[su_dropcap style=”flat”]Y[/su_dropcap]OU ALREADY UNDERSTAND how critical your brand is to your business. You think about brand positioning, how your marketing enhances your brand, what your brand promises to your customers. You know that having a strong brand improves your ability to sell and increases the amount you can charge. You recognize that your products and services – and the experiences that your customers have with them – can make or break your brand.
But have you thought about your brand as an employer? An employer brand is the brand people work for – just like the customer brand is the brand people buy. Do you know what your “employment brand” is? How do your employees – and former employees – feel about working for you? And what are they telling your prospective employees? If it’s true that “your brand is what your customers say it is” than it’s also true that “your employer brand is what your employees say it is” – and with Twitter and Facebook and other social media outlets – they’re telling the world what it is more loudly than ever before.
One particular avenue that employees and candidates use to transmit information about an employer’s brand is Glassdoor, a site that provides an easy way for employees to post reviews about what it’s like to work at a particular company. Recently, Software Advice conducted a survey that found that almost half of the job seekers that responded use Glassdoor at some point in their job search. They use it to figure out who the top employers are when they are beginning their search. When they’re preparing to apply, they look for information about comp and benefits. And before they accept a job offer, they seek signs about the company’s culture, its leadership and its commitment to career development.
So how do you ensure that employees are saying good things about your brand as an employer? First and foremost, be a good employer. Particularly in some key areas that matter most:
- Compensation and benefits
- Work/life integration
- Career opportunities
- Culture and values
- Trustworthy leadership
That means: reward people fairly, recognize that there is more to their lives than their work, provide chances to learn and build skills, be consistent about what matters to you as an organization and “walk that talk” and provide clear leadership from the top.
Second, if you’ve got those things in place, help your employees become your “brand ambassadors” by:
- Communicating regularly and fully on many aspects of the business – make it a dialog – from the bottom-up as well as from the top-down
- Creating a social media policy that encourages employees to be your “fans” and to share company success stories
- Constructing mechanisms that allow for complaints and concerns to be dealt with promptly and internally – before they get to the Yahoo message board
- Providing ways for former employees to remain engaged as “alumni” of the organization (I still participate in a LinkedIn group for a company that closed 22 years ago! Now that’s a strong culture.)
But what if all this fails? What if you’re doing things right and you still find you’ve got a “negative” association to your employer brand? If that happens, you can:
- Take a long look in the mirror – does what is being said have even a bit of truth? Are there improvements you can make?
- Engage employees in the solution by talking openly about negative reviews or comments. Rather than pretending it will go away if you ignore it, can you ask some trusted employees, “Is this real? What could we be doing better? How can we get the word out that this is a good place to work?”
- Respond in a considered fashion. Don’t try “dueling posts” if someone has made a comment that is dubious but rather build your own positive presence. LinkedIn, Glassdoor and others allow you to build a company page that gives you a venue for sharing your own point of view.
Perhaps the best advice on creating a positive employer brand is embedded in the title of the book by Patricia Nazemetz, former Chief Human Resources Officer for Xerox and Will Ruch, CEO of Versant: HR and Marketing: Power Partners. Whether you’re a large company with separate HR and marketing departments or whether you’re doing both jobs (and everything else) yourself, take the time to be sure that what you’re saying externally (marketing) is aligned with what you’re doing internally (HR).
Social media has taken branding and reputation out of the hands of the company and into the hands of its customers and employees. You can participate in shaping a reputation as the kind of people want to work by focusing on your employer brand as regularly as you do your customer brand.
Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared in Enterprising Women and is featured here with permission.