In a world full of competition and opportunity, attracting and retaining the best talent requires more than a good product and a little bit of luck. Why do college graduates and experienced professionals alike, aspire to land a job at companies like Google or Apple? How did Salesforce create a place where employees can't say enough about the "Ohana" (family) culture?
These companies have one thing in common - they understand the value of building an employer brand (also coined internal branding), and they have maintained a commitment to doing it.
These are a few big name companies, but companies of all sizes, industries and in all geographic locations will benefit from employer branding.
Why Would Someone Choose To Work At Your Company?
There are a multitude of factors that people evaluate when choosing a place to work. How does your company stack up against the others?
Companies who excel at internal branding create an environment that attracts and retains the best talent, and they have well-crafted strategies for communicating that it's a desirable place to work.
Employer branding isn't just for large corporations. It is equally important for small to mid-size companies who understand the value of employees and want to set themselves apart with a great company culture.
Let's look at some of the common characteristics of great employer brands.
Common Characteristics of Great Employer Brands
They Put People First
The people you hire will drive you company to success or failure. Despite the size of your company or the industry you're in, talent is the fundamental framework for your employer brand.
Great companies are not made up of mediocre people. They are a reflection of great people.
James C. Collins advises business leaders on the importance of hiring the right people with this quote:
"A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people." - James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't.
Before investing in fancy office space or other expenses that you may or may not need, make sure you prioritize talent first.
They Are Intentional In Building Their Culture
Your organization's culture is probably the single biggest driver in your employer brand. Culture encompasses a lot of things from your company mission and values to the way you communicate and what you wear.
Companies with great internal brands clearly know and can articulate who they are, why they exist, and what their future goals are.
And team members believe in it and buy into it.
These companies leverage their core values to guide their decisions. They guide who they hire, what clients they work with, what opportunities they pursue and when they walk away from an attractive opportunity because it doesn't align with the long-term vision of what they are trying to build.
To protect their culture and their employer brand, they create processes to ensure team members have the proper on-boarding, training and support they need to thrive in and to sustain the culture.
They Empower Employees To Learn (And to Fail Fast)
If you've hired star players, they want an opportunity to grow. Great employer brands foster a culture of continuous growth.
What is your company currently doing to foster and encourage ongoing growth? Do you provide training and development, do you have a budget for ongoing professional development?
In addition to developing talent and providing resources for continuous growth, great employer brands encourage employees to try new things, to test new waters, and to occasionally fail.
If you are never failing, you're probably not testing new waters and trying new things. I believe there are two important aspects of failure: 1) if you're going to fail, fail fast and recover quickly and 2) manage the risks associated with failure, as to not jeopardize the business.
Employees want to learn, and often learning requires some accepted appetite for failure.
Building An Employer Brand That Wins
Prioritizing your employer brand in the midst of what feels like larger or more important opportunities can be challenging. As a business leader, even with the best intentions, you can quickly find yourself pushing internal branding to the back burner.
It's easy to assume that growing quickly will naturally create a great company that people want to work for. Don't fall prey to that misnomer.
Your employees likely care less about your size, your status or if you win the next contract than they do about how they are treated, how it feels coming to work each day and how well they understand and buy into the vision and purpose of the company.