There exists some great advice in the world. One that we’ve all come across at one point or another is “Fake it till you make it.” This is valuable advice and holds true for all individuals. However, when it comes to employer branding, it might well be the perfect recipe for disaster. I am aware that there exists a school of thought that believes if you label yourself as a ‘best place to work’ year after year, at some point your employees and the world outside will start believing you. My advice – take that energy and invest it in actually making the organization a better place to work at. There is nothing worse than advertising a great workplace and luring employees to join only for them to discover that they were conned. There is no coming back from that.
I know I know – easier said than done. 80% of the world’s organization lie flat in the middle, a 15% at the bottom and a mere 5% at the top of the curve (the bell curve holds true here too). Those at the top have a number of factors that put them there, luck being one. So how does employee branding really work? Do you resign to the fact that you are an average workplace and twiddle thumbs? Of course not!
Begin with the truth
Unless you are at the bottom 5%, there is something about your organization that employees like. It could be the great work from home policy, the flexible hours, opportunities to move internally or even the free snacks. Dig in to figure what employees like about the organization. These do not essentially need to be a differentiating factor; a million other organizations could be offering the same benefits. What you do with the information is the differentiating factor. You package it and hand it back like a bright shiny Christmas present. Faking isn’t allowed, however, packaging, marketing and slight exaggeration is. So take the thing your employees love and tell them more about it. If all they love is the free snacks and the bright office space, tell them this is the ‘happiest’ workspace, one where they can immerse themselves in the modern amenities, work in the lap of luxury and be well nourished because ‘studies show all of those contribute to a happy workforce’.
Identify the derailers
During the discovery phase, you might find some irritants that may hinder your marketing campaign. Treat them like weeds and get rid of them quick. Pull in any team that can help fix these derailers. They dull the shine. If they love the free food and you come across slight grumbling about it being only junk food, work quickly to fix it.
Marketing is good, exaggeration is good but outright lies will put an organization into trouble. There is a raging debate on how authentic should employer branding be. The answer is somewhere between authentic enough to not land you in a lawsuit and a little too authentic. Fight the sweet balance and you’ll nail it.
How authentic is your employer branding strategy?