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Employer Brand: What is it and How Do You Cultivate It?

Want to know the secret to not only attracting talented millennial employees to your company, but retaining them? Hint: it doesn’t involve installing a pool table, adding an on-site gym, or allowing them to bring their dogs to work.

No, if you want to attract the very best employees for your company and keep them for the long haul, you need to get serious about creating an employer brand.

An employer brand is the brand that speaks to your employees. It’s not aimed at the customer, but rather the people who work for you. It should definitely be aligned with your customer brand, but they serve different purposes. The employer brand is meant to both attract AND retain talented millennial employees.

So how do you go about cultivating your employer brand? Start by making sure you fulfill on the four things millennials want from their employers. Millennials want what we all want: to learn and grow, to work for an organization that is real and transparent, to have their managers and bosses offer great feedback so they can improve, and to do fulfilling work that gives them a sense of purpose and contribution. But what makes millennials different than other generations is that if these needs aren’t being met, they are much more willing to change jobs and go someplace else.

To illustrate how you can incorporate the things millennials want most from their workplace into your employer brand, take a look at how four top companies are getting it right with their employees:

 

How Google Provides Space for its Employees to Learn and Grow

You’ve probably heard of Google’s “20 Percent Time” policy. Google allows their employees one full day a week, or 20% of their paid work time, to work on a project of their own choosing that they’re passionate about. Now the project still has to be Google-related, but Google deliberately allows space for its employees to learn and grow. And what’s more, the 20 Percent Time policy isn’t just hollow words on a mission statement: it’s been embedded into their company culture and employer brand since 2004.

Now a 20 Percent Time policy might not be feasible for your company, but there are others ways you can create space for your employees to learn and improve. You can offer a mentorship program, have them take some online courses, or send them to a conference or workshop like Strengths & Story which teaches them about themselves and articulating and creating value for others. When you take an interest in your employees and their career development, you make it about others. And when you make it about others, you will win.

 

How Amazon Takes Authenticity Seriously

It’s hard to go a day without seeing Amazon in the news. The global giant has found a way to impact nearly every aspect of our lives by changing the way we shop for books, music, products, and even groceries. But Amazon isn’t quite the looming Big Brother figure it’s often made out to be. A 2017 study from Cohn & Wolfe named Amazon the most authentic brand in the US. And while that study was comprised of consumer feedback, a recent two-year study of Amazon employees from Kununu found that “Amazon’s employee satisfaction rate exceeds the national average in 12 categories”. Which is a big deal because some of the categories they were scored on include things like company culture, gender equality, and diversity. What this suggests is that the authentic consumer brand Amazon is putting out to the world is also consistent with their internal employer brand.

The fact is, millennials want to work for a company that walks the talk. They want you to be real with them. They want to know your plans for the company and what your vision is for their role within it. And they want to know that your public stance on gender equality, employee development, diversity, etc, isn’t just a sound bite. They want to know that their bosses and managers take that public stance into every interaction with their employees.

 

 

How Patagonia Uses Feedback to Drive Employee Performance Goals

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and supplies giant, has over 1,500 employees at stores across the US. But to ensure they keep all of their stores working towards the same common objectives, they use a program called HighGround, which allows employees to set goals within the system and receive feedback from their managers on their workplace performance. The program is not required, employees opt-in to using it, but it has more than an 80% adoption rate among the company’s employees and of those, most report that they prefer this more streamlined system to the old ways of receiving feedback. And what has installing this system of feedback done for the company as a whole? Well, for the last three years, Patagonia has taken top 100 spots in the annual lists put together by Great Place to Work, was ranked #6 on the 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies List, and continues to post annual revenue growth.

Having a system in place for your employees to set goals, receive guidance on reaching those goals, and get feedback from their managers and bosses is vitally important to your company’s overall success. After all, a company is only as good as the people within it – so invest in your people by providing a way for them to communicate and receive feedback! Make use of a program like HighGround. Have schedule quarterly performance reviews. And train your employees how to give and receive constructive feedback on a daily basis.

 

How GoFundMe Gives its Employees Purpose and Contribution

Since 2010, GoFundMe has grown to become one of the world’s most trusted fundraising platforms. Over 10,000 people start a GoFundMe on the site every day to raise money for everything from emergency medical bills to travel expenses to non-profit causes. To hear the transformative stories of real people who have been helped by these fundraisers, you need only listen to an episode or two of their new podcast, True Stories of Good People. So to say that the employees of GoFundMe get a sense of purpose and contribution from their work, isn’t a stretch. For a company like GoFundMe, it’s in their DNA and part of their employer brand.

While your company may not be directly transforming people’s lives the way GoFundMe does, you can still find a way to make purpose and contribution part of your employer brand. Regularly share your client testimonials with your employees. Encourage them to ask for immediate feedback from the consumers they help to experience the real-time effects of their work. Make giving part of your company culture by donating a portion of your profits to a non-profit. Set aside a day to volunteer as a company. Or encourage your employees to use their technical skills to give back to the community. Giving your employees a sense of purpose and contribution isn’t just reserved for social good companies like GoFundMe – you can and should make it part of your employer brand!

 

Need more help developing your employer brand? On March 27th, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the employer brand during our webinar with Steven Bellach from Bottomline Marketing. Click here to register for the free webinar.