The Critical Role of Culture in Employer Branding4 min read.
Employer branding and culture is everything the world believes about your company, from the inside out. How culture impacts employer brand plays an important role in many facets of your business — especially when it comes to attracting the right talent.
But here’s the truth: Too many companies never do anything strategic to build their employer branding or align their culture and employer brand. This puts them at a huge disadvantage. However, they see transformative results when they thoughtfully create and cultivate their employer brand.
The Importance of Culture
To more develop a solid employer brand reputation, start with the 3Cs — career catalyst, culture and citizenship. These are vital components of an employer branding strategy, and identifying which one you want to be known for can help set you apart.
In this blog post, we’ll focus on culture. Much has been written and said about the impact of culture in the workplace, but it’s often pushed to the side as a strategic component of employer branding. Leaders sometimes view it in a limited way, assuming it only pertains to employee perks. In reality, culture involves every aspect of the employee experience, from how it feels to go through the recruitment process to the ability to grow within the company.
That said, culture should never be a one-size-fits-all situation. It should appeal to a specific type of person rather than every person; you want to repel the many and compel the few best candidates for your organization.
Google has a great repel-compel culture. Everyone knows that working at Google is demanding; the company challenges its talent, and leadership expects a lot. But every year, millions of applicants throw their hat into the ring even though it’s harder to get into than Harvard. Other candidates, however, never apply because they know Google’s culture doesn’t fit their needs.
Developing a Culture-Focused Employer Brand
From a talent acquisition perspective, it’s currently a buyer’s market. Companies may be getting tons of resumes for every open role, but they don’t want a ton of applications if those candidates aren’t the best organizational fits.
When employer branding is unmistakable and rooted in a distinct culture, fewer people apply. This means that those people who do apply are the highest-quality applicants — and are more likely to become engaged employees who stick around.
Use the following strategies to ensure your culture is boldly defined while providing a firm foundation for your employer brand:
Find and fix your culture weak points.No culture is perfect, but some are more robust and clearly defined than others. Gauge the strength of yours by collecting feedback from employees through anonymous surveys. You won’t know which aspects of your culture to tweak until you learn what’s working and what isn’t.
Considering the fact that organizational culture has a measurable effect on employee happiness, it’s clearly important to take the time to see where you’re falling short or knocking it out of the park. Ensure your culture is the best it can be by taking the pulse of your people — they’re the real subject matter experts. Then, make any necessary changes based on what they tell you.
Bake DEI into your culture.
DEI initiatives should be part of any workplace culture. Applicants in today’s world consider companies’ commitments to inclusion and diversity when making job decisions, so diversity work needs to be more than just talk. In fact, almost 80% of workers want to work for a company that values DEI. You must be clear about where you stand.
Explain transparently the actionable steps you’re taking to support DEI efforts. For example, have you made changes to your financial and physical environments, talent sourcing, recruitment, employee training, and promotion process? Your internal and external audiences want to know, and you should be ready to show them. It’s an integral part of DEI success and a key aspect of building a strong and authentic culture.
To be frank, employer brands that don’t stand out aren’t worth anyone’s mental bandwidth. Your brand is an opportunity to let potential and current employees know that joining your organization is a chance to be a part of something different.
When we worked with GVC to develop a strategic employer brand, we started by identifying the whitespace in its industry. Looking at its peers gave us a great chance to see what everyone else was saying in the industry, which was used as a springboard to create something new and unique. Note that anything you say must also be true — you can’t just make things up. The trick is telling the truth from a unique perspective that no one else will be able to replicate.
The world is undergoing a massive shift in how people view their work and workplaces. Employers with a bold culture at the root of their employer branding set themselves up to attract not only the best talent but the right talent, benefitting both them and their employees in the end.
How to Align Your Employer Branding With Your Company's Values and Culture
We can't underestimate the role of culture in employer branding. If there's a disconnect between culture and employer brand, employees will experience it and become disillusioned. The impact of culture on employer brand can have a ripple effect across your entire organization. Let's take a quick look at the best methods of aligning culture and employer brand.
1. Be Authentic
Employer branding is about being who you are. You and your organization have to live the culture you want to create. Align your thoughts and actions with your culture in an authentic way and showcase what your employees value most — your employee value proposition or EVP.
2. Demonstrate Your Values and Culture Throughout Your Organisation
Cultural shifts happen from the top and filter throughout a company. When employees see the CEO and management living their authentic version of the company culture, they assimilate it themselves. Every member of every team should be consistent in how they approach their work so the culture and values of your business aren't at odds with leadership and employee behaviors.
Your culture should be a cornerstone of the interviewing process. Screen people carefully from the start and incorporate those that hold your core values. Keep your values in clear sight throughout your organization to subtly remind people of your authentic employer brand.
Culture is ingrained, fluid and consistent. Your communications — internal and external — must mirror the core fundamentals of your culture in an authentic way. They must be consistent about who you are as an organization in the present and where you want to go in the future. Every message has a distinct connection between the culture you're developing and who you really are.
4. Reward People Who Live Your Values
Employees who embrace and apply your values to their workflow are fantastic assets. Take the time to publicly recognize people within your organization who demonstrate your values. When your values are intrinsic to your operational processes and people are recognized when they incorporate them into their work, they're more likely to repeat the behaviors aligned with your values. Over time, it becomes second nature to anyone aligned with your culture.
5. Deliver the Employee Experience
Having a clear strategy in place about how you would like to provide the employee experience is critical. With a strategy in place, you can strive to deliver a consistent employee experience aligned with your brand identity and the culture you're aiming to create.
The employee experience begins with the first exposure a team member has to your brand and permeates through their day-to-day activities and engagement. Employee reviews and performance measurement should also be aligned with your core values. Having a plan in place that ensures your employees experience the benefits and atmosphere associated with your brand helps attract and retain the best people for the job.
When your standards are authentic and you're daily workflow fits seamlessly with your culture, you'll attract the type of employees who augment your existing values and promote your existing culture.