internal and external promotion of an organization by its staff members. Given that employee content gets up to 8x more engagement than content on brand channels, empowering employees to amplify your brand can be critical in attracting talent to your organization.

“Your employees’ voice is your employer brand,” said Eric Pettit, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Glassdoor. “There is nothing stronger and more attractive to job seekers and candidates than getting an authentic and balanced point of view on what it’s like to be a part of your organization.”

Employee advocacy can improve your social media marketing efforts, too. Encouraging employees to share insights using Sprout’s employee advocacy solution, Edina Realty saw a 674% MoM increase in social engagements.

Make it easy for employees to get involved by curating employer brand content for them to share across their social platforms—an employee advocacy platform can help with this.

Pro tip: In addition to curating content for employees, brands should encourage employees tell their own stories, too. When people speak about their own experiences, motivations and values, current employees and potential candidates are more likely to feel a deeper connection to the company as a whole.

Start developing an employer branding strategy that works

Your employer branding strategy should be more than just a marketing effort—it should be a way of life. Management and leadership teams must be fully devoted to the brand in order to follow through on commitments to their employees and adjust when growth areas are revealed.

A great employer brand starts from the inside out. Take it slow, and before you start, ensure that your internal communications strategy is in the right place to set yourself up for success.