For practical reasons, we tend to spend a lot of time focusing on the best strategies for recruiting talent and managing people. We talk about everything from streamlining the hiring process to work cultures and performance metrics to succession planning. But among all of those concerns runs a fundamental through line: employer brand.
Every organization has one, often a combination of positives and negatives. But too often organizations are unaware of the power of a brand — and its impact on everything we aim to do.
Conducting a holistic assessment of your existing employer brand is the best way to make sure you have a brand that represents your organization, enables your employees to feel great about working there, sets them up for success and attracts the talent you need and want. In this post, we’re going to take a look at how to do just that.
Let’s get started!
1. Find out the essential impression your brand makes from your people
Fact finding starts with the employees. What would happen if you did a quick, anonymous survey of your workforce and asked them one simple question:
What word would you use to best describe this employer?
If you truly want to get a real answer, don’t just give them positive choices or choices that deftly fit into your latest marketing campaigns.
I’m not knocking marketing: every company benefits from that all along the customer and employee journey. But this is looking at the total impression, the visceral takeaway.
So avoid the temptation to use only words that define your official core values. You need to know how far apart truth and what you’d like to be true really are.
Bonus points for inviting people to contribute their own terms as well (but keep it anonymous, of course!).
2. Inventory the values you’ve established as core to your organization
If you have invested teams, energy and consulting resources in focusing on your company’s core values, you need to make sure all that hard work isn’t happening in a vacuum. There’s a threshold to be crossed from identifying to manifesting here.
As an exercise, review the core values you’ve selected as your own, such as transparency, accountability, inclusivity, diversity, teamwork, growth, integrity, trust, and well-being.
Which of these resonate throughout the workplace, and which don’t? The method you use to fact find is up to you, but it’s important that you do it.
Find out which of these values feel like they’re an organic part of the work culture — and which don’t. Take it seriously, or you’ll wind up with employee reviews on your job pages about the big disconnect between words and deeds.
3. Scrutinize that EVP!
It used to be that the employer value proposition (EVP) was seen as a basic combo: salary, benefits and bonuses, plus the occasional perk. Organizations would offer the best packages they could, but sometimes, there was no competing with big firms with deep pockets.
But we understand so much more now about all the elements that go into work — including the employee experience. Your EVP includes that too, everything from the values that matter to employees to the technology they use and your whole work culture.
Big firms don’t have a monopoly on the employee experience, so smaller brands now have the chance to compete on EVP. For that to work, the EVP has to be accurate — you need to know what you truly offer employees and what they see as your EVP.
If you have a great work culture and terrific people, that’s part of your EVP. If you’re in a gorgeous old industrial building that’s been converted into sweet offices, that’s part of it too. And if you are committed to developing and training employees in skills that benefit their careers as well as the roles they have in your company, that’s part of your EVP.
But remember — be honest about what you offer. Your employer brand is only as good as what you truly know about your value as an employer.
4. Review your pandemic performance
Here’s one more exercise I strongly suggest: Review how your organization has tended to its workforce during the pandemic.
Employees are paying attention, as are potential hires. Leave policies, access to telehealth, remote work support and an overall emphasis on enabling work and lifeto coexist are just some of the ways companies are putting their best foot forward.
An employer brand doesn’t grind to a halt during a crisis — it shows itself. The world of work has been irrevocably changed. Now is the time to make sure your brand acknowledges that.
And remember, having dug into your employer brand and identified the gaps between perception and reality, don’t stop there. Make it a practice to do this periodically!