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Employer Branding: An Intro for Small Businesses

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Employer branding plays a crucial role in shaping external perceptions of your business, influencing not only customer impressions but also attracting potential employees and business partners. Most business owners are aware of how branding impacts their relationship with customers, but your brand as an employer is just as important as your brand as a company. Fostering both internal and external employer branding for your small business can significantly enhance team loyalty, while also cultivating a favorable employer reputation.

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What is an employer brand?

An employer brand is the way that potential and current employees perceive a company. It encompasses company culture, mission, values, leadership, policies and priorities. You company’s brand is a combination of internal policies and external communication with the public. Employees who currently work at your business can spread the company’s reputation through word-of-mouth, but companies with the strongest employer brand also take strategic steps to communicate their employer brand values to their target markets. This can include visual branding, social media interaction, community partnerships, events and awareness campaigns about company procedures.

Related:How to Hire a Brand Manager

Why your employer brand is important

Having a positive workplace culture and advertising it to build a well-known employer brand are two of the key elements to building a successful business with growth potential. Your employer brand can have an impact on several facets of your workforce, customer relationships and business opportunities. There are several reasons you should make your employer brand a priority:

Building a customer base

Modern customers often want to do business with companies who share their personal values and reflect those values through company actions. If you have a well-established brand as a respectful, socially-conscious, positive employer, you can attract customers who value those traits. Customers may also be more loyal to your brand if they know that you treat your employees well and care about the impact you make as a business in their community. Your employer branding initiatives also create opportunities for you and your employees to engage directly with customers, creating authentic interactions that build genuine connections with your products.

Attracting talent

When talented candidates look for a new job, they often gravitate towards companies with a strong company brand, searching for the top companies to work for in their area or the businesses that have the best workplace environment. Job seekers frequently utilize employer review websites to learn how current and past employees feel about their employer, including details about compensation, leadership strategies, workplace attitudes and company values. By building positive employer branding tools, you can make candidates feel more interested in working at your company and being a part of an exciting brand.

Retaining employees

Your employer branding efforts also have a direct impact on your current employees. When you focus on your branding as an employer, you start by building positive relationships with your staff. Many employees connect their personal identity to their career, which can extend to a specific employer if they have a brand identity that the employee relates to an believes in. Involving them in outreach efforts and prioritizing your role as a responsible, involved employer encourages your employees to be committed to their role in your company and may even improve retention rates.

Creating an industry reputation

A strong employer brand can be a great way to differentiate your business from competitors and show customers, employees and community partners that you have high-level industry expertise and business acumen. Small businesses often hold an important role in their community, so developing a strong employer brand and advertising your excellent company culture can cultivate local partnerships and support based on your reputation. Your branding efforts can influence how others perceive your brand compared to other businesses in your industry. By developing a consistent brand as an employer, you can attract potential business partners who have shared goals.

Tips for growing your company’s employer brand

Try using these strategies to thoughtfully grow your company’s brand as an employer:

Understand your core values

Before you can build an employer brand out of company behaviors, you’ll have to understand which values are most important to your mission. Part of employer branding is having a unified identity, so make a list of your behaviors as an employer that mean the most to you and your employees.

Audit your current brand status

Perform an audit of your current employer brand perception by researching what others think of your company’s actions as an employer. Start by conducting internal surveys of staff opinions and having conversations with department managers about the feedback they have gotten from their team. Then search social media posts, company review sites and other external methods for monitoring your reputation.

Align your policies with your mission

Your policies and actions as a company are some of the best methods for building an employer brand. Satisfied employees will spread their positive experiences with your company through their professional network. Work to build a diverse and inclusive workplace that has employee-friendly policies and affirms your company mission.

Create a brand ambassador program

Your employees can provide the most authentic, first-hand experiences with the public that demonstrate your brand as an employer. Have your employees document their experiences working for your company to provide an inside perspective on the company culture and how employee actions can directly impact the overall mission. This helps the internal employer branding within your company and advertises it to customers as a selling point of the products.

Encourage company reviews

Provide incentives for employees to give feedback and share their honest opinion of your company. Once you’re confident in your workplace culture, asking for anonymous employee reviews both internally and on job websites can create more awareness of your status as a great employer. It can also help you stay aware of your internal reputation and how it impacts your professional circle.

Frontload your onboarding

When hosting new employee orientation, be clear about the values you want to embody as a team. Having effective onboarding that introduces new employees to the existing environment helps them get situated and start to feel like a team. A good onboarding process strengthens the workplace culture and helps new employees form a bond with their employer.

Be a storyteller with multimedia

Share videos, blog posts and podcasts to showcase the individual expertise at your company and tell a story about the company’s growth and goals for future development. Your company’s history is a powerful tool for employer branding and showing your current and future employees their opportunity to grow with the company and be part of an inspiring or impactful company narrative.

Related:A Guide to Creating Content for Your Business

Optimize your website

Use clear, consistent messaging on your company’s website to express your values and responsibilities as an employer. Provide insight into your company culture and various benefits using engaging, interactive web pages with intuitive navigation. Making it easy for future employees and members of the public to learn about the steps you are taking to create a positive employer brand that is mutually beneficial for the business and its employees.

Don’t shy away from criticism

When you receive criticism from employees or notice bad reviews, take time to process the information and seriously address its cause. Being accountable and transparent are both positive qualities and can create trust among your staff and the customers who support you.

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Frequently asked questions about employer branding

What does employee value proposition mean?

An employee value proposition or EVP refers to the positive attributes that a company has to offer their workforce. It specifically refers to what makes a company’s benefits unique from other businesses and why a candidate would choose to work at that business instead of with a competitor. Employers use their EVP when advertising job postings to attract candidates with benefits such as compensation, time off, amenities, overall company culture and professional development opportunities. Defining a specific EVP for your company allows you to have a concise way to explain what you have to offer talented candidates.

Who is responsible for employer branding?

Your company’s leadership team is responsible for implementing employer branding efforts. Public relations, human resources and marketing employees have the biggest direct impact on employer branding because they interact with the public and the company’s staff, but every employee at a company can contribute to a company’s employer brand through participating in brand ambassadorship or engaging in company culture initiatives. Onboarding, social media management, fundraising, visual messaging and other aspects of employer branding are a team effort that requires collaboration from people of all levels of seniority and all departments at a business.

What is internal employer branding?

Internal employer branding is the part of employer branding that focuses on current employee relationships. It refers to internal communications and expectations for how leadership and staff interact to embody a company’s values and goals for overall branding. Internal employer branding works to educate staff, gather their feedback and apply it to the workplace culture. It includes the employer value proposition and any strategies a company uses to improve its relationships with current employees.

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