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How to Cultivate an Authentic Employer Brand

BY Jennifer Paxton / October 17th, 2022 / 5 MIN READ

The importance of creating a strong employer brand is a relatively new idea that has been quickly gaining momentum. Companies are realizing that crafting a strong employer brand can help break through the clutter in this candidate-driven market and communicate the value that their organization can uniquely deliver. 

It’s important to note though that your employer brand is only valuable to your organization and to potential employees if it’s authentic. In contrast, using performative employer branding (communicating something that you’re not) actually does more harm than good. 

The Importance of Authentic Employer Branding

An employer brand is the outward expression of your company’s internal employee experience. Employer branding answers a basic question: What’s it like to work here? This can help you zero in on your employer value proposition (EVP) which is the selling point of what your workplace has to offer.

The Value of Authenticity in Recruitment Marketing

In order for your brand to be effective, it must be authentic. Too many employers make the mistake of using performative employer branding — advertising one company culture during recruitment — only to blindside employees once they join the company.

This sort of bait-and-switch approach doesn’t work and it can erode employee trust, which can lead to poor employee engagement and higher levels of turnover. Employer branding demands total transparency as well as an accurate representation of your company culture.

Benefits for Employees

A transparent, authentic recruitment process ensures greater candidate satisfaction and engagement. During the recruitment process, applicants may be less inclined to drop out of your recruitment marketing funnel when they have a clear understanding of what to expect from your workplace culture. 

Once hired, your workers will feel that they got what they bargained for, and their actual experience of working for you matches the expectations created by your employer brand. And, when you solicit input from your current employees to hone your brand/EVP, your workers will feel more respected, valued and engaged in your company’s processes.

Benefits for Employers

Authentic employer branding helps companies attract workers who will integrate well into the company culture. In the short term, this streamlines your recruitment efforts, and transparent branding can pay long-term dividends as well.

Satisfied workers tend to be more productive and less likely to look elsewhere for employment. Long-term employees can develop skills that augment your operational effectiveness, and with lower employee turnover, you’ll spend less money on future recruitment efforts.

How to Use Employee Surveys to Generate Authentic Content

The success of your recruitment marketing depends on creating content that reflects the culture of your workplace. What’s the best way to assess your company culture? Simple: ask the people who make up your current workforce. Employee surveys can provide you with honest feedback that helps you cultivate your employer brand. Surveys might also pinpoint areas of friction that should be addressed before onboarding a new team member.

Here are some of today’s best practices for designing and implementing employee surveys.

1. Make It a Habit

Conducting surveys at regular intervals will provide consistent data to work from, and it can also enable you to track trends over time. Make employee surveys a regular part of your company culture. The frequency is up to you. Stick to a schedule to ensure greater accountability and full participation.

Try using Office Vibe Pulse Surveys to check in with your employees. You can send surveys on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and they are designed to be quick, simple and integrated into the natural workflow. Pulse Surveys also provide you with clear reports to help you analyze employee engagement and make informed decisions.

2. Set Clear Goals

Start by identifying your goals for sending out an employee survey. Having a clear objective in mind can help you zero in on a short set of questions that you can ask your employees rather than simply designing a survey for the sake of completing an administrative task.

Defining your objective will also help you evaluate your data. Starting with a clear question (e.g., “Do employees prefer working from home?”) can ensure that your survey results answer your initial question and help you make decisions accordingly.

3. Pursue Anonymous Feedback

You’ll get the most honest feedback by keeping your surveys anonymous. Employees will feel freer to share their experiences and voice their concerns when they don’t have to worry about how their employer might react.

Don’t let anonymous surveys make you nervous. Employees generally won’t use this opportunity to vent. On the contrary, many employee surveys end up soliciting positive feedback that can help you refine your recruitment marketing efforts or employer branding strategy.

4. Shorter Is Better

Employees will be more willing to complete employer surveys when they fit more comfortably into the overall workflow. Shorter surveys, therefore, are preferable to longer ones. This is another reason why it’s wise to refine your objective before you design the survey, so you can focus on the areas that really matter. It also means you won’t have to worry about sifting through less relevant questions, and you can stay focused on your core areas of interest.

Here’s a helpful rule of thumb: the more frequently you send out surveys, the shorter they should be. Weekly questionnaires might best be capped at five questions, while you can save longer surveys for quarterly or annual evaluations.

5. Communicate Your Objectives to Your Employees

If you’re just beginning to implement surveys in your workplace, it helps to tell your employees what to expect. This might mean sharing your larger goal or explaining what employees might expect from the survey. When using the survey method for branding and recruitment, your employees may feel valued that you’re taking their feedback into consideration.

At the same time, make sure to respond to your employees’ feedback. This might mean verbally acknowledging a common trend from survey responses and taking steps to address this feedback. If nothing changes, employees may find themselves feeling unheard and less willing to engage in future surveys.

6. Seek Permission to Use Employee Feedback

While anonymous surveys provide unparalleled honesty, there’s something to be said for designing surveys that solicit positive employee feedback. After all, some of the best ways to sell your company to potential recruits are with the positive testimony of your current employees. You can use positive employee feedback in your recruitment materials, website or other marketing content to engage applicants better.

Just make sure to ask permission from that employee before publishing their remarks publicly. Naturally, this is impossible with an anonymous survey, so you may want to periodically ask for surveys to attach their name to their feedback or at least give employees the option of identifying themselves when they submit a survey.

7. Leverage the Data Wisely

Don’t just listen to your executives to craft your employer value proposition. Your employer brand should directly reflect the input from those with boots on the ground, so to speak, which is why your survey data can be invaluable in communicating your company culture.

This means looking at data from individual surveys, as well as monitoring workplace trends over time. The data you receive can help you refine your EVP and showcase your strengths, and it can also highlight weak points you may want to address to keep your current employees fully engaged even while you pursue further recruiting opportunities.

Cultivating a Strong Employer Brand

Your company’s culture is constantly flowing, continually changing and progressively evolving. Integrating employee surveys can help you step into the flow of your company culture and gather the most relevant information to hone your recruitment marketing strategy and present the most authentic employer brand.

Jennifer Paxton is the Co-Founder of Jamyr, a platform which helps busy recruiting teams scale employee-generated video content, and the Vice President of People at Smile.io, the world's largest loyalty program provider.

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