In recent years, a number of companies have embraced the concept of an employer brand — an internal- and external-facing identity that can help increase engagement and boost recruiting efforts.
Fewer, though, have mentioned much about the concept of an employee brand — essentially, the persona each staff member projects in the workplace.
Like a company brand, employee branding can offer individuals a significant advantage, potentially earning them mentoring, advancement and other opportunities.
And, as is true when employers try to establish a public identity, for employee branding efforts to be successful, visibility is key; all the appeal in the world won’t do a worker much good if colleagues and supervisors aren’t aware of it.
Employees need to essentially promote the various aspects of their organizational involvement, ranging from project contributions to volunteering for committees to actively trying to expand their skill set to be thought of as an amiable company asset.
Although workers certainly stand to benefit most from employee branding, employers, too, can reap certain rewards from the effort.
Some may initially view employees’ attempts to convey a personal brand as little more than a campaign to get ahead on charm, instead of hard work. Companies that adopt that approach, however, are missing out on the chance to leverage these ambitious workers to help meet the organization’s staffing, growth and other goals.
Consider the following ways your organization might benefit from employee branding:
To realize the maximum development program ROI, companies need to correctly assess and select the best employees to participate. Valued workers who don’t make a concerted effort to promote the skills and potential they offer can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Employee branding, however, can make a supervisor’s job easy. If more employees begin to focus on developing a workplace identity, they may essentially proactively identify themselves as candidates for development-related programs.
In real life and online, if workers identify themselves as one of your employees, they act as company representatives. That can be a good thing: Research conducted by the Northwestern University Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement found a direct link between employees’ attitude and customer attitudes and behavior.
Employees who openly connect their persona to their job and project their employee brand outward to industry members, friends or other parties are more likely to sing their company’s praises—after all, the better it looks, the more it enhances their image. Happy, proud, invested employees may provide stronger customer service because they believe the outcome personally reflects on them; they may also profess your capabilities to new potential clients they come into contact with.
With companies having a both intentional and often unintentional online presence these days, thanks to job rating sites, message boards and other outlets, candidates are increasingly looking online for insider information about potential employers. Seventy-six percent want details about what makes a company an attractive place to work, according to a Glassdoor survey.
Millennials in particular research prospective company brand and work environment attributes, according to Gallup research. Seventy-five percent seek suggestions from family or friends or get referrals from current company employees.
Current employees can serve as your best brand ambassadors. Even if they don’t suggest specific candidates, asking them to provide a glimpse of the company culture and/or employee value proposition you offer on their social media pages can help publicize your company as a great place to work to acquaintances who, thanks to employee branding, may view the person as a respected, knowledgeable industry member.
For employees to do that type of promotion, however, they need to fully comprehend your brand; and many, according to Gallup, don’t. Its survey of more than 3,000 U.S. workers found only 41 percent felt strongly about their knowledge of their employer’s brand; nearly a quarter felt they didn’t know what their company stood for or how its brand differed from competitors.
Having a defined identity is a crucial part of remaining competitive in the talent market. For more on strengthening your company brand, read our blog posts on how candidates may view your company and how to market your company to potential hires and our white paper on building an effective employer brand.