How to Improve your Employer Brand by Leveraging Your Workforce

The existence of a proactive employer brand strategy appears to evade companies. As we established in our ebook, ‘Authentic Employer Branding: How to Make it Work with Storytelling’, 80% of talent leaders believe employer branding is a key driver of making quality hires, but only 50% of companies believe that their employer brand strategy adequately equips them to deliver one. So where’s the gap when it comes to execution of the employer brand?

You’re forgetting your most important employer branding resource—your existing diverse workforce. Allowing your employees to advocate on behalf of your company establishes credibility–the key to talent acquisition .

With a growing body of research supporting the relationship between the employer brand and the attraction and retention of talent, the time to reassess your strategy is now. In this post, we’ll talk about all things employer branding—what it is, the issues you are facing, and how storytelling presents a means to weaponize your workforce to boost the value and authenticity of your employer brand.

What is Employer Brand?

Employer brand is defined as the way that employers differentiate themselves from competitors within their sector in order to meet their talent attraction goals. The employer brand is seen as a critical way to make headway in talent acquisition, engagement, and retention. Key to its delivery, is a clear connection with the company’s values and its consistency when played out in practice; essentially, does the employer brand really follow through with its promises to employees?

The Issue with Employer Branding Today

The career website is the root of the problem when it comes to the employer brand. This content platform inadvertently disconnects the corporate brand and the core drivers of the business—the employees. Often times, employers rely on superficial perks, like ping-pong or beer on tap, which are largely separate from any larger strategic purpose. The employer brand needs to grow out of the companies’ established corporate brand. What does this mean? The corporate brand needs to focus on building out an arm that incorporates talent rather than, separating them.

And you need to think about the motivation behind your talent acquisition attempts. Appreciate the key qualities, behaviours, and motivations that a company wants to see in its diverse workforce, and use these as the basis of your employer brand. By revamping your key talent criteria from predominantly technical skills, and shifting to also include teamwork, empathy, and an external focus, these characteristics became fundamental elements of the new organisational brand and as such, communicate to prospective candidates that you value the employee over the business bottom line. And providing the correct content is the means to achieve this.

The most intuitive place for candidates to research your company—and in the process, learn about the employer brand—is the career page. But it fails to shed light on the issues that candidates are seeking answers to. In fact, 57% of candidates reported thatcompanies didn’t share content like key day-in-the-life information on their careers site–a clear content gap. Our research on the candidate experience revealed that candidates seek value over efficiency when on their candidate experience journey.

So, how do you communicate value? By addressing two key areas—the content and the persuasion gaps.

The content gap refers to the absence of compelling information from the career site. Your key corporate messages may be addressed, but your candidates’ concerns are not. For example, women candidates want information on women’s networks and working arrangements that can support their family obligations. Equally, BAME applicants face substantial barriers to entry and social conditioning and seek out confirmation that hiring practices are inclusive. They may want to know if day-to-day experiences are bias-free if there is the potential for individual sponsorship, whether blind screening takes place and if interview panels are diverse. In other words, candidate-driven content should dominate your career site and your recruitment collaterals.

The persuasion gap refers to how the information on your careers page is presented. Corresponding with a faceless HR staff member via the generic ‘careers@corporateemail.com’ account does not authentically sell your employer brand.

Candidates want to engage with someone they can resonate with–a person that they can trust to give them real answers to the questions they are asking.

Both the content and persuasion gaps that are hindering your employer brand can be fixed by leveraging your workforce. Keep reading for our tips.

Learn how storytelling works for employer branding and talent attraction in our eBook on Diversity Recruiting now

Use Storytelling to Improve your Employer Branding Strategy

Employer branding through storytelling will drive conversion. Through stories told by your employees, you establish the authenticity of your employer brand by sealing the content gap. Stories are persuasive as they are better remembered, develop a character affinity which is carried to the brand, triggers emotions which drive decisions and are inherently more persuasive as they encourage the reader to figure out what actions to take, or conclusions to arrive at. In the research conducted with Immersion Neuroscience and Citi, as well as in our own survey of candidates who participated in Live Chat events with Citi in 2017, we determined that:

  • 95% of candidates thought the content generated by authentic content, namely employee stories, was highly relevant.
  • 77% of candidates reported that their impression of the company improved after reading employee stories
  • 98% of candidates indicated that they planned to apply to Citi after interacting with employees during the live chat

How can you incorporate your employee narratives into your talent attraction strategy?

To improve chances of widening your talent pool and becoming “employer of choice,” many leading brands have produced compelling narratives that are at the core of their employer branding. A purpose-driven story can educate, entertain, convince, and inspire—all in just minutes—especially when great digital storytelling techniques are used.

Storytelling in Action – Best Practice

Accenture’s #InclusionStartsWithI Campaign from 2017 demonstrated their transparency by helping its employees share their diversity-related issues in the workplace; and they achieved scale by delivering these stories in a shareable video. Their employer branding strategy was subsequently bolstered as both Diversity Inc. and Fortune covered this campaign positively which in turn showed candidates how they are doing against diversity goals.

Since Generation Z and Milllenials (the biggest sub-group of the talent pool) alike prioritise diversity, doubling down efforts to address the topic is your prerogative. So the stories you tell need to come from a variety of employee sources; they build the authenticity—a sense of realness, if you will—of the employer brand as they the stories that are generated are a far cry from the bog-standard scripted testimonials that flood the HR space.

Through transparency, honesty, and a communication strategy that leveraged employee-generated content, Accenture delivered an employer branding approach that delivered effectively.

But what makes a story persuasive?

According to our own analysis of over 100,000 stories across the PathMotion platform and research conducted by the Wharton Business School, a persuasive story should have five characteristics.

  1. Narrative – An arc to the story drives expectation and tension.
  2. Authenticity – Stories should communicate a tangible, real-life experience
  3. Detail – The devil is in the details! Details drive the compelling nature of a good story
  4. Meaningful challenges – Key hurdles that the employee faces and how they were able to overcome them, creates tension and adds to that narrative arc.
  5. Practical tips – These address the questions candidates are posing, providing steps that can be realised and achieved.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all, generic approach to career page content, creating a bank of targeted and bespoke employee statements gives your company a way to improve your employer brand in real-time.

A Note on Incorporating Brand Elements When Telling Stories

The line between employer brand and corporate brand is blurred. Candidates may be drawn to your company’s product or service but serious interest in applying is inspired when they believe in the authenticity of the company culture. Your career page needs to reflect a happy medium of culture as well as product and company performance—particularly with regards to KPIs for workplace goals like diversity and gender balance.

Spreading Employee Advocacy to Unify the Employer Brand—Two-way Engagement

Employees have the power to influence prospects on social media and channels other than the career site including review platforms such as Glassdoor and Yelp. After all, Talent Board’s survey of job seekers revealed that 67% use social media to gain insights into company culture; in addition to the 64% of job seekers using the career sites as a top resource channel for researching new opportunities. The authentic appeal must not be lost however; stories communicated must reflect how employees truly felt about working at your company.

To improve the employer brand (both corporate and employer), make efforts to dial up your employee social media activity. Whatever channel you encourage your employees to use – Facebook Live, Live Chats, Live Streaming on YouTube – ensure that you are maximising its impact by delivering stories and engaging in two-way dialogue. We found that storytelling combined with real-time, two-way engagement delivers the most immersive experience. Subsequently, the employer value proposition (EVP) is communicated to potential employees who gain a clear picture of what benefits arise when working for your organisation.

In leveraging your employee advocates’ stories, you can address the content gap. The lack of authentic content on most career pages drives candidates to seek information from third parties resources. Research from CEB global shows that candidates find 80% of the information they use in assessing a potential employer from sources other than the company itself – which you have no control over. By providing engaging, persuasive stories across your own careers site and social media channels, you can regain control of your employer brand.

Read our eBook to find out how building an authentic employer brand is as simple as engaging your workforce—encouraging them to disseminate their stories at scale to communicate the realities of life in your company. With talent attraction and conversion at stake, you’d be remiss not to take us up on the offer.

Advocacy at Scale – Best Practice

A company dialling up their dialogue efforts at scale are Electronic Arts. The popular video game publisher focuses heavily on their employer brand, social media, and employees on social. In particular, they used the hashtag #WeAreEA, so that interested prospects could follow EA on their social networks and view the content that the employees and the brand disseminate.

In doing so, they ignited their global workforce and spread brand awareness of their work culture to audiences.

By using the Having employees create content and talk about the company they work for is a natural trend that feels right.

Effective storytelling isn’t necessarily what employer branding teams believe it is. Many careers sites use the same testimonial video format of employees talking about how good the company they work for are. However, the statements they make seem contrived—these testimonials aren’t persuasive. By allowing employees to unreservedly offer more detailed, meaningful stories, your employer brand is built in an authentic way. They are gripping enough that they are able to persuade the best-fit candidates to take action and apply for the role that they have been able to fully research. Instead of telling candidates who you are, you’re actively showing them—and they’ll be more likely to listen.

So, what are you waiting for? Pioneer the employer branding space with in-depth workforce profiles and a content—first talent attraction strategy.

If you want more information on how to improve your Employer Branding check out our first-of-its kind study that delves into the real-life example of the effectiveness of storytelling in HR, and how this approach worked for the multinational organisation.