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Employer Branding 101: Live your Brand Promise

Every company worth its name wants to do employer branding. But are they doing it right? Most think that having a few social media channels will do the trick. Or, if we make the right ‘noises’, stakeholders will perceive the brand positively.  

However, that doesn’t equal employer branding or business success. Not identifying and living your brand promise is suicidal for any organization that truly wants to benefit from the power of employer branding. 

A brand promise is a consistent experience that stakeholders receive every time they engage. The more passionately a brand can step up and deliver on its promise, the better returns it gives the organization.  A brand promise isn’t a one-off exercise.  

Consider this: 

  • When we were facing a pandemic, the organization suddenly felt ‘empathetic’ towards staff and focused on ‘well-being’. Now that the pandemic is over, they suddenly don’t feel the need for people and can fire them without notice or even a conversation. We are witnessing a spate of layoffs where leaders ‘realized’ they overestimated the number of people they needed and are letting them go by disconnecting systems and mailboxes! These are not fly-by-night operators. We are talking about leading global brands who have set benchmarks on how to employ, engage and influence industry and world events.  
  • Organizations that claimed they stood for values, equality, gender, and human rights aren’t practicing when the need arises. That doesn’t help to give a consistent experience! It isn’t going unnoticed. Like how consumers and employees rejected brands that were greedy and unethical during the pandemic, there will be a backlash that will haunt organizations for years to come. 

To get employer branding authentically aligned with brand promise and experiences, organizations need to get their act together. By first understanding what it means in the context of reputation management and perceptions.

Employer branding means (for stakeholders): 

  • Who you are and what you stand for. 
  • How you present yourself and how stakeholders perceive you 
  • Tapping employees’ voice and activism to stand apart from the rest 
  • Staying grounded, honest, and learning from experience 

All that you do for employer branding may not appeal to every stakeholder. For example, according to a Linkedin study, individual contributors and managers are 186% more likely than those at a senior leadership level to be influenced based on an employer brand. 

Paradoxes exist 

On one hand, organizations are laying off talented people by the thousands. On the other hand, the talent market isn’t getting easy to navigate with lots of companies vying for the same pool of professionals. What’s more, after the pandemic, organizations have relaxed their expectations of prospective candidates to have deep domain knowledge. They focus on skills and the ability to train staff to grow in other areas beyond their core capabilities.  Not just that, talent is harder to find, and staff’s choices and preferences have evolved. Organizations are unable to adapt quickly to the growing need of employees, especially the younger generation, and are struggling to cope with churn.  

Back to the roots 

To stem the rot, the organization must delve deeper into its values and culture and live the brand promise. It isn’t about just getting a salary or career opportunities and progression. If there is no understanding of the organization’s brand promise, every day will be a dreadful affair at work. How often do organizations invest in talking about ‘why’ staff made the right decision to join the workplace and the reasons why customers trust the brand? If your leaders are busy ‘firefighting’ everyday issues and technology challenges and can’t find the time to focus on such a valuable activity, there is little hope for the brand. 

Importantly, if your staff aren’t on your side, no matter what you do, your employer brand will be stagnant. A study found that 61% of LinkedIn members who follow your organization are willing to be brand ambassadors and share the company’s EVP with their networks.  

How many companies even know who follows them, let alone who amongst their staff are their biggest advocates of the brand?  

Being present on social media is not equal to being active on it. In one of the largest studies among Polish private companies in 2017 and listed in Forbes magazine, the authors explored the internet presence, the way organizations are presented and the level of interactivity of select social media. They discovered that most companies didn’t have a systematic approach to employer branding initiatives. Despite being present on social media, it wasn’t helping them get much traction. This goes to say that just merely having a presence and sharing content isn’t good enough. Your brand promise must shine through. Career washing, painting a rosy picture of how cool the workplace or opportunities are, won’t fly.

In essence, to truly live the brand promise, organizations must: 

  • Be authentic and consistent with their values  
  • Be credible and accurately present their organization and purpose  
  • Be ‘always-on’ and consciously watch actions. Living the brand promise isn’t seasonal and dictated by hiring cycles 
  • Be focused on experiences – to be able to go beyond engagement and view stakeholders, current and prospective as partners who need to be involved 
  • Be hungry to learn from mistakes and adapt to changes taking place in the environment. 

Getting your organization’s employer branding on track isn’t as easy as launching a few channels and conducting some fancy hiring events. As stakeholders watch the actions of organizations more closely than ever, living the brand promise is essential for success. 

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