Outside the Box > Blog > Employer branding — making the case for keeping it real.

Employer branding making the case for keeping it real.

Katie Kaulius

The turnover tsunami. The great resignation. The employee exodus. Call it what you may, one thing is for certain—organizations across industries are finding it increasingly difficult to find (and keep) quality talent.

Employer branding—making the case for keeping it real.

And since we know that a compelling employer brand platform can be an invaluable tool for attraction and retention, it can be very tempting to paint the rosiest picture possible of your culture, your benefits, and your value as an employer.

But before you redline anything that’s less-than-positive, consider the importance of being honest about what it’s like to work for your company, and the type of talent you’re seeking. Because as it turns out, honesty really is the best policy.

Talent expects it.

Transparency isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’ for today’s talent, it’s an expectation. A non-negotiable. Especially as employees re-evaluate their relationship with work and look to align themselves with companies with shared values and priorities, it’s more important than ever to make sure that those things are front-and-center for the people you aim to attract and retain.

Millennial job seekers, in particular, prioritize authenticity—so much so that 75% say they would accept one job offer over another if one company was more transparent. So show them, and all of your talent demographics, that you value their time and attention enough to be thoughtful and direct about what you share.

This is true for the entire employee lifecycle, but can (and should) start with recruiting. Let’s take a look at Whole Foods’ career site, which has an entire section dedicated to their hiring process. In a couple of clicks a candidate can learn exactly what to expect after hitting ‘apply,’ read real tips from Whole Foods recruiters, browse Glassdoor reviews (without leaving the site!), and even know the exact in-store discount they can expect on their first day, and six months in. A comprehensive FAQs page expands on everything from benefits, to interviewing, and much more.

Offering certainty in a time of significant uncertainty can be a key differentiator, and can strengthen your bonds with candidates and employees.

Quality over quantity.

Far and away, the most common goal of an employer brand is to attract talent–especially in a tight labor market. So why should we celebrate an employer brand that does the opposite?

Counterintuitive as it may sound, an employer brand can help wrong-fit candidates opt out, just as it can help draw the right people in. It’s essentially your first line of screening before a job seeker even hits ‘apply’.

Once you acknowledge that your organization isn’t a fit for everyone, and present an honest picture of what it takes to thrive at your company, candidates will find themselves at a crossroads. The ones who identify with the values and expectations that you set forth will raise their hands. And the ones who don’t? They’ll probably pass. And that’s OK!

Say you’re a performance-driven organization that rewards going above and beyond, with a flat structure that empowers your people to make decisions and run with them. It’s fair to say that an employee who values hands-on mentorship and receiving clear direction is not going to feel at home with you. But self-starters who crave autonomy? You’ll be speaking their language. So lean into those aspects of your culture and workplace that you know may not appeal to everyone—knowing that it will help you attract the right kind of talent.

Prioritizing quality over quantity when it comes to your candidates will result in a thinner but healthier talent pipeline, one with more qualified leads. Your talent acquisition team will thank you.

Avoid the bait-and-switch 

Consistency is key when it comes to your employee and your candidate experience. 

An employer brand is at its most powerful when it telegraphs a clear, consistent message across the entire employee lifecycle. If your external employer brand is touting things that aren’t quite real, or omitting important information that doesn’t have broad appeal, this is going to be glaringly obvious once a candidate accepts that offer letter and transitions to the inside of your organization.

Your story to candidates has to reflect what they’ll experience when they become an employee. The risks are too great not to. An employee who feels they were promised a different reality just to get them in the door is very likely going to share their negative experience. And if they leave? Well, we’re all well aware of the costs of rehiring.   

So focus on painting a complete and authentic picture of what it means to join your organization. You’re more likely to get the right-fit employees in the door, and they’ll be more likely to stick around once their experience aligns with their expectations.

Transparency builds culture 

A recent, multi-year study by MIT Sloan Management Review revealed that the single best indicator of a company’s culture is respect, and specifically, whether employees feel respected at work. In fact, it over-indexes so greatly that respect is nearly 18 times more important than other, typical factors at predicting a company’s overall culture rating. Nothing comes close to having that great of an impact on culture—not leadership support, job stability, or even compensation and benefits. 

Of course, there are a whole host of ways to make employees feel respected and valued, but transparency is a huge component of respect. And an important one.

When you trust your people to understand what you’re doing as a business, you make them a partner versus a passenger in the course you’re charting. And your employer brand platform and related communications are the perfect vehicles for showing employees that you respect them enough to be real with them. 

So give candidates that all-important peek behind the curtain. Trust your employees with information about what’s on the horizon and what it means for them. 

Especially in a time when cultures are waning and people may feel disconnected from your culture, keeping it real can make people feel seen, valued, and connected.

Want to learn more about how to build a strong and successful employer brand?

Check out our free on-demand webinar:
Employer branding: Where to start, what to do, how to win.

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