Enhancing your employer branding with a human touch is key to attracting the ideal talent who resonate with your company's mission, goals, and culture.
Building & humanizing your employer brand is about more than just storytelling; the process consolidates business objectives and communicates them through your messaging, in the best possible way. However, implementing this change requires a clear strategy, care, and an understanding of the nuances.
To support this, we have compiled this guide. It aims to clarify the concept of employer branding and provide companies with a structured approach to infuse humanity into their employer brand.
What is Employer Branding?
Employer branding refers to how your company is perceived as an employer by both current employees and prospective talent. This perception is significantly influenced by your company's messaging.
However, it's vital to understand that businesses don't fully control how they are perceived. Talent might form opinions that differ from the intended communication. This underscores the importance of precise messaging and choosing effective channels to amplify it.
Employer branding is perceived in different ways, such as:
- Through job descriptions
- Employee stories and experiences
- Compensation packages
- Commitment to diversity & inclusion
Humanizing your employer brand is about more than just leading with core values and the company mission; it requires tying these values together and building a compelling narrative around them.
The goal is to craft stories that deeply resonate with the ideal talent, creating a unique and appealing calling that speaks directly to them."
How to Build Your Employer Brand?
To build and humanize your employer brand, start by understanding the core aspects that attract talent to your company. The discovery phase provides crucial insights.
The key lies in crafting and communicating your unique value effectively, as this shapes how top talent perceives your brand. Focus on creating a narrative that resonates with potential employees, highlighting your company's unique culture and values.
Explore more how to build your employer brand and humanize it to attract top talents:
Employer value propositions
First, it’s important to evaluate your employer value proposition (EVP) – or create one if you haven’t already. An EVP is exactly what it sounds like – it’s the value promised by a company to prospective talent, should they join the employer.
An employee value proposition includes tangible benefits, like compensation, career development opportunities, and benefits. However, it also offers value in less tangible forms – such as the promise of a positive work culture, and an inclusive, safe environment.
Thus, when crafting – or improving – your EVP, it’s crucial to consider the real value your company offers its talent.
Modern talent expects employers to provide fair compensation packages, commit to diversity and inclusion at the organizational level, and provide ample upskilling and learning and development opportunities. And, to continue acquiring top talent, employers must strive to meet these expectations.
Skills assessments are valuable for understanding and developing the capabilities of your workforce, aligning them with company goals. Ensure your EVP also reflects a commitment to continuous Learning & Development, catering to modern talent expectations for professional growth alongside fair compensation and diversity initiatives.
Read More: How Ness Digital Engineering Achieved Hiring Excellence with WeCP
Digging deeper into your brand’s value
If you’re in a company of any size, there is existing value that has attracted – and retained – your current workforce. Talking to existing employees and learning why they choose to join, and stay, can help you identify value to communicate in your messaging.
Moreover, it’s also important to identify areas of improvement. For example, while many companies are encouraging diversity and inclusion, asking your employees to evaluate the success of these initiatives is helpful. For example, some minority employees may feel alienated in the workplace – which could be a reason for top talent turning away from your company, too.
Encourage employees to share their candid, unfiltered opinions to discover value and room for improvement. This will pave the way for powerful messaging to attract, and retain, the best talent.
Culture isn’t easy to identify, and the specifics of a place’s culture are hard to pinpoint. But it’s really easy to feel culture, and to experience it, in a space. Workplaces are the same – culture is elusive, but every employee experiences it and is influenced by it. Culture can make or break a company.
So if your goal is to humanize your employer brand, culture is absolutely a factor to consider. And while we can’t quantify culture or measure it tangibly, we can ask questions to help us define and understand the vision for our workspace culture, like:
“What do we stand for?“
“How do we expect managers to empower employees?“
“What values should company leadership uphold?“
After answering these broader questions, you can zero in on specifics with questions like:
“How should employees feel when taking sick days?” – do you want employees to feel comfortable about taking days off when they’re sick? If so, does your culture speak to this – is health and personal care prioritized, and are managers empathetic?
“Do employees who are in minority feel comfortable and welcome here?” – You can collect this information by running employee surveys and talking to colleagues.
“Do employees feel heard here? Are ideas welcomed? Is constructive feedback given in a positive way?” – Again, these are questions you can answer by conducting employee surveys or talking to team members.
Workplace culture may seem disconnected from the employer brand, but in truth, the former drastically influences the latter. For example, practicing diversity and inclusion within the company puts you in a strong position to communicate these values in your messaging.
Understand your audience – and how they interact with your brand
Nowadays, online recruiting makes up a large part of the hiring process. Top talent is interacting with companies digitally, both while actively jobseeking, and while not. LinkedIn, for example, has solidified its place as a powerful recruiting platform.
Thus, it’s important to work your employee value proposition – and core values – into your digital messaging. Everything from social media posts to job listings should reflect company and brand values. For example, job posts should ideally:
- Use inclusive language
- Clearly list tangible benefits
- Communicate your value proposition
- Comply with your brand voice
Making sure your messaging is unified is a vital part of establishing a single, clear employer brand. It’s also important to amplify your message on the right channels – the ones where your ideal talent lies.
Build your story from within
We can’t humanize our employer branding without the help of real people. In fact, putting our people front and center is the best way to humanize the brand.
In other words, if you want to attract top talent, show them how your existing employees are fulfilled and thriving. Spotlight their stories and experiences, interview them and encourage them to share their professional journey.
At WeCP (We Create Problems), we run a spotlight series (“Life at WeCP“) where employees share their experiences at the company. It helps us showcase the culture, learning opportunities, and goals of the company in the most candid way possible. It’s a message to our ideal talent, a promise of “This is us.”
Getting buy-ins and distributing the message
It’s not enough for you to commit to humanizing the employer brand alone. For your employer branding strategy to be successful, it’s crucial to get buy-ins from employees that will contribute and advocate for the brand.
We rely on colleagues to help us tell our brand story, but they may be unfamiliar with how exactly to help us. So, to get the best, most candid stories, it’s important to guide team members and explore ways to discover deeper insights. And here are some ways to achieve that:
- Create a safe place to share. When interviewing colleagues to get their stories, empower them to candidly share their real experiences. It’s important to create a safe environment where they feel comfortable sharing.
- Treat it like a real interview. That means prepping the interviewee – give them a heads up, send them the questions in advance, and book a slot with them.
- Help interviewees refine their story. Remember, most people you interview aren’t familiar with employer branding and humanizing brands. So it’s our job to guide them, to help them frame their thoughts and be specific. Help interviewees steer away from generic narratives and encourage them to share unique perspectives to strengthen your brand.
- Avoid restricting yourself to specific formats. An interview can be shared in the form of a blog post, video clips, and short posts on social media as part of branding activities. Repurpose the content and test different formats to get more out of it.
Lastly, remember what we discussed before – about how your employer brand is influenced by the entirety of your messaging. That means the insights you collect should influence your messaging across all channels and formats.
Consider going beyond individual stories and actually showcasing your work culture – like on social media – to help strengthen your employer brand. For example, if your company operates on a hybrid model, which top talent is actively seeking out, let prospective talent see how your teams work and collaborate remotely.
Structuring teams and assigning ownership
Marketing, as a function, generally assumes ownership of branding and messaging in general. But where employer branding is concerned, should recruiting teams take charge?
The right department to park ownership in may vary from company to company. You may need to consider several factors, such as the relative maturity of each function. In general, though, it’s ideal to have both functions influence your employer brand – regardless of which department assumes ownership.
This is because, by the nature of their work and goals, marketing teams typically have a stronger understanding of messaging. On the other hand, recruiting teams work directly with applicants and new talent, and therefore more clearly understand what appeals to candidates.
Thus, just how Sales and Marketing must align, Recruiting and Marketing too must settle on common ground. Sales teams feed Marketing customer pain points and explain what appeals to prospects, and similarly, Recruiting can share the equivalent knowledge about applicants and prospective talent.
Marketing can then amplify the message, assist HR with content strategy and content creation, and help tailor the messaging across channels. Of course, achieving this alignment between functions is a possibly challenging, and likely gradual, process,. But if you’re committed to humanizing your employer branding, these initiatives are essential.
Tech companies that pulled off “human” employer brands
Here are some tech companies that are killing it with their employer branding..
HubSpot is one of the biggest providers of customer relationship management (CRM) software. The company has strong brand awareness, largely thanks to its substantial investment in content marketing. But did you know that HubSpot is also known for its excellent employer brand?
The company topped the larger employer category of GlassDoor’s Best Places to Work 2020 US (employee’s choice) and is known for its diverse, people-first culture. At HubSpot, employees are encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives, work autonomously, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Unsurprisingly, many employees are strong advocates for HubSpot’s employer brand.
HubSpot also lets employees keep non-traditional hours and offers them unlimited vacation days, offering a rare level of flexibility.
Salesforce is a tech giant that has won awards for being an excellent workplace and for its emphasis on employee wellbeing. Just out some of their recent wins (source):
At Salesforce, employees report feeling safe in the workplace – both physically and mentally. They don’t feel discriminated against and are empowered to share their ideas and contribute to the company’s vision. Salesforce also makes its employees feel welcomed and provides them with learning opportunities to grow professionally.
It’s the perfect example of leading your employer brand with value.
SAP is a German multinational company that specializes in enterprise software for managing businesses and customer relationships. It’s best known for its industry-leading enterprise resource planning software, and SAP has also bagged awards for its excellent employer brand.
SAP’s employer brand is built around listening to employees and going the extra mile to take action based on their feedback. SAP also encourages employees to be authentic, which is crucial for growing employee advocacy. The tech giant even has a dedicated employer brand channel, #LifeAtSAP, for nurturing young talent in universities.
In summary, the core of a powerful employer brand is rooted in genuine value – your company's deep-seated values and commitment to creating an enriching experience for employees. To elevate your employer brand, it's essential for your company to embody these fundamental values.
For recruiters, this strategy includes a focus on skills-based hiring and regular skills assessments. This approach not only attracts talent but also ensures that new hires align with the company's needs and culture.
Showcase the stories of employees who have grown and succeeded in your company, emphasizing how skills development and assessment have played a role in their journey. By highlighting these aspects, you communicate to potential candidates that your company is not just a workplace, but a place where their skills are recognized, assessed, and developed.
Remember, creating a successful employer brand goes beyond just words. It's about demonstrating that your company is a supportive environment where employees can grow, contribute meaningfully, and feel a sense of belonging based on their skills and potential.