Creating an Authentic Employer Brand

WeWork graciously hosted our panel on “Creating an Authentic Brand”.

Our panel consisted of Ed Nathanson (Employer Branding consultant), Leslie Saul (Commercial Architect and Interior Designer), Eric Solem (Commercial Realestate advisor), Kate Morgan (Talent Acquisition expert) and Dean Schwartz (Swag Master).

What does it mean to have an Authentic Employer Brand?

A survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group indicates, ‘that the best way brands can engage [Millennials] is to have an authentic purpose. Beyond salary, status and career progression, candidates want to know the reality behind life at the organization, the people they will work with and what the job is like on a daily basis”.

In a market steeped in competition, portraying authenticity for a company can be challenging. Often companies try to replicate other company employer brands that they deem successful because leadership knows it’s what contributed towards their greatness. As soon as you try to emulate another brand you are trying to adopt another’s culture creating a disingenuous version. Having your own culture that your company can build your employer brand provides a platform that you can articulate to candidates and employees can subscribe to. Those companies that do this are the ones that become pillars in the market attracting and retaining not just the best candidates, but the people that are best for the company.

The most critical piece to creating an organizations authentic employer brand is its core values. This isn’t just a list of adjectives pulled from someone else’s website or from an inspirational business poster. The organization must consider what it stands for; who are they as a collective and what are their guiding values. At a very early stage, all you may have to go on is the vision of the founders. Nothing wrong with that. You have the opportunity to mold the company in a way you want to see it from day one. Whatever stage your company is at you must lay down a set of core values that speak to who you are and why and whom you want to attract. Then, no matter what job function the company is hiring for, employees should portray those same values. Once the core values are established, the employer brand can begin to evolve.

We help many of our clients to identify their core values through an exercise that uncovers the personal attributes that top employees have in common that makes them special to the organization. It becomes those things that they can use to hire and fire to for success. We also encourage periodic surveys to reinforce that the culture is aligning with the core values as sometimes things can change depending on the stage of the company or if new leaders are influencing the culture. Many of our clients leverage our behaviors and motivators assessment to help in this process as well. They use it to understand and leverage their human capital potential by understanding how people like to communicate and what drives them.

Your company’s location speaks volumes to your employer brand as well. If your company is family oriented and supports a work/life balance, it is important to take into consideration things such as offering a location that is easier to commute to with a closer proximity to daycare facilities and fitness centers, or an area that is not entrenched in the hustle of the city with ample parking.

Obviously, budget comes into play with decision around location, but best to determine what it is worth in the long run and if it will espouse a message of who you are. Wanting a space with the look and feel of Google is not realistic or even advised. However, with careful thought and good planning, your location and space could work to foster the culture and attract the team you want. Designing a space at any stage becomes the backdrop for your brand. Good design is not only functional but allows employees to feel comfortable and helps them feel connected to the company.

Changing jobs is exciting but can cause anxiety. It’s really important for employees to feel like they’re joining a winning team. One of the best ways to communicate your company brand is through swag. As Dean put it, ”We’re always asking ourselves how can we best reflect their brand. “What are they trying to say?, What do they want people to think? And how do they do this in a way that looks cool?” New hire kits are a great way to kick things off. Creating an experience when they open a box or dig inside a logo embroidered backpack to reveal a branded t-shirt, cap, water bottle, etc. helps them recognize that they are joining a team and not just taking a job. Gifting your employees those same branded items is a chance to remind them that they are also valued members as well.

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