With the hiring market heating back up, it’s increasingly likely you’re competing for your best candidates with several other hot local companies. While your daily catered lunches, employee softball team, casual dress code, and Xbox gaming nook used to be enough to set you apart from your traditional competition, these employee perks have become startup table stakes.
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders 2013 report reinforces this. “At the end of the day, an intrinsic connection to one’s work and one’s company is what truly drives performance, inspires discretionary effort, and improves wellbeing. If these basic needs are not fulfilled, then even the most extravagant perks will be little more than window dressing.”
“Having great products and healthy margins just isn’t enough anymore to be competitive and sustainable,” says Amelia Generalis, Head of Talent at Anaplan. “Companies, now more than ever, have to find ways to break out and showcase how and why they are different. For instance, giving back into the community–and more broadly the world– is a great way to show how you care. This is so important in a world where it’s so often all about the margins. We forget it’s actually all about making a difference. You can’t get until you give.”
Generalis also notes the importance of well-defined and clearly communicated company values as a point of differentiation. “This is a technique we call inside out and outside in,” she says. “What you see is what you get. The simplicity of the approach is what makes it so powerful. Finding those key core values and bringing them to ‘life’ is a key differentiator.“
Gallup research also reinforces the importance of a well-defined employer brand that connects how the work your employees do every day will make a meaningful contribution to their community and the company. Their research has found that employee engagement, across generational cohorts, is connected to having a strong sense of what the company stands for. Unfortunately, they’ve also found that “more than 3,000 randomly selected workers showed that only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors. “ This underscores the opportunity for your employer branding strategy to make a real impact.
“Branding for a company covers every aspect–not just product branding but also your people brand,” says Generalis. “At the heart of every organization you find it’s the talent that is making a difference every day. So, I really believe it’s critical to help everyone (and not just your customers) understand who you are and what’s most important to you. That’s where the people brand is front and center. It’s the back story that will make you stand out as THE place to be and make an impact.”
So what can you do to differentiate your company, get your employees onboard with your corporate mission, and spread the word about your employer brand? For many top employers, it’s sharing the voice of their employees through recruitment-oriented content in social channels.
Unilever is one example of companies tying corporate employee initiatives, in this case, their leadership development program, to their recruiting. Similarly, Shell promotes their women in technology initiative through video content, and additionally takes their employer branding down to the individual level on their social media company pages by selecting recruitment efforts back to individual employees whose quotes and photos are used as part of the recruitment process.
So, how do you get senior leaders onboard and engaged with your employer brand on social channels?
“The world is at our fingertips these days,” says Generalis. “Every media channel is available and gets used one way or the other. For senior leaders, we want to find ways to share with the world who they are as leaders. It can be as simple as a quick social post, article, or blog on the company website to make sure they take time to share their unique viewpoint during webinars and interviews. Over time, senior leaders get more comfortable when they see that they are inspiring others to think different, be different, and make a difference.”
Putting your most engaged employees front-and-center in your employer branding strategy is your best way to share what makes your organization an inspiring and rewarding place to work. And it doesn’t take a huge budget to get that across. For a dose of inspiration, check out this great employer branding video by Hubspot:
What are some unique ways you’ve found to share your employer brand?
Erika Heald (@sferika) is a San Francisco-based content marketing and social media consultant, with over 15 years experience creating content for HR and financial services audiences. Photo Credit Gallup Engagement Report.
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