The outward expression of an employer brand is the series of stories you tell to make your organization relevant and compelling to current and prospective employees.
Since we know what employees value in a job, a gig and employer, the task of employee branding is simple—with one big dependency—is the truth on your side?
There is no hiding anymore.
The people living your experience every day know the truth and aren’t afraid to share it. Glassdoor and Blind act as authenticity barometers to the outside world. Rightly or wrongly, people will tend to believe those sites more than your carefully curated Careers page or the recruiter with the finely-honed company story.
Focus on telling the true stories of your people and organization. And, do it in a compelling way to elicit pride from your current employees and invite curiosity from prospective ones.
If you don’t have the right stories to tell, spend your time, your effort and your limited people-related resources working on your employee experience.
Here are some of the stories employer brands should tell.
- The Story of Purpose
At this point, every company has at least given thought to why they exist and most have a defined purpose. It’s one thing to have a purpose statement. It’s another thing to live it. People want to know those stories.
- The Story of Values & Culture
Culture is the system of embedded behaviors that guide the everyday actions of the organization and its people. It’s a lot more than saying we have “great people” or “people really like each other”. Culture is a lot more than being nice and the stories you tell about it should reveal what matters and how you operate.
- The Story of Freedom & Flexibility
All employees can’t be the CEO, but they can be the CEO of their own work. Clear expectations, autonomy, support and responsibility are decidedly in and boost productivity. Offering employees a work schedule to fit with the trials, travel and seasons of life is gaining momentum. Freedom and flexibility are not just about allowing people to self-manage, but a direct symbol of trust extended from the organization to employees.
- The Story of Personal & Professional Growth
If the employees you really want to keep aren’t growing, they’ll leave. An organization can’t make people grow, but it can provide structure, opportunities and support for employees to move forward in building their skills and career as well as helping them grow as an individual.
- The Story of Community & World Impact
There is an expectation by employees that organizations do no harm in creating their products, services and experiences as well as take an active role in doing good for society. And, employees are expecting to have a role in making an impact themselves.
- The Story of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging
Diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging resonate loudly right now with employees (and hopefully forever). A commitment to diversity and gender and racially diverse photography on a career page means you are in the starting block. A good start, but what more are you doing?
- The Story of Well-Being
In most organizations, people are asked to do too much too fast. Creating boundaries remains hard and the present hustle culture adds guilt into the equation. Employees are struggling to take care of their needs while they attend to the requirements of their jobs. If the expectations are always-on availability, immediate response times and weekend work, tell that story and tell them why it will be worth it. If the story is about ebb-and-flow, limited weekend work and reasonable response times. Tell that one.
- The Story of Compensation & Benefits
Money matters. Tell how you view compensation beyond “we offer competitive pay” and what people can expect for lending their time, talent, passion and effort to the organization. To be clear, purpose and culture don’t pay the bills, nor should they be used as a mechanism to avoid paying employees what they are worth or offering meaningful benefits.
- The Story of Social Life
94.3%* of companies believe they are a fun place to work. Even while companies are on an endless quest for more and more productivity, employees want to experience joy at work. This comes in all forms and fashions, but there is an expectation that the scene at work should encompass inspiring, educational and social events—along with the time to actually enjoy them.
*Not a statistic supported by actual data.
- The Story of Place
This story isn’t about an Insta-perfect office with an Airstream conference room—although that would be pretty rad. Rather, how have you designed a place for people to do their best work, to foster connections and to offer built-in opportunities for people to enjoy where they spend a significant portion of their time?
- The Story of Perks
Swag doesn’t hurt. Neither does free lunch nor a climbing wall. Perks are like heated seats in a car—they’re nice, but won’t get you where you need to be. However, they feel good, can be a source of pride (and bragging rights with friends) and might be table stakes based on competitors for talent.
Where did you end up? Stories to tell, work to do, somewhere in-between? Regardless of what you have to share, make the right choices on behalf of employees—and the stories will tell themselves.
Read more from Mark.