Feb 12
Employer Branding for Startups and SMEs

Employer Branding for Startups and SMEs

Any business that is selling a product or service is likely investing a lot of time and money into their corporate and consumer branding efforts. This is incredibly important for recognition and reputation, as well as increased sales, profits and success. But are you paying enough attention to your employer brand, or are you accidentally on purpose ignoring that part? Instead of attracting customers, the goal here is to attract future employees. While many large corporations can spend millions on their employer brands, start-ups and small businesses often don’t have the budget nor is it the first thing on their mind, I get it. However, they can (and should!) place a lot of importance on building their employer brand. Here is the why and the how.

The Importance of Employer Branding

Your employer brand is your company’s reputation as an employer and encompasses your work environment, values and culture. So, employer branding is about the ability to attract and retain the best talent. In a candidate market, in which targeting passive talent is key, this is more important than ever. Every business in your industry is competing for the same talent. A shrinking talent pool and strong demand is a recipe for disaster if you can’t convince talent that your company is the right choice for them.

Not only can a negative reputation cost at least 10% more per hire, but it can also drive talent away from your business entirely, increasing turnover and drastically lowering the volume of applicants. That does not sound so good, does it?

How to Build Your Employer Brand

Employer branding is not just about catered lunches and Friday’s office yoga class. Though, I admit, those are pretty cool perks, the top three factors associated with a good employer brand are stability, opportunities for career growth, as well as the ability to work with a top-performing team. Your employer brand already exists. You simply need to define and refine it because, obviously, you want to win the talent competition!

Where Does Your Company Stand?

Start with an internal analysis. I know, that sounds so boring. But it is important to understand where your reputation as an employer currently stands. Find out what your workforce values. What can you offer your employees and what inspires them to perform? Once you understand where you are at in your journey, you can target areas to promote, and areas to improve to better your company’s work environment and ultimately its reputation.

Employee Advocacy

Your current employees are your strongest brand ambassadors. I am sure you already knew that. But did you know that word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools and that your employer brand is not exempt? Once you have created a work environment in which employees can thrive, they will represent their workplace in a positive and natural way by talking about it. They will be seen as more trustworthy than a company’s voice. In addition to natural word-of-mouth, encourage employees to share company-guided content. A fantastic example of this is Cisco’s #IChoseCisco campaign which encouraged employees to share their stories on social platforms.

Revamp Your Hiring Process

Your hiring process says a lot about your company’s priorities and values as an employer. If the process of scheduling an interview is too complicated or takes too long, candidates quickly develop a negative view of your business. The same goes for applicants who are not kept in the loop about the status of their application. In addition to a negative candidate experience and perception of the brand, they will likely move on causing you to miss out on possible game-changing employees. For small businesses with none or just a few recruiters, employing support from an agency like Research Partners can speed up the process and help ensure a positive candidate experience. Additionally, the use of technology makes interview scheduling and follow-up easier and more efficient. So, there are no excuses!

Pay Attention to Your Career Page

The career page on your website is an opportunity to showcase your company’s values, mission, benefits, and culture. Use it to spotlight the perks employees can expect in exchange for their expertise. Include videos of your current workforce that describe their experience and growth within your company. Highlight your commitment to diversity and inclusion and educate prospective employees on environmental and community efforts or any other impact your business is making. Not selling your company’s culture on the career page would be a big missed opportunity.

Align the Interview Process to Your Employer Brand

When meeting with candidates for an interview, ensure that the prospective employee’s experience matches their expectation of a positive work culture. Every person involved, from the receptionist to the hiring manager, has a responsibility to properly represent the company’s values. Set aside enough time for the interview to avoid a rushed experience and use the opportunity to introduce the candidate to employees with long tenures to demonstrate loyalty.

Building and constantly monitoring your employer brand is an important part of your company’s ability to attract and retain top talent. It can help engage and motivate current employees, which will make them less likely to be receptive to competitor offers. In addition, engagement and motivation can boost productivity, which will ultimately add to your bottom line and we all like to hear that!

 

Photo by Patrik Michalicka on Unsplash

About The Author

Natalie Heilling is an International Executive Search Consultant and Co-Founder of Research Partners running various recruitment campaigns across Europe, North America, and Asia while helping clients reach their hiring targets with peace of mind.Natalie has worked in Technology and eCommerce for the last 20 years and helped US companies confidently establish themselves in Europe and emerging markets.

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