While your business has felt at least some of the hiring ups and downs surrounding the pandemic, things have recently shifted. Suddenly, it feels like you’re struggling to retain talent—existing and new hires. 

Employee turnover is a reality, especially in the current job seeker-centric, post-pandemic landscape. During this “Great Resignation” period, 48% of the U.S. working population is actively searching for a job and worker disengagement is leading to a loss in productivity across all sectors. Already, employers are at a disadvantage. But without the right employer branding, businesses may experience even more severe turnover.

Beyond just “Great Resignation”-inspired turnover, retention-related issues may relate directly back to misaligned or inauthentic employer branding—if employees aren’t experiencing what you’re promoting, you could experience a pronounced dip in job post traffic, qualified candidate applications, and retention.

Creating—and maintaining—a positive employer brand

For many organizations experiencing significant retention challenges, exploring potential employer branding gaps is a good place to start. 

Employer branding centers on employee experience—that employee feedback and reviews are the most accurate representation of an employer brand. This, then, tends to drive the search process: 86% of job seekers say they research reviews and ratings before applying for a job and half say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even if they were offered a pay increase. Compare that to the 92% of people who say they’d leave their current job to go to a company with an “excellent” reputation and it’s clear employer branding matters—especially now. 

Achieving that all-important “excellent” employer brand takes deliberate, decisive, consistent action and commitment. Organizations must:

#1: Listen

Tuning into current sentiment with an eye on not just hearing it but truly understanding what employees have to say and why. From here, you’ll have a better perspective on your employer brand and what’s standing between you and an “excellent” reputation. Once you’ve zeroed in on overarching internal sentiment you’ll also be better equipped to spot perceived gaps between your employer promise and employee experience. 

Venn diagram with "What a company wants its branding to be" on the left and "What employees are saying" on the right

#2: Reach

With a better-aligned employer story, the next step is to promote your brand to job seekers. By encouraging talent to learn more about your culture and values, you’ll build a stronger reputation and increase candidate consideration. 

#3: Influence

Likewise, by bridging the gap between your employer story and employee experience, you’ll create a more positive, proactive, and enticing environment for individuals. That will, likely, enhance employee feedback and public-facing reviews—the first place many job seekers turn when considering career next steps. 

Granted, employer branding tends to be somewhat fluid. Market conditions may change, leadership shifts, companies merge, and other major forces have the potential to disrupt even the most consistent employee messaging. 

These organizations and others like them continued to listen to employees’ right-now needs, shifting perks, benefits, and even pay. This, then, organically created added reach—internal and external messaging surrounding these added benefits designed to keep employees and their families safe and secure. 

What comes next: Turning insights into action

Employees feel they were promised a specific culture—a culture of innovation, for example, flexibility, creativity, community, or career growth—and that’s inconsistent with their experiences. By understanding this, you can work to improve your employee experience so it better aligns—and, with that, curb turnover among new hires and, overall, boost retention. This can have a significant bottom-line impact: replacing an employee typically costs six to nine months of that role’s salary.

The turnover ripple effect

That’s just one consideration. Losing an employee can have a significant impact on team morale, training discrepancies, and customer relationships. This, then, can drive increased dissatisfaction, employee reviews, and future turnover.

It’s not just recent employees exiting. If companies fail to adjust and evolve employer branding, you may see an increase in longer-term hires exiting the company. For these employees, the current environment no longer mirrors what drew them to the company in the first place. In some cases, it’s a natural evolution. In other cases, this departure is so significant—and so counter to an employee’s wants, needs, and goals—that they opt to leave.  

And of course, it can also lead to negative word of mouth and reviews on your employer branding pages, damaging your efforts to attract new talent.

Identify and bridge the employer branding gaps

Spend time talking to new hires and longer-term talent and encourage open, honest communication and feedback—and be prepared to listen. If and when gaps exist between those outward promises and the existing environment, aim to patch them—or, at the very least, to align your employer messaging to be better synched with the authentic employee experience.

Those organizations that deliver on their employer branding promises are well-positioned to curb turnover and create long-term value for both employees and the business as a whole—companies that invest in employer branding may reduce turnover by up to 28%.

From there, look for opportunities to better connect employees to your business. Seventy-nine percent of people say they consider a brand’s mission before applying for a job and more than half of workers say that, when it comes to job satisfaction, company culture is more important than salary. Finding ways to drum up that sense of pride can go a long way in terms of retention and employee satisfaction. 

Give employees a way to feel like they’re contributing to the greater good while finding purpose and meaning in their day-to-day. Pride directly impacts employer branding—not only are employees proud to share their experiences but when promoted via social media, company platforms, and PR initiatives it helps project the positive, proactive organization you are—an organization top talent wants to seek out. 

Next steps: Assessing your employer branding wins and real-time hurdles

In an increasingly competitive, job seeker-first market, reputation matters. Today, it’s essential organizations focus on their employer brand and, specifically, promoting a dynamic, authentic story that resonates with both prospective and current employees. From there, it’s critical companies invite job seekers in via social media previews, employee reviews, and continued messaging surrounding their employer promises. 

Reputation Matters:

69% of job seekers in the U.S. agree that it has a significant impact on their decision of whether or not to accept a job offer.

Source: Indeed survey, n=750

With compelling, authentic employer branding that syncs with your employee experience, you’ll see a decrease in recruiting costs and time-to-hire as well as talent and employee engagement and retention. Likewise, you’ll be cultivating a community of not just successful employees but influential internal advocates—people who are more likely to recommend candidates, post positive reviews, and commit to their role and to the business for the long term. This is an ideal outcome that boosts recruitment, loyalty, and retention.