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Employer Branding…Why we need to Rethink? 5 simple ways to Build One?

A close look at the graph revealed the acceptance rates of our offers made to candidates from competing Banks. During this review conducted at the start of January 2007 at Chennai, India, one figure which was extremely low, stood out for me. It instantly drew my attention, the name was HDFC Bank. So, what was so special about this Bank, which was making their employees refuse much better offers from their competitors? This question intrigued me and I kept on looking for answers through my research, field visits, talking to their current and former employees. I did not experience it first hand till the time, I got a call from their team for a vacant position in the HR Department.

I was doing well in my current role but their reputation as an employer had reached me much before this call and it made all the difference. As a young HR professional, I sometimes wondered how it would be like working for HDFC Bank much before this opportunity came knocking on my doors, such is the power of a strong employer brand.

Employer Brand: It is the image people have about the employment experience at your company.
When I finally decided to move on to start a new chapter, I was not disappointed one bit at all. There was great working environment, interesting challenges at hand, very accessible superiors and fantastic colleagues. Those were some of the best years of my life in terms of learning and where I met colleagues who became friends for life.

Should a company care about investing time and resources to build their employer brand consciously? Consider the fact that a strong Employer Brand:

Positions your company to attract top talent in a highly competitive market scenario.
Builds a good reputation about the company in the community.
Improves employee morale and reduces turnover with a direct impact on bottom line.
Lets understand some of the factors which make up an Employer Brand?

Unique Value Proposition: It is well known that if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone. The company should be clear as to who they want to attract as employees. Listen carefully to what matters to your current employees and why they chose to stay back. That is your Value Proposition.
Company Culture: Culture is the shared set of beliefs held by employees which is manifested in what and how things are done. There is a word of caution here. Nothing can damage a company’s reputation more than showcasing someone else’s culture to be their own, avoid making that mistake.
Strong Candidate Experience: It’s the third aspect of a strong employer brand. How is the experience of candidates who come in your contact? Irrespective of the selection result, the way a candidate is made to feel during the entire selection process builds or breaks the employer brand.
Having understood Why is it important, let’s look at How we can build a strong Employer Brand in 5 simple steps?

Competitive Salary and Benefits: Are you one of those who think that without paying competitive salaries and benefits, we can create a strong Employer Brand? Think again. Of course, your current and prospective employees expect to take home enough to have their basic needs met. As the company takes care of all the basic needs, this would enable the employees to focus on giving their best without such worries.
Be Honest: As a company you should be clear about who you are, what do you stand for and that should come out in how you treat your employees. We should talk about the stories of the company’s journey. Authentic stories which are shared with passion, which are a reflection of the company’s image, would help build a strong emotional bond with people who come in touch with the company.
Connect the Dots: Just imagine the results if a company fails to connect the dots between Why, How & What? It would mean you may have all the right intentions to build a credible employer brand, have everything written on paper but it is 30,000 feet apart from what is actually being practiced on the ground. Whether you need to remove or change certain policies and practices, create some new ones, keep the focus on ensuring that leaders, managers and everyone else practices what you claim to the outside world on a daily basis. If it does, believe me, you would be surprised to see the positive results.
Employees as Brand Ambassadors: All of it actually starts with your own employees. Look closely as how the current employees experience your employer brand. Listen to their stories of what keeps them going. These are the people who can give you the best possible insight on what is working and what needs to be tweaked to make their experience even better. Remember, employees who know that their leaders have their backs, feel heard and supported, would give back to their colleagues and the organisation in innumerable terms.
Communicate your Employer Brand: Once you have got all the other pieces of the puzzle together, it’s time to go out in the world and talk about it. Wait a minute, but where exactly you would go and talk about it. Exactly, we must carefully select the platforms and media which is consumed by our prospective employees. Look at your social media handles, your website, your you tube channel and ensure your message consistently goes out through all your company wide branding initiatives. This would help more and more of your target audience to pause and think about your company.
Conclusions: In today’s day and age a strong Employer Brand has huge competitive advantages, whether you are a Start-Up, an MSME, an MNC or a large Listed company. It not only allows the company to stand out of the crowd and enhance its industry reputation but also ensures that right talent is attracted to the organisation. As the company has to take all the right steps in the process of creating an employer brand, it ultimately leads to higher employee morale and encourages them to give back their best to the company.

What are your thoughts? Why do you think a company needs to have a strong employer brand? Which are some of the other ways in which it can be built? Please do comment and share your views.

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