Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

Step 1: Understand Your Organization’s Reputation

Is it time for companies to deploy a brand strategy template for recruiting and employee retention? The better question might be, “why haven’t more employers done it yet?”

The United States is currently a buyer’s market for employees, with over four million people quitting their jobs each month in 2021 and nearly two job openings for every unemployed person. 

Furthering the impact, retirements are also up, with 2.6 million more baby boomers retiring from February 2020 to November 2021 than were expected pre-pandemic.  

When a job opening is posted online, companies are getting just five to 20% of the number of applicants that they previously received for open positions, even with higher levels of compensation and flexible work options, such as remote and hybrid. 

While job candidates report job ghosting from employers up to one-third of the time, 83% of employers are also experiencing ghosting, with employees not showing up for work after accepting a position and candidates ghosting an interview.

Begin the Employer Brand Strategy Template

Building a strong employer brand strategy template can’t solve all these challenges, but it can help your organization attract and retain talent. For instance, between 50% to 69% of workers won’t join a company with a bad reputation.

If your organization is committed to being an employer of choice, and delivering a compelling employee value proposition, developing an employer brand strategy template is essential.  

As a starting point for developing a strong employer brand strategy template, you’ll want to understand your current employer brand reputation.  There are several information sources that can be accessed, such as:

Published Lists of “Best” Employers

Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

One such list is Glassdoor’s 2022 Employees Choice awards. Glassdoor’s source is its “proprietary algorithm” leveraging data from employee reviews for the prior year (in this case October 2020 to October 2021). Glassdoor requires at least 75 ratings for large employers and 30 ratings for small and medium employers so that even the small and medium set must be fairly large.

Glassdoor’s top 10 large 2022 list includes:

  1. Computer graphics processors, chipsets, and related multimedia software design and manufacturer NVIDIA (#1)
  2. Inbound marketing, sales and service provider HubSpot (#2)
  3. Management consulting firms Bain & Company (#3) and Boston Consulting Group (#6)
  4. eXp Realty (#4)
  5. box (#5)
  6. Google (#7)
  7. Veterans United Home Loans (#8)
  8. lululemon (#9)
  9. Salesforce (#10)
Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

Another publication is Forbes large employers list, defined as 1,000+ employees.  In this survey research done with Statista, 60,000 employees were asked:

‘”to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family, and to nominate organizations other than their own.” 

Five of the Forbes Top 10 large employers are medical facilities (CHOP, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mayo Clinic, UT Southwestern Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center), one is a utility (Southern Company), two are manufacturers (Michelin, Sherwin Williams), one is a used car dealer (Carvana), and one is NASA.  

Forbes Top 10 large employer list (2021) includes:

  1. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  2. Southern Company
  3. NASA
  4. Memorial Sloan Kettering
  5. Michelin Group
  6. Sherwin Williams
  7. Mayo Clinic
  8. Carvana
  9. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  10. MD Anderson Cancer Center
Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

Next we have Great Place to Work and the Fortune Top 100 list.  At the center of Great Place to work is the “Trust” methodology that finds through 100 million employee surveys that:

the definition of a great workplace is one where employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.”

Great Place to Work provides a number of tailored Workplace lists, organized by:

  • Geography, e.g., Best Workplaces in Chicago or New York
  • Industry, e.g., Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production or Retail
  • Size, e.g., Best Small and Medium Workplaces (two separate lists)
  • People Companies that Care (“top U.S. companies supporting their employees and their surrounding communities”)

Great Place to Work also partners with Fortune to develop Fortune’s Top 100 list. 

As of April 2021, Fortune’s top 10 list included technology players CISCO and Salesforce, real estate financial services organizations (AmEx, Capital One, Rocket Companies, Camden Property Trust), hotelier Hilton, retailer Wegman’s, medical provider Texas Health Resources and UKG.

  1. CISCO
  2. Salesforce (who also placed on the Forbes top 10)
  3. Hilton
  4. Wegman’s Food Markets
  5. Rocket Companies
  6. UKG
  7. Texas Health Resources Inc.
  8. Camden Property Trust
  9. Capital One
  10. American Express
Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

Glassdoor competitor Comparably generates 16 different awards, including Best CEOs, Best Company Culture, Happiest Employees, Best Companies for Diversity, Best Compensation, Best Places to Work by City and more.  A point of difference is “verified employee reviews.”

Several of the Comparably Best Company Culture 2021 award winners overlap with the Forbes list, including HubSpot and Boston Consulting Group.

Comparably’s Top 10 Company Culture for 2021 were:

  1. HubSpot (also on Forbes list)
  2. RingCentral
  3. Boston Consulting Group (also on Forbes list)
  4. Microsoft
  5. Adobe
  6. Farmer’s Insurance
  7. CHEGG
  8. IBM
  9. Zoom Video Communications
  10. Medalia
Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

LinkedIn Best Workplaces to Grow Your Career list provides a different perspective.  

LinkedIn builds its ratings around data that demonstrate seven “pillars” that lead to career progression:

 ability to advance; skills growth; company stability; external opportunity; company affinity; gender diversity and educational background. 

The LinkedIn approach surfaces Apple, Amazon, IBM, Google and AT&T, along with financial firms JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, retailer Walmart and accounting firms Deloitte and EY.

  1. Amazon
  2. Alphabet (aka Google)
  3. JPMorgan Chase
  4. AT&T
  5. Bank of America
  6. IBM (also on the Comparably Top Culture list)
  7. Deloitte
  8. Apple
  9. Walmart
  10. EY

Other Reputation Indicators for an Employer Brand Strategy Template

Beyond lists, there are many online ratings from additional sources that can help with understanding your organization’s online brand reputation. 

Some specialize in certain industries. For example, Built In LA focuses on tech and startups in Los Angeles and is part of the Built In group.

  1. Indeed
  2. Glassdoor
  3. The Muse
  4. Great Place to Work  (“global authority on culture”)
  5. BuiltIn
  6. Comparably
  7. Vault

Your company website is another source of information about the brand strategy for employees. 

Some questions to consider are:

  1. How prominent is the information about the organization as an employer, also known as the careers section? 
  2. Are clear company values articulated?
  3. How interesting is your company “about us” section in your job descriptions? One of the Los Angeles CEOs who we know routinely gets more applications than needed.  In addition to a great culture, he makes sure that the company’s description of itself in job listings is engaging, and not “plain vanilla.”

Some examples of employer brand strategy focus can be found on the Boston Consulting Group and HubSpot websites.

  • Boston Consulting Group’s career section says “Welcome to the Group,” and features videos and employee profiles, while highlighting awards the organization has received as a workplace.
    • The BCG website also features its culture and values, including:     
      • Respect for the individual
      • Integrity
      • Diversity
      • Clients Come First
      • The Strategic Perspective
      • Value Delivered
      • Partnership
      • Expanding the Art of the Possible
      • Social Impact
  • The career section of the HubSpot website prominently features testimonial videos from employees.  HubSpot says “Welcome to the Jungle.”  
    • HubSpot’s core values spell out HEART and are:
      • Humble
      • Empathetic
      • Adaptable
      • Remarkable
      • Transparent

Proprietary employee feedback is another common way to understand the organization’s starting point and to gain insight into what is needed to become an employer of choice and deliver a compelling employee value proposition.  Exit interviews, focus groups among current employees, regular employee surveys and other approaches can be used.

According to one source, some best practices to manage the brand’s employer reputation are:

  1. “Monitor and respond to employee reviews,
  2. Ask what you can do better,
  3. Correct problems with employee experience,
  4. Encourage employees to become ambassadors,
  5. Perfect your interview process, and
  6. Harness employee feedback.”

Employee referrals have been shown to be highly effective in recruiting with high ROI and retention of referred candidates.  With that in mind, tracking the number of referrals and referral outcomes is another way to gain insight into your organization’s employer brand reputation.  If the number of referrals is decreasing, this can be a source of concern.

Aligning Customer and Employer Brand Strategy as Part of an Employer Brand Strategy Template

It can be informative to assess the alignment of the customer and the employer brand strategies.  A way to do this is to measure how well the customer rates the brand, compared with how well employees and candidates rate the employer brand. 

We’ve provided some examples below, which are meant to provide an initial look. They are not completely developed. Exploring all the ways consumers rate the brand and that employees rate the company is beyond the scope of this article, but it gives an idea.

Brand Strategy Template for Employers: Do You Have One?

HubSpot provides an example of a brand where both the customer brand and employer brand ratings are strong.  Hubspot’s employer ratings from Glassdoor were 4.6, and it placed in the top 10 nationally.   US News & World Report shows customer ratings for HubSpot at #4 overall. And HubSpot again places #4, with an “Excellent” overall rating of 9.2 according to Top10.com.  That compares with:

  1. PipeDrive at 9.6
  2. Monday at 9.6
  3. Freshsales at 8.9
  4. HubSpot at 9.2
  5. Zendesk at 9.1

Alternatively, customers may rate the brand’s products highly, but the employer may not be as well rated. An example of this might be POM Wonderful juice, with 4.6 out of 5 ratings on Amazon.  Glassdoor ranking for POM Wonderful juice’s parent The Wonderful Company are 3.5, which is below the average of 3.7 and well below the leaders at 4.6. In this case, the customer brand is stronger than the employer brand.

NVIDIA received the top Glassdoor employer rating at 4.6, well above the 3.7 average.  However, the NVIDIA visible online customer reputation is mixed.  Amazon ratings for one product came in strong at 4.6 out 5.0. With limited access to their online customer ratings, TrustPilot scores them at a 1.7, with 74% of 306 customers giving them the lowest rating “Bad.”  Without more information, this would suggest NVIDIA has lower performance among customers than it does among employees, the opposite of The Wonderful Company. It may be that NVIDIA has a stronger customer rating, but this is not possible to discern.

The last category is a brand that is not well regarded by its customers or its employees. We will omit an example here. While there are undoubtedly organizations that fall into this category, they are not examples to emulate. (And why cause unnecessary embarrassment?)

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is another great measure of customer brand strength (relative to competition). While we didn’t use it in this case, it’s helpful.

While the first step to complete a brand strategy template for employers is to understand your reputation, there are many steps to follow. See our recommended 3 Core Components of a Brand Strategy Template.

For more examples of brand strategy templates, visit the Brand Strategy resources page. Or join us at an upcoming office hours to share your perspective.

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