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What is employer branding? Definition, benefits and strategies

9 min read
employer branding

Employer branding refers to your company’s reputation as an employer from the perspective of past, present, and future employees. It’s a reflection of the value that you provide your workforce, including your organization’s mission, values, and culture.

Whether you have consciously created one or not, your employer brand exists, and it has a big impact on the quality of your workforce. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Randstad, 86% of workers would not apply to work for a company that has a bad reputation with former employees. This means that unless you nurture a positive employer brand, it will be very difficult to attract, hire, and retain qualified, motivated and productive employees to your business.

Read on to find out everything you need to know to create an effective employer branding strategy that helps you stand out from the masses and establish credibility as a desirable and competitive employer.

What is employer branding?

Put simply, employer branding is how you market your company to employees and job seekers. It is the reputation of your organization in the job market, and it reflects the essence of your company: the value that makes you unique. Whether you have intentionally crafted an employer brand, or left it to chance, the job market has an opinion about who you are as an employer and what you stand for.

Your employer brand is built on the perceptions of your past, present and future employees and whether they consider you to be a good company to work for. It is also based on your employee value proposition: the value you offer employees in exchange for their experience, talents and skills. The better you are at promoting your employer brand, the more likely you are to attract and retain a talented workforce.

A strong employer brand connects the values of your organization with your culture, people strategy and internal policies. It is reflected in every stage of your employee lifecycle, from your recruitment practices to your onboarding process, the learning opportunities you offer employees, and the environment you create for your workforce.

It is also reflected in the way you lay off employees, whether you fire employees in the right way, and how you structure your termination letters and manage the offboarding process. Every single touchpoint in the employee experience has a direct impact on your reputation as an employer. This means it is vital that you create an effective employer branding strategy that enables you to promote a positive reputation as a desirable place to work. If you do it well, then you will attract an army of skilled, productive and loyal employees to your business.

Is your employer brand the same as your company brand?

Before we look at why employer branding is so crucial in a bit more detail, it’s important to highlight the difference between your employer brand and your company brand.

As we just mentioned, employer branding is your reputation as an employer. It’s the image that your company reflects in the job market, and it has a direct impact on whether or not potential candidates decide to come and work for you. Essentially, it’s the credibility you have in the eyes of job seekers and whether or not they perceive you as being a good place to work.

Your company brand, in contrast, is your reputation as a company in general. Although this does take into account your reputation in the eyes of your employees, it is also based on the opinions of your clients and of society in general.

For the rest of this guide, we will be focusing on your employer brand: how job seekers perceive you as an employer.

Why is employer branding important?

Employer branding has become an emerging trend in the post-pandemic world. This is due, in part, to an increasingly competitive job market. It has also become a hot topic as a result of a shift in the expectations of employees, especially those from younger generations. There is now more focus on promoting a positive employee experience. This is because younger employees expect more in exchange for their organizational commitment.

Employees these days don’t just consider the salary they are offered – they also strive to work in organizations that provide an enriching culture and a nurturing environment. As a result of this shift in mentality, according to the CIPD’s 2021 Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey, 19% of organizations have already started working on improving their employer brand in order to attract top talent and increase their retention levels. And this figure is growing every day.

A positive employer brand helps you stay relevant and appealing in this increasingly competitive job market. An effective employer branding strategy is therefore a critical element of your overall recruitment strategy. Without one, you will likely struggle to attract the talent you need to make your business a success. You will also find it difficult to build a loyal and engaged workforce that commits to achieving your long-term organizational missions and objectives.

Who is responsible for employer branding?

So, who is responsible for employer branding? HR, the CEO, your employees, or the company as a whole?

The truth is that your employer brand depends on every dimension of your organization. Every interaction has an impact on your reputation as an employer.

HR obviously has an important role to play in creating a positive employer brand. This is because HR creates the policies and procedures that govern the entire employee lifecycle. This includes your recruitment and candidate experience, the salary and benefits you offer, and the learning and development opportunities you provide. It also includes the culture you develop, the sense of diversity you promote, and the way you treat your employees. All this has an impact on the impression you make in the eyes of potential candidates.

However, it’s also important that HR collaborates with other departments within the company in order to promote a positive culture at every level of the company. This includes marketing, public relations, internal and external communications, and corporate responsibility. Every leader in your company needs to understand that the message they transmit and the way they manage their teams both have a direct impact on employer branding.

Your employees themselves also have a part to play. After all, a large part of your external reputation is based on the reviews of current and past employees. These might be in the form of social media posts, reviews on sites like Glassdoor, testimonials on job networking platforms and general face-to-face referrals. That’s why it is so important to create a positive employee experience. The happier your employees are about working for you, the more positive your employer brand will be.

The benefits of creating a positive employer brand

We’ve already discussed many of the reasons why it’s so important for you to create a strong employer brand. However, because it’s so essential, let’s recap some of the specific direct benefits for your business.

Employer branding can help you:

  • Attract top talent to your business as your reputation helps you stand out from your competitors.
  • Spend less time looking for suitable candidates as more job seekers will proactively seek you out if they know you offer a positive work environment.
  • Reduce your time to hire and recruitment costs as candidates are more likely to accept a job offer if you have a positive reputation.
  • Significantly improve the candidate experience.
  • Improve retention rates and reduce your turnover as employees value working at companies where they are nurtured and can thrive.
  • Improve employee morale and engagement and foster a productive working environment.
  • Build a more qualified and loyal workforce where employees are motivated to work harder.
  • Gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded job market.
  • Build a solid brand reputation that boosts your credibility with customers.

How to build an effective employer brand strategy

So, we’ve seen how having a clearly defined employer brand can help you find the right candidates, attract them to your business, engage your employees and build a loyal and productive workforce. But how do you build an employer brand that does all this? What does it involve?

The key is designing, developing and implementing a solid employer branding strategy that takes into account every touchpoint in the candidate and employee experience.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when you create your strategy.

Establish your employer branding goals

The first stage in creating your employer branding strategy should be identifying what your specific goals are. Obviously, your ultimate objective is to create a positive employer brand reputation. However, you should try to break this objective down into smaller goals. This will help you understand what you need to work on in order to boost your reputation.

For example, your specific employer branding goals might be:

  • Get more job applicants
  • Increase the level of high-quality candidates that make it through your recruitment funnel
  • Improve the candidate experience
  • Speed up your time to hire
  • Raise awareness of your employer brand in the job market
  • Build trust with current candidates
  • Decrease turnover and associated recruitment costs
  • Receive more referrals from existing employees
  • Boost your offer-acceptance rate

You should also conduct a thorough employer brand audit. This will help you determine what you are doing well and which areas you need to work on.

A good place to start with this is by looking at what your past employees have to say about you. Conduct a full audit of all your exit interview notes and try to identify any common themes. Check out your employer reviews on Glassdoor and see what your ex-employees have to say about you on social media.

This is the best way to collect honest feedback about how employees see you. This is because once someone has left your company, they have no reason to hold back. Every disgruntled ex-employee is an opportunity to find out how you can be a better employer.

Define your employee value proposition

One of the key elements of your employer branding strategy is your employee value proposition. In other words, what you have to offer potential candidates.

Your employee value proposition (EVP) showcases the unique benefits an employee gets if they decide to join your business. It defines the essence of who you are as a company: what you stand for, and what you have to offer. The better your offer, the more likely you are to attract, motivate and retain top talent in your organization.

Put simply, your EVP is the value you offer potential new employees in return for their commitment to your organization. It’s how you entice new recruits to join your business; what you offer in return for the skills and experience they will bring to your organization. Your offer should take into account everything you offer your workforce. This includes benefits and compensation, training opportunities, your culture and working environment, the tools and resources you provide, and the quality of your leadership.

Make sure your EVP takes into account the five key areas of your business:

  • Compensation
  • Work-life balance
  • Stability
  • Location
  • Respect

Above all, the best way to stand out is to create an EVP that is unique and compelling. Make sure it is also aligned with your strategic objectives and values as a company. Remember, it should help to differentiate you as a desirable employer and inspire people to want to find out more about your business.

Cultivate a strong onboarding process

Your recruitment and onboarding processes represent the first impression a potential new employee has of you as a business. Even if you have a solid employer brand, if a candidate has a bad experience at this first stage of the employee cycle, then they will not think favorably of you as an employer. And they certainly won’t be a good employer brand ambassador for you.

Therefore, part of your employer branding strategy should be focused on developing a strong onboarding experience for new candidates. Make sure all your processes are clearly defined and that candidates receive clear and concise communications at every stage of the application and onboarding process. First impressions are powerful, and they can make or break your reputation as an employer.

You should also make sure you use the right tools to improve your onboarding process. For example, a talent acquisition platform can help you source and screen potential applicants so that you get more quality candidates in your recruitment pipelines, helping you create more efficient recruiting cycles that add value to your business. And this is the best way to create a strong candidate pipeline and offer the best possible experience to your applicants.

Offer learning and development opportunities

Your greatest asset is your people, and their value is determined by the time and energy you invest in them. The more you nurture your employees with strong talent development strategies, the more you will gain as an organization. Benefits include increased employee engagement and retention rates, innovation and creativity, and gaining a competitive edge. Plus, it’s a highly effective strategy for creating a strong employer brand. After all, most employees want to work for a company that nurtures and develops their talent.

Nurture employee engagement

One of the best ways to build a solid reputation is to implement a series of employee engagement strategies. The right strategies can help you nurture a positive employee experience. And this is the key to building a workforce that is focused, productive, and committed to your organization.

Employee engagement is about the emotional and psychological connection your employees feel toward the organization as a whole. In other words, it’s about how your workforce feels about the employee experience that you offer – how enthusiastic and dedicated they are.

Engaged employees show up earlier, work harder, and are more invested in helping their companies achieve organic growth. They are also more likely to stay with their employers, helping to reduce turnover and boosting growth. And the happier and more engaged your employees are, the more they will promote your business as a good place to work.

Create a strong diversity and inclusion initiative

Diversity and inclusion has been a hot topic over the past few years. This is due in part to globalization. However, it is also because the world is changing. Society is more aware of the detrimental effects of discrimination and negative bias. As a result, there is an increasing need for organizations to focus on DEI practices that promote inclusive hiring.

One of the most effective strategies for strengthening your employer brand is promoting yourself as an equal opportunities employer. Show your commitment to building diverse teams. Create an environment where all employees feel safe, comfortable and valued at work. That way, you will attract far more quality candidates to your business and boost your employer brand.

However, the inclusive hiring process goes beyond simply recruiting candidates from underrepresented backgrounds for the sake of “appearing” to be diverse. Rather, it is about creating a level playing field. One where all potential candidates are given an equal opportunity in the hiring process.

Above all, remember that, employer branding is not about what you do, it’s about who you are. The best way to create a positive brand is to promote your values and true identity. Focus less on what people say about you, and more on generating authentic positive experiences for each and every employee at your company.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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