How HR Execs Can Build a Stronger Employer Brand

Take these steps to establish your company as a great place to work that reflects your mission and values.

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How HR Execs Can Build a Stronger Employer Brand

Here's what you need to know:

  • You can help establish your company as a place with a fun, inclusive internal culture
  • Be very clear and in-depth about your DEI policies
  • Foster workplace friendships
  • Implement authentic, story-driven ad campaigns
  • Update your Careers page to be easy to navigate and pleasant to interact with
  • Focus on your company’s social media presence

We cannot overstate the importance of strong, clear branding. It is everything. Think about which company brands you come across in your everyday life. Examples may include General Mills cereal at the grocery store, or maybe even store brands such as 365 (Whole Foods) or Market Pantry (Target).

Typically, store brand foods and goods are more affordable than and of comparable quality to “brand name” products. Already, this is shaping your perception of these products.

The same goes for your company and your messaging. Your branding is everything. You want your company to be associated with positive adjectives such as “forward-thinking,” “inclusive,” and “innovative.” You do not want people to label you as “deceptive” or “problematic.”

If you are an HR executive at a smaller company (or even a larger one), you have the ability to help shape that brand from within the organization. You can help establish your company as a place with a fun, inclusive internal culture. This gives the brand more dimension and helps endear it to the people running it.

Confused about how to go about doing that? Don’t worry! We have a list for that.

Remember that HR’s role in branding is far bigger than you think

Branding is often mistakenly attributed to higher-ups at companies. You know the ones: the people at the tip-top who are in charge of the organization’s vision, direction, and reaching its goals. The people who create the brand and then delegate how that brand reaches consumers. They oversee the broader vision but usually will not be active in the day-to-day goings-on that actually define the brand.

The misconception is understandable. It is not necessarily incorrect, either. It just doesn’t honor the whole picture.

After all, most branding is shaped around creating a positive experience for consumers. It’s about building trust and making it easy for people to become loyal to your brand.

Ideally, a brand is an outward reflection of your mission, your values, and your overall approach. It says a lot about your company. And sure, at first it all feels very broad and big-picture. But your brand also reflects inward to your employees and potential hires. How your company comes across to employees matters a great deal.

A brand is an outward reflection of your mission, your values, and your overall approach.

HR teams can help shape what that brand looks like internally. In fact, if they are doing their jobs well, they are fostering an internal culture that’s excited about its brand and eager to make it even better.

Your diversity, equity and inclusion policies need to be crystal clear

This is a big one. You need to be very clear about your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies. These policies apply to people of color, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented or marginalized groups. Statistics prove that honoring workplace diversity is actually really great for business, too.

Do not be vague. Be as specific, straightforward, and in-depth as possible. Prospective hires will be looking at your policies to see if your company is a welcoming, fair, and emotionally safe place for them to work. If they read your DEI statement and click away feeling confused or iffy about your policy, that’s not good. It may mean you need to be more transparent and direct.

Do not sugarcoat anything. Being shady about your DEI policies is a surefire way to raise eyebrows and establish yourself as an untrustworthy organization.

Foster workplace friendships

This is 1 that pushes back against that old workplace mindset of “Come in, work, leave.” Work does not have to suck the soul from your body and leave you starving for human connection. That’s toxic. That was never a healthy way to run an office, regardless of what your crotchety old boss may have told you.

In fact, fostering office friendships can be an amazing way to build trust and get people excited about working for you. You could even tout it as a characteristic of your workplace culture.

There is a playfulness behind this approach that is really attractive to us. HR teams that encourage strong friendships and healthy emotional bonds understand their jobs far better than HR execs who hammer home the “Work, work, work” mindset and dismiss workplace connections as “distractions.”

Fostering office friendships can be an amazing way to build trust and get people excited about working for you.

Forging strong connections in the workplace can be a very beneficial thing for your company. A smart HR executive will see this potential and implement it in their talent acquisition process.

Emphasize authenticity when building a brand

We can’t tell you how many ad campaigns and far-reaching marketing strategies rely on dishonest, superficial messaging (or at least come across that way). Heck, we may not have to tell you. These slimy ads and snake oil salesmen can be found in nearly every corner of the internet. People may not necessarily remember the message, but they will remember how that message makes them feel.

With authentic, story-driven ad campaigns, you can make your marketing both memorable and emotionally resonant. It’s a combo that does not fail if you do it well. An example of an effective ad campaign could include career stories from your employees, as well as written anecdotes or videos from former employees who enjoyed working for you.

Get creative with how you are authentic and see what comes of it. Experiment. Consult with other HR professionals about how to evoke emotion in your messaging. Honor the personal, organic nature of the process and don’t curate where you don’t have to.

Update your Careers page with ALL the bells and whistles

Get applicants excited about throwing their names in the hat to work with you. If you hire at least somewhat frequently, you likely have a Careers page on your website. Make sure that this page is updated frequently. Make it fun. Maybe even make it interactive. Make it easy to navigate and pleasant to look at.

Establish the company as a place that takes its work seriously but isn’t afraid to have fun.

The point is to have people checking frequently and getting a healthy number of applications when new positions do become available. That won’t happen if it comes across as something you put little thought or effort into.

Establish the company as a place that takes its work seriously but isn’t afraid to have fun. That is huge and could very well take your hiring process to the next level.

Reach out to former employees to help build your brand

This one piggybacks off the previous entry. Collaborating with former employees shows job hunters 2 very important things: that you have dynamic, creative ways to engage with applicants and that you have maintained great relationships with former workers. That is incredibly valuable and will serve you well as you find new ways to attract new hires.

This may go without saying but we are going to say it anyway: be selective about which former employees get to speak on behalf of your company. Not every person who has left your organization is going to be a good fit for this. You obviously do not want an employee with whom you had a difficult, hostile, or stressful business relationship to be part of your marketing.

Basically, we’re saying don’t send out an email blast to every former employee saying that you would like testimonials about your company. It may backfire.

But the ones who left on good terms and remain active supporters of what you’re doing are great fits. Reach out to them. Go through your records. Comb your social media pages. See who is most engaged and check if they were once employees of your company.

It may even be worth hiring them as consultants or keeping them around as ambassadors. But that is something you will have to feel out yourself and discuss with your team.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve

Answer to see the results

Beef up your company’s social media presence for branding

You have almost definitely seen or heard this 1 before. There is a good reason for that, too: social media makes it easier for your company to engage with your audience. Without an active social media presence, it is much more difficult to get ahead of your competitors. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that it is also more difficult to keep your audience informed about open positions if you aren’t active on social media.

And by social media, we mean the big ones: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…even TikTok! These are all platforms with hundreds of millions of active users. The potential reach you have on these websites is massive and could put you in touch with dream candidates you would not have found otherwise.

Hopefully, these tools and tips have given you a better idea of how HR teams can enhance an organization’s branding. As this article illustrates, branding is not just about getting consumers to love and trust your products. It is about creating an internal culture that gets people pumped about the very idea of working with you.

That is where a solid HR team and a capable HR exec come into play. Bringing on top-tier talent requires excellent strategies, lots of planning, and no shortage of tact. It can be time-consuming, confusing, and stressful, but it is worth it.

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