You’re a top tier marketer. You already know that to attract customers, you need to put effort behind your brand. But you also need to put that same energy into marketing your company to employees—present and prospective. The best way to do so is with employer branding.

Between quiet quitting and a 54% increase in LinkedIn members changing jobs year-over-year, it takes more than having a “cool office” to attract and retain great employees. In fact, lacking work-life balance, quality compensation and company culture are the top reasons people are leaving their jobs, according to LinkedIn.

Let’s get into what an employer branding strategy is, how it can feed recruitment and retention and why investing time into your employer brand is an investment in your bottom line.

What is employer branding?

Your employer brand is the perception and reputation of your company among current employees and job seekers. Employer branding is the set of strategies and tactics you use to actively build this brand and reputation.

In other words, an effective employer branding strategy actively answers the question, “What makes your company the best place to work?”

A green graphic showing a definition of employer branding

Building your employer brand can include a mix of creating content that promotes your company culture, brand mission and values, encouraging employee advocacy and making improvements to your hiring process.

The benefits of an employer branding strategy

Your employer brand will always exist—with or without your involvement. Taking an active part in building yours can attract new talent, retain current talent and boost your reputation.

And building reputation matters—50% of work candidates say they wouldn’t work at a company with a bad reputation. Not even for a pay raise.

Here are a few ways employer branding benefits your entire organization.

Recruit top-tier talent

A world-class employer branding strategy puts you in the enviable position of having your pick of the talent pool. According to Glassdoor, 75% of candidates are more likely to apply at a company that actively manages its employer brand.

And this is a stand-out benefit for teams feeling the hiring crunch. While 62% of marketers plan on filling 2-6 new positions, more than half also say finding experienced talent is their top challenge.

Bar chart depicting how social media teams' biggest challenges have evolved from 2019 through 2022

A strong employer brand helps you reach and build trust with prospective talent by showing them why it’s the best next step for their career.

Reduce turnover and boost employee satisfaction

Your employer brand starts from within—employees who feel cared for at work are 3.2x more likely to be happy at work, according to LinkedIn.

Part of employer branding is emphasizing what your employees love about your company—and fixing what they dislike. Involving employees by encouraging feedback and empowering their advocacy can help them feel heard and engaged.

In the Edelman trust barometer, 60% of respondents would choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values. Communicating your company values through employer branding helps set expectations with new employees, and attract those who share your values.

A screenshot of a Sprout Social LinkedIn post discussing the power of employee advocacy.

Manage your reputation and build consumer trust

Every step of an employer branding strategy involves assessing and improving your reputation.

Talking to employees about their frustrations, checking your company reviews and understanding how people talk about you on social boosts your image. And building your reputation as a great place to work among the workforce extends to your bottom line by reducing turnover and the time it takes to hire employees.

Create powerful advocates

Like we said—improving your employer brand starts from within. And this includes leveraging the people who know your business best: your employees.

Employee advocacy is all about building trust. People are 3x more likely to trust company info from an employee vs a CEO. And according to The Sprout Social Index™, 58% of consumers say they’d purchase from a company they trust over a competitor.

Empowering employees to post about their work experience is one of the best ways to build trust in your brand—with prospective talent and consumers alike.

A LinkedIn post from a Sprout employee advertising open roles at Sprout.

Fuels more effective corporate communications

Maintaining a strong employer brand is a responsibility shared between corporate communications, social teams and among all employees. According to Edelman, managing brand and corporate identity is an increasingly key function for communications professionals.

An employer branding strategy paints a picture of who you are as a company, from your values as a brand to your diversity and inclusion efforts and more.

Companies that don’t show how they care for employees or put values in action will fall behind.

A screenshot of a Starbucks LinkedIn post advertising that they consider employees their partners and careers at Starbucks.

Steps to creating a powerful employer branding strategy

In short: To improve candidate engagement and employee advocacy while reducing turnover, employer branding is the key to success.

Here’s how to create an employer branding strategy that brings your company’s values to life to stay competitive in the market and desirable to current staff.

Step 1: Assess where you’re at

Start at the beginning: Do an audit to see where your employer brand currently stands.

Here are a few action items to consider:

Survey your employees

Ask for their honest feedback through anonymous surveys to understand what’s going well and what isn’t.

If the survey reveals problems with your corporate culture or internal communications, address them. Share your action plans with employees and show you’re willing to adapt to meet their needs. This helps build a team of loyal brand ambassadors and demonstrates you’re not just talking the talk.

Look at your reviews

Regularly checking and interacting with reviews is crucial—so much so that according to Glassdoor, 62% of job seekers say their perception of a company increases after an employer responds to a review.

Reviews are an unfiltered source of information about your company culture and brand perception. These reviews can come from external platforms, like Glassdoor, or internal resources, like exit interviews.

Dig into social media

When it comes to what people really think about your brand, social media is an insights goldmine.

Tap your social team—what common praise, complaints and FAQs do they see?

You can also take this a step further by using a social listening tool to check in on your brand health, sentiment, common keywords people use to talk about you and more.

Sentiment Summary dashboard in the Sprout Social Listening tool

Review recruitment and onboarding processes

The hiring and onboarding processes are the first chances you have to show a potential employee how your company operates.

Talk to current employees—especially recent hires—about how these processes went. And assess the process with your recruitment team. What can be improved? What isn’t working?

Identify content and resource gaps

Content can play a role at every step of the hiring process—from recruitment to retaining talent.

It’s also a crucial tool for building your brand’s story.

Here are a few areas to look at to determine whether more content and resources are needed:

  • Social media content: Audit the type and frequency of content your team is publishing around your brand, employees and open positions.
  • Website content: Do you have a career page? If so, does it need a refresh?
  • Job postings: Are these as clear and as accurate as possible?
  • Onboarding materials: Do these help new hires as much as possible, or do they leave gaps that new hires must scramble to figure out?
  • Internal newsletters: Are you staying connected to your employees regularly? Is there value in the content you already send out?

A screenshot of the career page on Apple's website.

Step 2: Develop your employee value proposition (EVP)

A strong EVP will outline rewards—both monetary and non-monetary—you offer to employees in exchange for their experience, skills and effort. Think:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Growth opportunities
  • Diversity and inclusion efforts and promises
  • Remote work flexibility
  • Company culture and more

Your EVP is the basis for your employer brand messaging and strategy.

Remember to be honest. Your EVP must be an accurate representation of what employees can expect when working at your company. Setting employees up for certain expectations that you can’t meet will only hurt your reputation.

Step 3: Define your goals and KPIs

Setting goals and KPIs is a crucial part of assessing how your strategy is going—and to secure buy-in.

What do you want to achieve with your employer branding strategy? Set SMART goals and identify KPIs to measure success. On the recruitment side, your goals may include:

  • Attracting more leads
  • Implementing campaigns for priority roles, departments and more
  • Desired number of new hires
  • Receiving more referrals
  • More engaged employees
  • More qualified candidates for new positions
  • A higher offer acceptance rate
  • Higher employee retention over time

On the marketing or content side, your goals might include:

  • More employee-shared posts
  • Increase in employer branding related posts
  • A boost in positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor
  • Adding awareness campaigns around your employer brand to boost perception and awareness

Step 4: Identify target audience and candidates

According to LinkedIn, 40% of professionals say colleagues and work culture are top priorities when picking a new job. Before you can focus on attracting more talent, you need to first identify what kind of candidate you want to attract.

Who is your target audience? What environment are they looking for? This goes beyond simply looking at job title or sophistication level. Creating a rough picture of your ideal candidate will guide how you build your job descriptions and more.

Step 5: Determine your channels and stakeholders

Just like no one person is responsible for your brand as a whole, employer branding is a team effort.

Determine individual responsibilities and get stakeholders on board now to prevent burnout and disorganization later. Who needs to be involved? What will each person be responsible for? How will you align stakeholders with the strategy?

Think about all of your communication channels, like social media, newsletters and internal emails. Determine which channels will be key to strengthening your employer brand and will reach the right audience—internally and externally.

LinkedIn post from Starbucks sharing a photo of their leadership team

Step 6: Involve your C-suite

At the highest level, C-suite buy-in is crucial to making any changes to the organization that are needed to improve your employer brand.

According to a McKinsey study, 62% of employees get some purpose from work, but want to get even more. Give your C-suite an opportunity to help provide that feeling of purpose by involving them in communications. After all, who wants to work on a ship when the captain doesn’t believe in its journey or purpose?

And don’t be afraid to involve your C-suite in your strategy’s day-to-day, too. Encouraging leadership to contribute to employer brand content, build their own social media presence or be active in internal communications can show current and future employees that they’re involved.

Step 7: Create a rollout plan

A rollout plan will keep your strategy organized and consistent. It will also ensure your stakeholders know what to expect and outline how employee advocates across your company can get involved.

Here are a few items to consider using in your rollout plan:

  • An editorial calendar for blog and social media content focused on your employer brand (think: employee features, your values, etc.)
  • Internal emails to source employee feedback, encourage posting, etc.
  • Checking and responding to reviews, or encouraging current employees to leave reviews
  • Regularly encouraging employees to post about open roles—regardless of team
  • Updating career websites and your website as a whole to reflect your employer proposition

Step 8: Track results

Your strategy is a process—not a destination. Once you’ve launched your strategy, tracking your results will help you mark your successes, and pivot when something isn’t successful.

Track your KPIs to determine whether you’re meeting those goals you set. You likely already have a number of tools that can help you measure your success—from social platforms themselves, to employee advocacy tools. Set a regular review cadence to analyze your performance, evaluate your strategy and determine next steps.

Give employees a voice with employee advocacy

Employee advocacy is the internal and external promotion of an organization by its staff members—like posting on social media. Your employees are some of your best brand advocates. Employee content gets up to 8x more engagement than content on brand channels, so invest in amplifying their voices.

Encouraging them to post about your company is one of the most powerful ways to build trust with and attract talent.

A screenshot of a LinkedIn post by a Pendo dot io employee celebrating their company for providing unlimited PTO days.

With Sprout’s employee advocacy solution, Edina Realty saw a 674% MoM increase in social engagements.

Employee advocacy goes deeper than simply asking staff to post. Take an active role in making posting easier by curating content for them to share—72% of engaged users on social media say they would post about their company if content was written for them.

72% of engaged users would post about their company if content was written for them

Using an employee advocacy platform, like Sprout’s, makes curating and sharing content with your employees easy. It lightens your load too by simplifying measuring the impact of your employee content.

If you use Sprout, you can curate employee advocacy content in the same place you schedule your brand’s social media posts.

A screenshot of how brands can send stories straight to Employee Advocacy while publishing content in Sprout

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Employer branding demands culture shift

Your employer branding strategy should be more than just a marketing effort—it should be a way of life.

Management and leadership teams must be fully devoted to the brand in order to follow through on commitments to their employees and adjust when growth areas are revealed.

A great employer brand starts from the inside out. Take it slow, and start from within by amplifying employees’ voices internally to reach new talent externally. Find out how Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform can supercharge your employer brand.