Employer brand, in short, is an organization’s reputation as a place to work. It is a combination of things like compensation and benefits, company culture and work environment, and the organization’s employee value proposition. Put even more simply, employer brand is an organization’s answer to the question “Why would someone want to work here?”
The above factors all contribute to the public’s perception of the employee experience within the organization. Just as consumer-facing branding promotes a product or service provided by an organization, employer branding promotes (or warns against) employment opportunities within an organization.
Employer branding has been an instrumental part of talent acquisition since the “War of Talent” started in the late 1990s, with its most obvious benefit being the power to attract top talent. The more recognition your organization has as a positive place to work, the more candidates you will have vying to work with you.
Employer branding attracts the right candidates
Employer branding doesn’t just add value by attracting more candidates, though, but also by attracting the right candidates. By clearly stating who you are as an organization, you’ll help candidates understand what it’s like to work with you while engaging the right candidates and discouraging those whose skills and work style might be a better fit elsewhere. For example, candidates who work best independently will be less likely to apply to work at an association whose recruiters and executives promote a collaborative work environment. That association would simply not be the right culture fit for potential employees who prefer to work alone. Less time spent reviewing information and interviewing with candidates who would have trouble fitting in with an association’s culture means less frustration for both parties.
Employer branding retains employees
That said, the benefits of employer branding aren’t exclusive to recruitment. Employer branding can also have a significant impact on employee retention. Using employer branding to recruit candidates who are a culture fit in turn decreases turnover. Creating a culture that becomes part of an organization’s brand means you’re appealing to people on a deeper level than compensation alone and finding employees who are passionate about working for your organization. So long as you can live up to the public image you’ve created, these employees are less likely to leave for reasons as simple as higher compensation.
A strong employer brand can also contribute to the development and success of employees. Your brand communicates upfront which skills and traits are valued and what achievement within the company looks like, providing employees with clear expectations of what’s needed to succeed and where they can grow.
Finally, just like consumer-facing branding creates brand loyalty, employer branding has the ability to evoke a sense of organizational pride in employees – employees who identify with and take pride in their employer’s brand, values, and company culture will feel more at home and more fulfilled than employees who do not connect or engage with their employer.
Employer branding gives associations an edge on hiring
In the association space, employer branding can be particularly effective because it can provide a competitive hiring edge to associations that may not have the resources to compete with larger, for-profit employers in areas like compensation and opportunities for advancement. When judging the value of a job opportunity, whether as an incoming candidate or an employee considering leaving for greener pastures, people most commonly look at opportunity for professional development or career advancement, management behavior, work environment, job characteristics, compensation and work-life balance. Many of these factors are controllable even in the smallest of associations and can easily be included in an employer brand.
For example, employees at associations or not-for-profits often experience burnout since they tend to be cause-motivated and therefore work passionately. For those folks, an association with a brand promoting good work-life balance, telework options, and/or a lot of independence and autonomy would be enticing.
What does your association’s employer brand say? What image does it project about working at your association? If you don’t know, take a stroll around your office and ask a few colleagues you trust to give an honest answer. If you like what they say, and they like representing your association, great! But if your association’s employer image could use some burnishing, consider taking some steps to address the issues your colleagues confide. Improving your employer branding can result in happier, more loyal current employees and better quality future employees. It’s well worth the investment of strategizing and updating company policy.