As our global economy evolves, continuing to challenge leading companies with new competition every single day, there’s an acute need to find and retain top talent in order to be successful.

However, even with this increased attention and spotlight, 86% of HR managers still reported a struggle to find the right candidates, and 53% admitted to hiring less-than-qualified people in a desperate attempt to fill employment gaps.

So the question is: How can companies compete more effectively in the escalating battle for talent? The simplest answer might come in the form of employer branding.

A solution for brand visibility, affinity and growth, employer branding could be one of the best ways to bring prospective candidates through your door. Glassdoor found that 84% of people would consider leaving their current position if approached by a brand with a better reputation, while 69% would reject job offers from brands with poor employer branding – even if they were unemployed.

If you want to attract the best employees to your workforce, then it’s important to start learning key employer branding strategies to leverage the power of a strong reputation.

What is Employer Branding?

Your employer brand comes down to how people perceive your company. It dictates your reputation not just among consumers, but also with shareholders, employees and future job candidates. Employer brands are influenced by everything from internal communication strategies to company-specific solutions for employee recognition – even your brand advocacy programs.

In a world where more than half of employers can’t find qualified candidates for their empty roles, the easiest way to lure skill to your company is by showing employees that you have a brand they’ll want to work for. Your employer brand focuses on promoting the inspirational aspects of your corporate culture, along with the various features that differentiate you from other employers in your industry.

Given the fact that 94% of candidates are more likely to apply for a position listed by a company that actively manages its employer brand, you place yourself in the enviable position of having your pick from the talent pool. As you get started, 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 appropriately visible to your talent pool?
  • How can you use brand advocacy or brand ambassadors to give your employer branding strategy volume?

Building a powerful employment branding plan can be difficult, but it boils down to answering one question: “What makes your company the best place to work\?”

Here are the “Do’s and “Don’ts” to refining your employer branding strategy.

Do: Listen to Employees & Make Changes Based on Feedback

Of today’s job candidates, 76% are actively searching for insights into what makes a company a great place to work. Who better to describe the joys and shortcomings of being on your team than your existing employees?

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 are to working for your team. Use the feedback you get to develop an “Employee Value Proposition.”

Your Employee Value Proposition outlines the rewards you can offer to potential employees in exchange for their skills. This information will develop the messages you need to portray with your employer branding strategy best practices to acquire top talent.

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. 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 setting the foundation for a team of loyal brand ambassadors, while reducing employee turnover.

Don’t: Neglect Employer Branding Resources

Close to 90% of HR professionals agree that strong employer branding gives companies an advantage over their competition. However, in order to achieve this strong employer brand, it’s important to lay a strong foundation first. This starts by identifying the resources needed to put your plan in place and actually turn it into action.

Social media is the most appealing solution for increasing brand visibility, not to mention one of the easiest ways to give your brand ambassadors a voice. However, don’t forget about other solutions as well (especially depending on your industry) like employer review sites and social recruiting avenues. Regardless of your solution, it’s important to make sure you’re developing content that is authentic, transparent and engaging.

It’s important to keep in mind that brands need more than just a presence on their social media platforms—they need to be active and authentic in how they show future candidates what it’s like to work at the company, speaking with a voice they can trust. Make it a point to provide specific insights about your culture and values, show glimpses of the day-to-day work experience and exemplify your brand in every message, video and image.

The easiest way to do this? Get your employees involved in your employer branding.

Do: Give Employees a Voice in Your Brand

In today’s highly-social, interconnected world, it’s safe to say that word of mouth is a crucial business tool for employer branding. If your employees don’t love working for you, then people are going to know about it.

When it comes to searching for job opportunities, candidates trust employees 3x more than employers to provide accurate information. By upgrading your content strategy to incorporate an employee advocacy component, you can transform your workforce into brand ambassadors that boost brand visibility, enhance impact and give your employment branding more value.

With an employee advocacy program, you can simplify your content distribution and tailor it towards what works best for your specific company given your team and industry. By allowing for team-specific content distribution, content curation and strategic use of reporting functionality, you’ll uncover key insights into how your team really improves your branding efforts.

Whether on social media, videos or through blogs on your website, your employer branding strategy can leverage brand ambassadors to give potential candidates an insight into what it’s really like to work for your company.

Don’t: Narrow Your Focus Solely on Attracting Talent

Powerful employer branding leads to 50% more qualified applicants. However, you shouldn’t just be focused on pulling key talent into your company – you need to have an equal focus on retaining the essential talent already within the four walls of your business.

We know that retaining skill in any market can be complicated. In fact, one 2015 survey found that nearly a quarter of the average workforce would be happy to leave their current employer for a 10% raise. Yet, a strong company culture and an attractive brand can help mitigate this flight-risk. If an employer brand is properly aligned with candidate values, some studies suggest that you can reduce turnover by up to two-thirds.

The best way to attract and retain talent at the same time is to focus on creating an environment where people can envision a future for themselves. Let them know what their path looks like in the short-term as well as in the long-term. Involve them in the company’s future and show them how they can drive impact on a wide scale. Your employer branding should be more than just a marketing strategy, it should be a way of life.

Make sure that your management and leadership teams are fully committed to the brand and understand how to use it as a means to lead the rest of the team by example. Additionally, always continue to look for new ways in which you can remind your employees of why they joined your company in the first place. Deliver on the promises you’ve made regarding recognition, reward progress and ensure that your brand is always consistent.

Do: Track Employment Branding Results

While 90% of HR professionals believe that having good employment branding is more important today than it was 5 years ago, it’s hard to see the true value in your strategy without a solution for tracking results.

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

You can also look at things like employee retention rate, the number of candidate applications you receive, cost per hire and the strength of your brand ambassador programs. According to some studies, employer branding can raise stock prices by 36%, and decrease cost per hire by 43%.

Make a note of the metrics that are most important for you before you begin implementing your strategy. This way, you’ll have a baseline to measure and benchmark improvements or pitfalls against, while still keeping company culture top of mind as a critical piece to the success of your employer branding program.

The Benefits of an Employment Branding Strategy

Today, the most significant obstacle candidates face when considering a new position is not knowing what it’s like to work for a specific company. An employer branding strategy allows you to focus on convincing talent that your organization is the best next step in their careers. After all, if people believe that they won’t be able to find a better environment for their career, they’ll take much more pride and ownership over their role in the company.

With an employment branding solution, you’ll start to recognize:

  • Increased motivation amongst employees who are happy working in an engaging and fulfilling corporate environment
  • More reliable and loyal employees—if your staff love working for you, then you can rest assured that they’ll give you their best work and focused attention
  • Lower turnover rates, regardless if there are higher paying jobs elsewhere.
  • New generations of exceptional talent drawn to your company by your compelling employer branding. You won’t just attract good employees, you’ll attract the best.

Over time, your employer branding will naturally improve and evolve as you attract new employees and establish loyalty within your existing ones. If your aim is to improve engagement and advocacy – while reducing turnover – employer branding is the key to success.