Your gut tells you that your employer brand is critical to your talent attraction efforts. Your co-workers and industry leaders tell you the same thing. As do white papers, candidate surveys and unbiased research.[If you’re still in doubt of all of that, this study from a few years back found that 69% of candidates wouldn’t take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. (Corporate Responsibility Magazine / Allegis Group Services Study, August 2012). ]
So what makes it so important? Why is the employer brand and company reputation the No. 1 factor in many candidates’ career decisions today?
It’s because storytelling is in our genetic code. Look throughout history and you’ll find evidence of storytelling among all ancient civilizations and cultures. It’s how we communicate. It’s something that human beings are pre-dispositioned for —even today when we have the attention span of goldfish.
You know, maybe storytelling is actually more important today because we have the attention span of goldfish. Maybe, just maybe, we’re drawn into something real, emotional and captivating as opposed to the continual barrage of advertising and cold, impersonal attempts of companies to pull us this way or that.
The secret sauce for a strong employer brand
And so that leads me to the key elements of a strong employer brand. It boils down to three core ingredients:
- Tell good stories
- Share the “why”
- Find an emotional pull
Allow me to elaborate.
Tell good stories
As mentioned, the human race appreciates a good story. Your company and your employees have a story to tell. Your challenge is to find it.
For many companies, that is directly tied to your consumer or corporate brand. What does your company do at its core? What do you sell? What do your employees make, help with, create, provide, etc.? Has your company been around for 85 years, or are you a hungry startup? All of these are factors to include in your story…but then take it one step further and discuss the employee side of that story.
Take The Home Depot for example. They produce quite a number of employee stories that tie nicely back to the company’s services and core values. Here’s an example:
Dig around your company to pull those stories out, but before firming up the themes, see the next point below.
Share the “why”
It’s great to understand what you offer, but to truly create a captivating employer brand, you have to dig deeper and find out why your employees do what they do. It’s bigger than the products you sell, and chances are, other companies offer something similar, right? So what makes you unique? Why do your people come to work every day?
There is a huge cross-section of job seekers who are looking for meaningful, purposeful work. Ping pong tables are fun, but they don’t make your employer brand. There’s something bigger here (I hope!).
Google is a great example of doing meaningful work. Google didn’t just create a search engine. They put the world’s information at your fingertips. And, that access to information can literally change lives.
It’s not what you do; it’s WHY you do it that matters. Find that story; I cannot emphasize this enough. That’s the heart of your employer brand.
Find an emotional pull
And, speaking of heart, the last ingredient in a great employer brand includes an emotional component. There’s an element that tugs on your heartstrings just a little bit. It’s authentic, true and ultimately creates a sense of loyalty with your audience.
Remember the Chipotle commercials from a few years back? That’s a good example of all three of these components.
They know what their story is as a brand, they know why they’re different and why people choose to work for them, and they translated that into a clever video that makes you feel. Let me reiterate that – It. Makes. You. Feel.
OK, one more example. Let’s look at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Not necessarily a household name like Google or Apple, but they’re doing incredibly important work…and that’s part of the why for their employees.
Read through some of their published employee stories, and you’ll notice a lack of clichés like “career growth” or “working alongside smart people.” What you’ll discover instead is a well-thought-out connector between what the employee does, and why.
These folks may be scientists and researchers, but they don’t talk about test tubes and beakers. They’re improving air quality in Korea and the health of its residents. They talk about personalizing cancer and HIV treatments to save more lives. These are big initiatives and combine “why” people choose to come there with the emotional aspect of it.
Here’s one last tip – leave your audience with something impactful at the end of your story. Psychologically, people equate how they feel to the last thing they remember, much more so than to the entire story. So, speeches, videos and stories are always better when you can end on an important or emotional point.
Consider these employer brand examples and compare the stories you’re telling. What are you doing well? What can you improve upon?
Thanks for reading. What other employer brand stories do you admire?