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The Critical Role of Culture in Employer Branding

4 min read.



Employer Branding

Employer branding is everything the world believes about your company, from the inside out. Your employer brand reputation 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. This puts them at a huge disadvantage. When they thoughtfully create and cultivate their employer brand, however, they see transformative results.

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 résumés 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:

  1. 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 7 out of 10 people say they wouldn’t work for even a leading company if it had a bad culture, 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.

  2. 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, 61% of people think DEI strategies are essential. 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.
  1. Go bold.

    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 the way 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.

Want to learn more about culture and employer branding and how both can help your company succeed? Download our whitepaper “How to Wield the Power of Employer Branding​” here.

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