In the mid 1990’s, people were talking about employment brands (EB). Mark Hornung, now the Director of Employment Branding at Teradata, was arguably the first. Throughout the 1990’s he helped very large organizations focus their recruiting efforts with professionalized messaging and audience targeting. In the past two decades, EB became a standard part of the Recruiting Department’s work.
There is a direct relationship between the rise of review sites and the increased emphasis on EB. When Hornung began to evangelize the idea, the company could more or less control the message. Today, employees are free to tell the world whatever they want. The websites that make their money publishing those reviews aggressively encourage employee reviews. Employers control of the message largely resides in the quality of the employee experience.
The EB, its position and message, create the foundation for competitive recruiting efforts. The scramble for talent intensifies with the passage of time. Demographics and technological change make it imperative that a company be clear about what it stands for; what it’s like to work there; where value emerges; and, who the company wants to hire.
Simply, the EB is a company’s reputation as a place to work. Three elements form the foundation: Current Employee Experience, The Way the Company Presents Itself as an Employer, The Perceptions of Prospective Employees, and Public Expressions of Employee Experience (Current and Alumni). The company controls the first two and influences the second pair.
Getting your employment brand right is a journey. It takes time. Here are the first steps you should take:
1) Get to Know The Review Sites By Monitoring Them Routinely
There are at least a dozen websites that allow and encourage employees to talk about what it’s like to work at your organization. Glassdoor, kununu, Yelp!, FairyGodBoss, CareerBliss, and Vault are among the best known. Visit the sites at least weekly to understand what is being said about working in your organization. Also, Google ‘working at (your company)’ to see the broad view. Social media sites often broadcast reviews. Monitor everything.
2) Understand What They Are Saying About You
It’s normal to have a strong defensive reaction to public criticism of your company. Today’s employees (and ex employees) now have public channels with which they can give their employers a performance evaluation. Be quick to see where they are right and slow to believe that they are wrong.
3) Ask, ‘What’s True? What’s Our Culture? What’s Changeable?’
Review sites have a tendency to broadcast negative sentiments. Still, getting the brand right begins with clearly understanding perception and its underlying cause. Reviews are always right from the perspective of the reviewer. Your job is to see where they are right and make decisions about its accuracy and your desire to change the perception.
4) Encourage All of Your Employees to Write Reviews
Unless there is something horribly wrong with your culture, it’s best to actively encourage employees to post reviews. The more reviews, the more they are likely to reflect the culture and environment. Help employees understand that you value the feedback and that you trust that public transparency is done in the interests of improving the company. Restraint based on the belief that employees want what’s best is the key to transparency and a strong reputation for fairness. Don’t do this if you can’t stand the feedback.
5) Begin Positively Communicating Your Story
Getting your message right takes time, research, and an investment in story telling vehicles. Your website, the employment section, your job ads and descriptions, the way you explain values, and your job ads form a communications platform. You can use it to influence the way that people see you.
Like it or not, EB is part of the contemporary communications ecosystem. These first steps open the door to a journey that will last for the rest of the company’s life. Mistakes are inevitable. The only fatal one is not getting started.
Be sure to check out our other articles to learn more.