In the twentieth century, employers attracted talent and kept great workers within their organization for decades because the marketplace generally perceived that “good jobs” were rare and precious. As we enter the 2020s, unemployment is at an all-time low, which means that top talent has many options for rewarding, highly-compensated roles.
More than ever, employers need to sell great talent on joining their team and continue to actively delight their best-performing employees in order to keep them around. As an HR professional or a business leader in charge of hiring, that means you increasingly need to think not just about who you need to attract but how you’re going to attract them. We’ve officially entered the era of creative employer branding.
Moving forward, we’ll explore the steps any organization can take to build a strong identity that communicates value to talent and makes people want to be a part of your team. This includes:
- Articulating a mission statement and a brand story
- Identifying & building around the true value of employment at your business
- Honoring and living your brand identity in real ways
Starting with a Mission Statement
Every business’ goal is some version of “Do good work and make money,” but in order to connect with the public in a way that aids recruitment and builds long-term value for your current employees, you need to be able to present your own highly personalized version of a corporate mission statement.
That mission statement should be as succinct as possible and, at minimum, address:
- What kind of work you are doing
- What kind of a community you are building
- How you hope to impact your industry or the world in general
- Why people should be excited about your business or team
For example, here’s a sample mission statement:
“Our mission as an employer is to help our team members acquire new skills, take on new responsibilities, and have a meaningful impact on our clients’ businesses and the Chicago community at large while having as much fun as possible along the way.”
This mission statement is strong from a talent attraction/recruitment standpoint because it:
- Communicates that employees will grow and thrive with the business (new skills, new responsibilities; implied opportunities for advancement)
- Grounds the work in a particular setting (Chicago)
- Explains why the work is compelling or relevant (improving the local business community)
- Sells the unique, welcoming personality of the company (having as much fun as possible)
Building a Brand Story
With that employer mission statement in place, the next step is to create your brand narrative. By creating a strong mission statement, you’ve actually done a lot of the conceptual groundwork already!
Your employer brand story should take your mission and values and build them out in a way that communicates the world you’re working to create and the methods and mindsets you’re using to get there.
A strong brand story needs to:
- Make the talent you’re looking for say “This really speaks to me!”
- Identify what kind of mindsets, approaches, and skills you really value
- Communicate how your employees, partners, and customers are on a journey together
- Leave people wanting to be part of that story themselves
Articulating the Benefits Your Offer
This is one of the critical areas of employer branding that many organizations miss the mark on. You offer employees a salary, healthcare benefits, and a 401k, and believe that should be sufficient, right? The truth is, that’s just the beginning.
In order to fully realize your employer brand identity, you need to find the words to explain what a powerful, valuable experience it is to work for you. You need to ask yourself:
- How and why is daily life great for your employees?
- How do you help people feel good about the work they do?
- How do you ensure your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves?
- How do you provide just, fair performance management practices that help great workers thrive and build healthy motivation?
- How do you maintain a positive community in our office?
- How do we provide support for our team members in times of personal need?
- How do you offer employee benefits that make a strong impact in employee’s lives and help them be happier and healthier?
Those questions are really just a jumping-off point, and as you answer them, you will likely stumble upon new questions and new ways of looking at the value and opportunity of your employer brand.
With a strong understanding of the benefits your brand offers, you can immediately strengthen your recruitment and talent attraction efforts.
Framing Core Values
So far, we’ve talked about ideas that you put out into the world: a statement about your goals, a story about your mission, a description of why you’re a great employer; core values, on the other hand, are ideas that must be pushed inward, into the tissue and lifeblood of what you do.
Your values are the things you stand for as employer; things like:
- Community engagement
The goal with identifying core values isn’t to show off how forward-thinking you are as an organization. It’s to create a framework for your own accountability. Once values are in place, you need to think about how you will ensure your values are lived every day, both from an over-arching corporate perspective and in terms of person-to-person interactions between or among your team members.
When your values are in place and it’s evident what you’re doing to make them real in the world, you look like a strong, thoughtful organization and employer.
Living Your Brand
All the recommendations above are designed to help you transform your approach to employer branding to resonate and engage top talent in new ways. Through self-knowledge and careful articulation, you can put your best foot forward as a hiring entity and organization.
With that said, the amount of ROI you see on your employer branding initiative is directly related to the effort level you put into making the work real and the honesty with which you present yourselves and engage with talent.
When you articulate corporate values but don’t honor them, it actually hurts your reputation as an employer. When you have a great brand story but it’s just words on a page, your brand doesn’t stand for or represent anything real – it’s just a house of cards that’s doomed to fall at some point.
Once you thoughtfully envision an employer brand, articulate your mission, values, and goals, and put all your effort into making those things real, then you’ll truly be an attractive employer.
How to Learn More
Employer branding is emerging as a top priority for all HR departments and hiring leaders across businesses. In the ultra-competitive talent market, landing the impactful superstars you need to continue growing and innovating requires a powerful, clear employer brand and a dedication toward pushing that brand out into the world while maintaining the internal accountability that makes it real.
If you’re an HR or business leader planning or leading an employee branding effort, Launchways’ Employer Branding Toolkit is a centralized resource designed to help you audit, address, and improve every aspect of your employer brand strategy, including:
- How to craft values that aid recruitment and foster a positive culture
- How to communicate the value you offer employees in a way that goes beyond salary and benefits
- How to manage your website and social media presence in a way that communicates and reinforces your employer branding efforts
- How to create an effective hiring process that reflects and strengthens your brand over time
- How to refine your interview process with an eye towards landing great talent and leveraging your brand as a selling point
- How to onboard in a way that reinforces your brand values, culture goals, etc.