An employer brand is an important part of the employee value proposition and is essentially what the organization communicates as its identity to both potential and current employees. It encompasses an organization’s mission, values, culture and personality. A positive employer brand communicates that the organization is a good employer and a great place to work. Employer brand affects recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market.
Definition - What is Employer Brand
Your employer brand is, essentially, the image that you project both to employees within your company and potential employees outside your organization. Crucially, it is the image you project as a place to work, meaning that it should say something about your company’s mission and values, but also about what makes it a unique employment destination worth applying to or even changing jobs for. Think of this as a story that you tell to prospective and current employees alike — a story in which your target demographics see themselves reflected and from which they can draw inspiration.
One of the most important things to remember about your employer brand is that while it may complement your customer-facing brand, it is a distinct entity. For example, if you were a large, prestigious tech company, your outward facing brand might be focused on innovative products and solutions, but your employer brand would specifically focus on highlighting your business as a place for serious engineers to work on important challenges with the support of considerable institutional resources and internal tools. In this way, you begin to give prospective candidates a narrative that they can latch onto. If that narrative appeals to them, they may one day find themselves submitting a job application.
Crucially, employer branding isn’t a nebulous concept, but rather a discrete set of actions that you take on an ongoing basis. If you have an employer brand, but no one ever sees it, does it really exist? Not so much. Rather, it’s something that only becomes actualized as you craft and disseminate content on social media, your website, and elsewhere that conveys your message. If your employer brand is especially powerful, you may find that some of your employees will help spread it through word of mouth and via their own social media presence. Not only does your employer brand come to life through this type of content, but it also becomes the first touch on a recruitment funnel that will hopefully encourage qualified applicants to apply for positions with your company.
Origin of Employer Branding
The term "employer brand" was first publicly introduced to a management audience in 1990, and defined by Simon Barrow, chairman of People in Business, and Tim Ambler, Senior Fellow of London Business School, in the Journal of Brand Management in December 1996. This academic paper was the first published attempt to "test the application of brand management techniques to human resource management". Within this paper, Simon Barrow and Tim Ambler defined the employer brand as "the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company". By 2001, of 138 leading companies surveyed by the Conference Board in North America, 40% claimed to be actively engaged in some form of employer branding activity. In 2003, an employer brand survey conducted by the Economist among a global panel of readers revealed a 61% level of awareness of the term "employer brand" among HR professionals and 41% among non-HR professionals. The first book on the subject was published in 2005, and the second in 2006. In 2008, Jackie Orme, the Director General of the UK Chartered Institute of Personnel Directors confirmed the growing status of the discipline in her opening address to the CIPD annual conference, with the observation that: "When I started out in the profession, nobody talked about employer branding. Now it's absolutely integral to business strategy — resonating well beyond the doors of the HR department". Similar recognition of the growing importance of employer brand thinking and practice has also been recently in evidence in the USA, Australia, Asia, and Europe, with the publication of numerous books on the subject.