Employer Branding

5 Things People Get Wrong About Employer Branding

When most companies decide to invest in employer branding, their primary focus is on hiring. After all, a good employer brand tells the right prospective employees why they should love working at the company. But if that’s your only aim, you’re missing out on the many ways in which a great employer brand can help you:

  • Attract talent that belongs in your organization. A good employer brand will always attract talent. But a great one will attract the people who belong in your organization because a great employer brand is authentic and honest about its culture, work style, general employee behaviors and expectations, and other qualities that make it unique. People who find those qualities attractive and can see themselves in your culture will likely fit well within the organization. Likewise, people who do not see themselves as belonging within the organization are unlikely to apply.
  • Keep existing employees engaged and inspired. Great employer brands have messages for employment candidates – but they don't stop there. They weave the employer brand into internal programs and communications, reminding employees of how they create, reflect and amplify the brand every day, bringing it to life. When the employer brand actively highlights all the best things about working for the company, it can – and should – do a lot. Think energized team members, stronger loyalty, and a reinforced desire to grow with you.
  • Maintain positive perceptions for prospects – even if they don’t join the company. When you have a compelling employer brand, you're likely to attract more candidates than you can hire. That's why we recommend extending your employer brand to the whole engagement experience, up to and including rejection communications. For instance, let's say you maintain a culture of communication and collaboration. You'll want to communicate with candidates in ways that reflect that. Be clear and timely so they never feel ghosted. Offer feedback – and ask for feedback on their experience, too. Help them stay connected, and you’ll help keep them interested in future opportunities with you.
  • Maintain positive perceptions for employees – even when they leave. Former employees often rate as the most trusted resource for employment candidates. Why? They know the employment experience – and since they no longer work there, they have no reason to sugar-coat their opinions. That's why the best employer brands create positive experiences for people as they leave the company (whether voluntarily or not). Many even maintain "alumni organizations" that keep former employees connected to the organization and each other. This type of engagement can create new relationships with the company’s former employees. It can even help re-attract former team members who have acquired new capabilities elsewhere.
  • Celebrate and reinforce your external brand. A company’s internal and external brands are rarely identical. But they should be aligned to reflect each other. After all, since your external or consumer brand impacts customers at every point of engagement, your employees' words and actions matter. Beyond that, when people feel good about where they work, it creates a direct, positive expression of the external brand.

There’s so much to say about employer brands – what makes them great, how to build and reinforce them, when to evaluate and update them, and more – that we could write a book. Oh wait – we did! It’s a guide to employer brand development – complete with insights, information, and worksheets to help you along the way. Want one for your business? We’ve saved a copy for you right here. Consider it our gift to you – no obligation – a little taste of the knowledge and expertise we bring to our clients every day.


2023 Marketing Trends

The Marketing Trends Shaping 2023

Over the past year, companies have been learning to thrive in a world that is, in many ways, remarkably different than one from two years ago. The ways we conduct business is changing and becoming more virtual. The brands of today are not the ones of yesterday, and few organizations have survived the past few years without changing their marketing operations and strategies. While the pace of change shows no sign of slowing, we’re taking this opportunity to pinpoint a few of the more impactful developments we’ve seen over the past year which we’re confident will continue to remain relevant in 2023.

Urgent Deadlines

In 2022, deadlines shortened–considerably. You’ve felt it yourself: the overwhelming urgency from clients who need their work now. In the wake of technological advancements and a global pandemic, many companies have found the need to pivot or modify their business and branding in a timely manner. This requires marketers–especially inhouse marketing departments and their agencies–to adapt with more intentional workflows that enable quicker and more efficient response to client needs. Project management tools like Teamwork can help swamped agencies stay ahead of deadlines, and we highly recommend daily communication and task reporting, so team members stay up to date on deliverables.

Video Ads Continue to Dominate Social Media

Across all social media platforms, we’ve seen consistent data confirming that video ads hold interest for longer and generate more clicks than static ads. If you’re looking to communicate to a customer base in 2023, the shift to incorporate more video content is essential to remaining relevant in the market. Video content creation tools like Canva, and the advanced Adobe Premiere, can help create and edit high quality videos. Today’s consumers are also more comfortable than ever before with user generated content like product reviews and unboxing videos featured on Instagram and Tik-Tok and other social media platforms.

Authentic Communications

We’ve spoken before about the growing importance of authenticity in marketing. More and more, consumers want to interact with like-minded people and brands. It’s vital that agencies learn to communicate to their target audience in a way that feels real and authentic. Influencer and consumer-generated marketing continues to pay dividends, and cultural savvy is a must-have for brands looking to generate a buzz with the customers of today.

Disruptive Branding and Anti-Branding

Many consumers have grown tired of flat corporate art styles and branding that feels overly glossy and salesy. We’ve seen companies switch from overly produced marketing emails to simple communications that feel minimally designed. In other sectors, some companies have embraced asymmetrical lettering and packaging, such as Absolut Vodka bottles intentionally spattered with paint.

As the business world transforms around us, these marketing trends are signposts for the new era. While surprises no doubt live on our collective horizon, we are transitioning into 2023 excited for change and prepared to thrive.


10 Ways to Improve Your Employer Brand

 


At Relish Marketing, our fusion of creative and strategy unlocks your brand and propels it forward. Savor your brand. View our employer branding client work. Work with  us! Contact here.

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employer branding

Employee Branding Matters

In an age of online talent acquisition systems, 24/7 social media presence and independent sites such as Glassdoor and Linked In where prospective employees learn about and rate a company, it is more critical than ever that companies take stock of their employer brand.

The investment in employer branding seems to pay off for those who make it as:

  • 90% reported improvements retaining current employees, increased engagement and job satisfaction, and more success at attracting good candidates
  • 72% believed that branding led to improved business results [1]

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to have a strong employer brand is the cost per hire. A strong employer brand reduces turnover by 28% and cost per hire by 50%. [1]

To get results, employer branding must tell a compelling story about a company’s culture, values and the opportunities for advancement. Strong employer branding uses three tried and true storytelling rules.

Find your Voice. The voice of an employer brand is an element of the overall company brand. Make sure the brand voice is echoed in the employer promise and will help job seekers understand the company’s values, tone and culture.

Show. Don’t Tell. Telling a prospective employee that this company is a great place to work is about as compelling as telling a reader that this is a very sad moment. In employer branding where websites and social media are the tools of the trade, showing means going beyond text and incorporating captivating images and video.

Make every word work hard. In a world where attention spans and screens have grown smaller, the fewer words the better. Every word that is used must contribute something important to the employer promise and must speak to the applicant and employee.

Without the right people in the right places, a company cannot succeed. It only makes sense to invest in a strong employer brand to attract – and retain – the right talent.

[1] G2 Employer Branding Study, 2020


Are You Bold Enough to Lean Into Truly Inspirational Brand Marketing?

Have you ever found yourself so stirred, so inspired by a piece of bold, creative collateral or advertising that you saved a direct mail piece or bookmarked it online – and kept it for months or even years? Your answer might be “never.” Inspirational branding strategies and creative don’t happen often. And, in many ways, they shouldn't because it would be weird if every single piece of communication connected with deep meaning or emotion.

That said, when it does happen, it’s remarkable.

A Catalog Worth Saving

It happened to me in 2018. An REI catalog arrived in the mail, and the cover alone struck me. Edge to edge, it listed the negative things that women hear – often in conjunction with their ability to be athletes or lovers of the outdoors. And, every single one of them was crossed out. Then inside, I found story after story of women thriving and succeeding in outdoor endeavors.

Make no mistake – this was also a catalog of apparel and gear. But It read like a manifesto of women in the outdoors and allowed the company to champion its Force of Nature initiative to advance gender equity. I saved the catalog and referred to it often, just to relive the powerful experience of discovering it for the first time. And, as it happened, that experience solidified my loyalty to the company as my resource for sports and outdoors purchases.

A Commercial with Millions of Repeated Views

More often, we see this kind of compelling, stirring, sticky approach in video advertising. Take this Samsung commercial – one of India's most viewed videos of 2017. It tells the simple story of a Samsung repairman struggling to reach a distant location to repair a television. After weathering storms and collapsed roads, he finally arrives at his destination… only to discover that it is a hostel for the blind. Still, he graciously fixes the television and sits with his sightless customers as they tune in to a singing competition.

The ad delivers a satisfying emotional experience that connects to the company and its commitment to customers in a unique, highly memorable way. Even now, four years later, thousands of people are still tuning in to see it.

What Makes These Daring Ideas Work?

The REI catalog and the Samsung ad don’t feel like ordinary marketing communications, which means that the decision to create them was risky. They might have been deemed failures if their execution hit the wrong emotional notes or completely ignored essential marketing messages. Likewise, had the companies allowed the comfort of their traditional sales come-ons and aggressive calls to action to eat into the power of these daring communications, they would have come and gone, as so many do. But that's not what happened. By bravely focusing on the humanity of their audiences and showing that their brands understand and cater to often invisible, unique perspectives, these communications not only succeeded but transcended their media.

We’re working with one of our clients right now to create a similarly powerful experience in a significant piece of their collateral. It isn't done yet, so we can't show it to you. But we believe it rethinks how the company's target audience is seen – and maybe even how they see themselves. Stay tuned.


Thriving After the Labor Shortage: What’s Next for America’s Employers

Is your company understaffed? Do you know someone at an organization that is hiring? Odds are you answered yes to one of these questions. That’s because America is facing a labor shortage the likes of which haven’t been seen for a long time. The length and ramifications of this crisis have been topics of serious debate for employers and employer brand marketers.

In an article from the New York Times, David Leonhardt analyzed the service worker shortage, what’s causing it, and what may come after. He discovered that thanks to pandemic stimulus packages and a soaring housing market, Americans are flush with cash (at least for the moment). Who can blame them for avoiding the low wages and inflexible hours of the past?

Leonhardt’s analysis may seem grim to retail and other service-driven, public-facing businesses. However, at Relish, we believe it suggests a genuine opportunity for employers to stand out from the pack and thrive.

Employee Retention in 2021 and Beyond

Today’s employment challenges have led some sectors to adopt new, employee-friendly business strategies. The healthcare and hospitality industries, in particular, have raised wages significantly to try to lure back employees. Similarly, some companies are seeing success by increasing benefits and training opportunities.

That said, while it’s easy to recognize the appeal of competitive pay and benefits, we at Relish have identified other strategies that are just as important. Take communications, for example. You can offer the best health insurance on the market, but if no one is aware, that benefit won’t attract prospects.

Now more than ever, people care who they work for. If your corporate culture is distinguished by a commitment to growth, development, and opportunity, you have to meet your ideal candidates with fresh, authentic employer branding that effectively communicates those differentiators.

The Post-Labor Shortage Economy

The American labor shortage is not sustainable. Eventually the money from stimulus packages will dry up and Americans will have to return to the offices, kitchens, and factories they happily vacated. Leonhardt predicts that tomorrow’s workers may return to find conditions worse than before, due in part to the decline of labor unions in the face of corporate consolidation.

It’s a dire prediction – but it’s also an opportunity if your brand can shine by comparison, like a beacon beckoning in the returning workforce.

Building a Business that Lasts

It’s no secret that America is facing a labor shortage. But the solutions aren’t secrets either. Treating employees with respect and humanity is one piece of the puzzle. Building a rock-solid employer brand to attract and retain talent is another.

If the employment crisis has been weighing on your mind, we’re eager to help identify solutions that grow brands and launch them into the future.


Want to Engage Employees? One Factor Makes the Difference

“It’s less expensive to keep an employee than to hire a new one.”

This long-held business maxim about hiring vs. retention is almost cliché by now. But the truth is that the costs of hiring a new employee exceed the costs of engaging and retaining current employees by a tremendous amount. According to a CAP study, the average cost of hiring new employees can range from 16 to 213 percent of their annual salaries.

Why so much?  Think recruiting expenses, interview time, and training. Then consider the impact of personnel changes on team productivity, interpersonal dynamics, and morale. Now, add in the fact that since so many jobs can be done remotely, employment is no longer tied to location – which makes competition for new talent more intense than ever. It all adds up. By contrast, employer branding and employee engagement efforts are far less expensive – if they connect to the one thing all successful retention efforts share.

The #1 Employee Engagement Success Factor

The number of ways to connect with your employees and show that you value them are virtually endless. For instance, you can:

  • Check-in one-on-one with employees to hear concerns and celebrate accomplishments.
  • Send team members thoughtful gifts or cash bonuses for significant achievements.
  • Create videos featuring employees to celebrate big wins and achievements.
  • Recreate in-office perks for employees working from home. For instance, if your in-office tradition included “Friday morning bagels,” reimburse breakfast purchases once a week.
  • Give employees a universal day off for self-care.
  • Offer the occasional no-pressure “happy hour” online. At the same time, recognize the realities of “Zoom Fatigue” and give your people breaks from being “always on-air.”

They’re all great ideas. But the success of these efforts will always hinge on one crucial component: How authentically they map to the organization’s internal work culture.

Why Culture Matters – and How to Make Yours Better

If your culture reinforces appreciation for employees as people, making them feel that they belong, gestures of gratitude will reinforce that culture, reminding employees why they love working there. If the day-to-day work experience is cold, impersonal, or insecure, however, no words or gestures – no matter how creative, heartfelt, or elaborate they are – will hit home.

Which sounds like your company – the warm, appreciative culture or the chilly, disconnected one? Either way, we’ve identified five things you can do to improve.

  1. Clarify your employer brand. Be clear about who you are, what you value, and why you exist as an organization. Successful employer branding depends on how well your employees' expectations match the reality of working for your company.
  1. Recognize that your people are actually, you know, people. We used to talk about “work-life balance.” Now, with so many of us working from home, it’s closer to “work-life integration.” Children, pets, and other life components naturally intersect with the workday. So, enable the flexibility your people need to be present in their lives AND meet their jobs' demands.
  1. Encourage, recognize and reward contributions. If you want to empower employees to work hard for your company, be clear about your expectations, recognize how their work contributes to the company's success, and reward those successes with praise and, when appropriate, tangible compensation in the form of time or money.
  1. Build teamwork and trust. No one works well when they feel unduly scrutinized or if petty conflicts discourage effective collaboration. Celebrate teamwork, identify and resolve conflicts quickly and fairly, and avoid any appearance of “playing favorites” among your employees.
  1. Listen up! Solicit your employees' opinions in ways that neither punish criticism nor reward flattery. Your people have perspectives on your business that may differ from your own – but are no less valid. Ask for honest feedback – and respond when they offer opportunities for improvement.

You probably can tell - employer branding and employee engagement are a passion for us at Relish Marketing. If they're important to you, too – we'd love to hear about your challenges, your successes, and what you aim to achieve next. Drop us a note or call and let’s make a difference together.

 


Employee Value Proposition, EVP, employer brand, employer branding, COVID19

Who needs an employee value proposition? You do – especially now.

In today’s uncertain times, having a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand may be more critical to your business success than ever before. Even if you’re not actively hiring right now – or are even focusing your attention on layoffs and pay reductions – defining and managing your EVP is essential as you work to shepherd your business through a global pandemic. After all, you need your current workforce to remain committed and loyal to your business. And, as businesses regain strength after COVID-19, a well-defined EVP and employer brand will help you attract, hire and retain the people you need to take your organization forward.

EVP versus employer brand

Let’s start with a couple of definitions. Your EVP is an internal strategic articulation of what the business provides to – and expects from – employees. Your employer brand brings that value proposition to life for candidates, new hires and longtime employees.

An EVP without an employer brand is dry and won’t resonate with everyone it should. And an employer brand without an EVP is an empty promise. In other words, you should have both. Success starts with a clear EVP, which can help you:

  • Provide focus and clarity about your company’s purpose and culture.
  • Attract the right people with the right talent necessary for the business to move forward.
  • Align your talent initiatives with corporate strategy (and therefore reinforce it).
  • Crystalize what people should understand about your corporate culture.

How to start the process of developing an EVP

There’s no such thing as a quick guide to a process that, by definition, is complex and nuanced. But we do want to offer some helpful guidance because the process of developing an EVP can shine a light on opportunities for internal improvements. Not all processes are the same, and you should be cautious about trying to develop your EVP internally. Like trying to put out a fire from inside a burning building, it’s possible – but it helps to bring in some outside perspective and expertise. If you try to gather insights from your employees, they may be so uncomfortable sharing anything less than “ideal” that all you get is an echo of what employees think that leadership wants to hear. In other words, you may not get the kind of accurate input you need.

Of course, not all processes are the same, nor is every process right for every organization. When choosing a partner to help you with your employer brand, here are a few questions to ask – and answers to look for:

  • How have you helped others develop their employer brands? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? Seek substantial experience helping multiple clients in multiple industries. Listen for what potential partners consider to be a challenge, as well as the capabilities and demeanor they bring to achieving resolution.
  • Our biggest recruitment/hiring/retention issue right now is [insert issue here]. Will the EVP you help us develop overcome that? The right EVP partner will help you address critical issues, especially those related to gaps between what candidates and employees expect and the experience you deliver as an employer. They’ll also show you how elevating your EVP just enough can help you pull your workforce from its current state toward who and where you want to be, in a way that’s more than talk.
  • What should we expect from your EVP development process? Look for a thorough process that gathers and analyzes input and insights, not only from executives, but also from multiple people representing multiple levels of your organization, as well as current candidates and former employees. At the same time, you want to be sure that the process will deliver results in a way that doesn’t waste your time.
  • What metrics does your process include? How will you help us evaluate effectiveness and resonance with our key audiences? The best EVPs can be backed up by research. And, you want a partner who will stand by their work, helping you test messages and make adjustments to get it right.

The importance of reevaluating your EVP (at the right time)

When you live and breathe your EVP every day, it can be tempting to want to update or “freshen it up” after a year or so. Be careful before you give in to that impulse. Consistency is critical to help audiences truly grasp your EVP over time. Even in unusual times like these, we recommend that companies do what they can to remain true to EVPs that have helped attract and retain employees who are loyal company advocates.

That said, while a well-crafted EVP should be robust enough to provide clear employer branding direction for three to five years, today’s times may be disruptive enough to warrant an update. Likewise, you’ll want to revisit your EVP and employer brand if you’re experiencing other major disruptions such as:

  • Significant changes in corporate structure (i.e., acquisitions, new leadership).
  • Industry changes (such as those that might dictate a shift from a manufacturing model to a service model).
  • A past problem on which you’re making significant progress (i.e., surveyed employees have illuminated an issue).
  • Competitive threats (i.e., they have a better, more attractive EVP than you and are winning away talent).
  • Competitive opportunities (i.e., you have a better, more attractive EVP, but not enough people recognize it).

Bottom line: Whether you’re striving to keep your current employees engaged or you’re looking ahead to new workforce needs, the right EVP can help you stack the deck in your favor.

 

*Adapted from the article by Relish Marketing President, Pam Willoughby for the Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust.


Maintaining Corporate Culture in a Crisis

Employer Branding in the Time of COVID-19

Today's coronavirus crisis has most of us trying to work productively from home, manage a distributed workforce and keep business alive. It's a lot to balance – which means that you might rank Employer Branding low on the priorities list. That would be a mistake. Yes, your employer brand should attract applicants and inspire them to accept offers. But great employer brands also keep employees inspired and motivated over time. They drive former employees to remain loyal advocates for the company, too. And if ever there were a need for inspiration and loyal advocacy, it's now.

For many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating that corporate culture was never limited only to the human resources department – or even only to the office. And that realization is important for several reasons:

  • Employees are likely worried about whether business will continue strongly enough to keep them employed.
  • Insecurity reigns, with people scrutinizing everything from the nuances of expressions during Zoom calls to what others are saying offline.
  • Layoffs are happening – if not to your team members, then certainly to people they know, which intensifies anxieties.
  • Applicants may be feeling unsure about their status and whether the job still exists.
  • New hires probably wonder if work they signed on for is what they’ll actually be doing.
  • Finally – and don’t kid yourself about this part – your employees are probably using some of this time to figure out what’s next for them when normalcy returns – and whether it will involve your company at all.

In short: your employees need some consistent reassurance. And they need it from you.

We get it.  When changes in your business, your industry, the country and the world occur on nearly an hour-by-hour basis, it’s hard to craft perfect employee communications. Forget about perfect and instead go for regular, open and honest. Think about the hallmarks of your corporate culture and how you can continue to reinforce them. Ask yourself: How has the experience of working for the company changed, and what can you do to keep its hallmarks consistent for your employees?

Consider what we’ve started doing at Relish. Every Friday afternoon, we set up a Zoom meeting – not to discuss business specifically, but just to share stories and laugh together with some snacks and beverages of our choosing, as we often did on any given Friday in the office. Or, take a cue from Inc. Magazine (where – full disclosure – my son, Cameron, is a reporter). Inc.’s publishing company had long provided bagels for all staff members on Fridays. The company’s leaders realized that the tradition would be missed, so they instituted a way to keep the practice going – basically paying for all employees to order bagels on Fridays from any local shop that would deliver. Cameron affirms that the breakfast treats are much appreciated. However, the feelings of warmth and connection that those bagels engender are what the company is really bringing home to its team members and their families.

If you still feel like employer branding needs to take a back seat to other, more pressing needs, we’ve got your back. Call us and let’s bounce around some ideas about current challenges, branding and communications. We may be able to help. Regardless, if you use this time to solidify your employer brand and communicate it well, you’ll deliver some powerful support to your employees through the current crisis as well as after it ends.