As we progress into the post-digital age, marketing and HR are beginning to align. There have always been links – communication is imperative in both departments, for example – but HR teams are now turning to techniques such as social media and content marketing to source top talent, and crossover terms like ‘employer brand’ and ‘employer value proposition (EVP)’ are becoming increasingly popular – but what do they mean?       

Originally coined in the 1990s, your employer brand is simply how you are perceived in the talent market. It relates to staff experience at all stages of the employee lifecycle, from initial engagement through to onboarding, career progression and then offboarding and beyond.

While the term is relatively new, you could say that employer brand as a concept has always existed – it’s just your reputation as an employer, and so can only be controlled by creating exceptional experiences for employees.

And that brings us to your employer value proposition (EVP).

Your EVP is all about defining what your company stands for. It brings together what you offer as an employer – so pay, benefits, environment, career development, daily perks – while also encompassing the company’s culture, values and mission. It’s everything that makes your employees get out of bed and love coming into the office, and is that middle ground between what employees and employers want.

Considering there’s a perceived talent shortage, it’s easy to see how having both a strong employer brand and EVP is important – the two go very much hand-in-hand.

Unfortunately, there are no clever marketing tricks for developing your employer brand though. This is all about the long-term and is best developed with input from the whole company – not just the leadership team. Building the employer brand feeds into the proactive approach that HR play in the future of work too.

Going back to those links with your marketing department, your employer brand should align well with your consumer brand – they should share a tone of voice, for example. And while you would think that a solid consumer brand would therefore mean a strong employer brand – think again.

The Amazon anomaly

Amazon are the perfect example of perceived damaged goods (their employer brand, I mean, not their deliveries).

Earlier this decade, a BBC Panorama documentary highlighted working conditions at Amazon as among the worst in the UK and a New York Times piece noted a high-pressure cut-throat environment.  While CEO Jeff Bezos sent a memo to all employees immediately after the NYT piece, and the claims of being a bad employer were publicly dismissed by some members of staff, as we approach the 2020s their damaged reputation may be hard to shake.

I reached out to a few people within my social networks to get a very small sample of what they thought of Amazon as an employer. Only 11% believed them to have a strong employer brand, as opposed to 68% that thought it was bad.

Funnily enough, if you look at their UK Glassdoor reviews, you’ll see a solid 3.8 score (at the time of writing!). Their Comparably reviews are strong as well.

So why is there such a difference between market perception and the views of Amazon’s employees? How did Amazon continue to hire talent while being labelled as an awful place to work?

It could be down to their strong customer brand – at the time of writing 72% of UK Trustpilot reviews are excellent or great. They use leverage from being a top retailer to attract talent that want to push the boundaries on innovation. These types of people are typically high-performers that thrive under pressure, and so they’ve now built an EVP around what was previously a problem.

Pretty smart, actually. And no doubt their employer brand (or at least the market perception) will improve in time.

Benefits of a strong employer brand

So what benefits are there of building your EVP and taking control of your employer brand?

Easier (and possibly cheaper) hiring process:

72% of executives believe that employer branding has an impact on hiring and 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.

When you’re an employer of choice, building talent pools becomes easier. If people have bought into your company, then they’ll likely find you. Therefore, KPIs such as cost-per-hire and time-to-hire are dramatically decreased.

However, don’t forget that the hiring process in itself could actually affect your employer brand too, or even your consumer brand. Virgin Media found that 6% of their 123,000 rejected candidates each year went on to cancel their monthly subscription due to a bad experience, which ended up costing them £4.4m annually.

Ensure you’re covering the basics with candidates at the very least. Be receptive and respond to all applicants. Keep them engaged so that even if you’re not hiring, you’re making them advocates.

Extended employee lifecycle:

If you’re aligning your values with your existing employees and new recruits, then you’re fostering an inclusive culture. This is going to lead to better staff attrition. In fact, LinkedIn have reported that companies investing in employer branding experience a 28% decrease in staff turnover.

Improve performance:

71% of companies with a clear and effective employer brand have reported improved company performance, as opposed to 45% of firms with less developed employer brands.

Next Steps

If you’re looking to build an EVP from scratch, perhaps start by consulting with your wider organisation, not just the leadership. Employee engagement surveys are a great place to start. Understand what makes them tick and what gets them out of bed each morning.

Defining an employer brand is probably best developed with the marketing team – you’ve got a lot to take from the no-doubt already developed consumer brand in terms of language used in communications. Perhaps also do some research on what people are saying about you on social media and sites like Glassdoor.

Your marketing team may also help you turn your research into talent profiles – the HR version of customer personas. Talent profiles are important as you want to ensure you’re targeting the right audience with the right message.  From there, you can build awareness through strong SEO, social media and content marketing strategies.

If you’re looking for outside assistance in developing your employer brand, our hybrid services could be just the answer – you can find out more here.