Why CEOs Need to Prioritize Their Employer Brand

By Tricia Lucas | Leadership

Oct 12
CEO standing office window with view of skyline

Employer brand may seem like the latest trend in a world of social media and high-tech recruiting practices. But it’s not. Experts say it has been a game changer since the 1990s and will be a dominant force in recruiting strategies in the future. So what does this ominous prediction mean for you, the CEO, human resources professional, or startup founder? The prioritization of your branding is crucial to your ability to hire and retain top-notch performers.

Concerns about a skills gap and a low unemployment rate of 4.9 percent as of June 2016 have contributed to the “movement.” With job candidates having more employment opportunities, employers have to up the ante with competitive salaries and benefits packages.

What is Employer Branding?

As a talent management professional, I’ve learned that everyone thinks they know what this specialized, multipronged initiative is. But their general overview often minimizes its true meaning and purpose and many are at a loss as to how to proper implement. Employer brand can be synonymous with talent management or talent brand and is used to describe an organization’s reputation as an employer.

CEOs are often so focused on their products and services that they overlook their own employer brand. This kind of identity is different from its general corporate brand reputation that pertains to its value proposition to customers. Employer branding is a company’s philosophy that resonates with and communicates to all of your employees. It’s your commitment and promise.

Branding is an important part of your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and includes your company’s mission statement, values, objectives, and culture. It has a personality that speaks the same message to all key stakeholders. Basically, a brand focused on the welfare of your employees communicates one thing: Your company is a great place to work.

Candidate Experience

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and the quality and loyalty of employees have become a theme of campaigns. From the receptionist to senior executive, every employee should be an active participant in your talent brand that includes providing a positive candidate experience. Over 75 percent of job seekers view potential employer’s profiles six months prior to applying for a job at that company, reports Career Arc.

According to LinkedIn’s Talent Trends 2014 report, 56 percent of 18,000 respondents said “the company’s reputation as a great place to work” influenced their decision to apply for a job. However, less than 60 percent of employers say they have a talent brand strategy to ensure a good candidate experience.

Employee Retention and Engagement

The right kind of brand directly affects recruitment of employees, fosters engagement, and improves retention. According to Career Arc, a solid talent brand reduces the rate of early departures of “40 percent of new hires.” They are also less likely to quit after six months.

Higher Profits

“Organizations that were rated best employers to work for achieved profit rates four times greater than other companies,” according to Pendragon. LinkedIn reports that companies with solid, strong, positive talent brands see a 43% decrease in cost per hire as well as a 36% higher stock price. Remember your talent brand is a major part of your overall corporate brand. When customers decide to buy your product or service, they will look for reviews, rankings, competitor’s products, industry trends, etc. Perception is reality. Glassdoor has made companies more accountable for the employer brand and employees and job seekers are utilizing the resource.

Who is responsible for branding?

HR is transitioning from the department that sources talent, screens candidates and facilitates the onboarding process to a group that is responsible for promoting the brand to star candidates. HR professionals are handling the candidate experience because employer branding begins with the candidate regardless of whether they become an employee. The problem with this approach is that HR professionals are good at managing compliance and regulatory issues. They aren’t typically marketers and branding is really a marketing function. So where should ownership lie?

Sadly marketing departments tend to play a secondary role if any. Usually, your marketing departments are primarily tasked with marketing a function or service and don’t perceive their role in employer branding as significant. Marketing budgets are often absent of employer branding line items and companies struggle with the ownership of the initiative. Smart companies are delegating the responsibility to not only the HR Department but also to the chief executive officer who in turn engages marketing.

Because branding is expected to be at the forefront of your company’s overall strategy, as the chief executive officer, you should focus your efforts toward creating a stronger brand by communicating an effective message to all levels of your staff. Your employer branding needs to be a collaboration of efforts with your HR and Marketing departments and then communicated to your entire organization.

Exemplary Brand Models

Some companies ace talent management and other businesses fail miserably. Providing a positive candidate experience is just part of a smart employer brand strategy. Companies are getting smarter about retaining their hires and are providing various programs that include flex hours, charity support, onsite perks, and a host of other engagement activities. So who’s doing it right? Shell and Unilever were pioneers in employee-centric branding. But here are some other award-winning companies that have perfected their branding strategy.

Google has a 96 percent approval rating from workers and here’s why. Google allows engineers 10 percent of their time to create and experiment on anything they’d like which really plays strong to those who need time to create and build upon innovative ideas. Did you know that Google donates $50 for every five hours an employee volunteers? Should a U.S. Google employee die while working for Google, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. For more insight check out Google’s Employer Brand- Is it Right for You?

Quicken Loans is America’s No. 1 online retail mortgage lending company for a reason. With 150,000 employees located in over 10 states who enjoy an impressive benefits package, Fortune named it “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2016.

Sales Force has proven its dedication to not only its employees but also to local organizations. They donated $200 million to a children’s hospital.

NetSuite, a cloud service company, is noteworthy because of its strong ties to local and global charities. Employee-based projects include marathons that sponsor the building of classrooms in the Philippines.

To improve your employer brand be sure to get to the truth and understand what your employees think now and what’s important to them. How does the public currently rate your employer brand? Begin by embracing your marketing and human resources departments. Ultimately, be sure your employer brand strategy includes every employee. They will become your brand advocates.

This article was first published in The Huffington Post on 9/19/16

At Lucas Select, based in Raleigh, NC, we are passionate about technology startups and about sales and marketing as professions and have built extensive national networks of top-performing executives and managers. Unlike typical staffing agencies and headhunters, our recruiting services ensure that your company maintains a sustained growth model that is supported by strong sales management, talent recruitment at scale balanced by on-going people development while aligning with your Company’s core values.




About the Author

Tricia Lucas has over 25 years of demonstrated success in recruiting, marketing communications, and social media and helps technology companies recruit more efficiently by focusing on Recruiting Efficiencies, Employer Branding, and Social Media.

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