Transparency and authenticity are already embraced by many of you in employer branding. You may be sharing employee stories and testimonials, showing behind-the-scenes glimpses of the workplace, and being open about the company’s mission.
And this is a wonderful start!
However, these examples are longer a new thing for your target audience. In fact, they are more like a standard expectation from your employees and job seekers.
That’s why this is not where your ambitions should be. It’s just the beginning to get you started.
Welcome back to another episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast!
In this episode, we’re diving deep into a topic becoming the heartbeat of modern businesses – Transparency and authenticity in employer branding.
Let me tell you, this notion isn’t just a trend; it’s a movement. And you better get your boots on board, too, not to miss this vessel!
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Transparency and authenticity for successful employer branding
Companies across the globe are realising that to attract and sustain top talent, they need to be transparent and genuine and let their employees’ voices be heard.
How do you embrace transparency and authenticity in employer branding?
Let me explain.
Embracing authenticity in employer branding means showcasing the authentic culture and values of an organisation, but especially, being vulnerable and humane in its branding efforts.
It’s about being genuine and transparent with existing and future employees about what it’s really like to work at the company.
What are the actual experiences, not the cherry-picked experiences of working in this company and living the life this employer provides and supports? Or doesn’t.
Authentic employer branding doesn’t try to paint an unrealistically perfect picture; instead, it presents an honest narrative that resonates with current and potential employees. That is recognisable by your employees.
It’s about being a human to other humans.
Authenticity also helps to set realistic expectations for candidates, reducing turnover and increasing job satisfaction, empowering employees to survive and thrive and growing a shared commitment to reach goals and cross hurdles that keep showing up in today’s business environment.
Going deeper than the surface
Many of you already embrace transparency by sharing employee stories and testimonials, showing behind-the-scenes glimpses of the workplace, and being open about the company’s mission. And this is a wonderful start!
However, this is longer a new thing, more like a standard expectation from employees and job seekers. And that’s why this is not where your ambitions should be. It’s just the beginning to get you started.
It was new and very ambitious when I began writing stories like that for my clients in 2011. That’s why it was super easy to win job seekers’ attention and help our clients reach incredible success in talent acquisition.
But this level of transparency is unfortunately no longer enough. We have to go deeper.
We have to be even more authentic and vulnerable, more real.
This is where most employers will get scared and choose the easy way out. And that’s why this is the blue ocean for you guys in my tribe because you are not scared to be real, and that’s why your opportunities to win the required brand trust big time are here.Susanna Rantanen
This is where most employers will get scared and choose the easy way out. And that’s why this is the blue ocean for you guys in my tribe because you are not scared to be real, and that’s why your opportunities to win the trust are here.
How did we get here in employer branding?
Let’s explore how we got here and how employer branding has evolved.
Gone are the days of glossy brochures and scripted testimonials.
In today’s digital age, potential employees seek real stories, unfiltered insights, and a transparent culture they can relate to and learn about before thinking about changing jobs.
Promoting jobs on traditional media isn’t it
For those of you who have been working in this field for a long time, when employer branding was first coined at the end of the 1990s, employer branding was primarily about recruitment campaigns and some image and perception management.
The focus was on creating a desirable image to attract talent.
Don’t get me wrong. We still see tons of companies following this traditional route of polished recruitment marketing materials, controlled messaging, and showcasing only the positives of working at the company.
Employer value propositions aren’t it
I had been working in employer branding for a couple of years when the shift to formulating EVPs (employee value propositions) took place.
As the job market became more competitive, companies started to realise the importance of differentiating themselves through what they offered and how they made their employees feel.Susanna Rantanen
As the job market became more competitive, companies started to realise the importance of differentiating themselves through what they offered and how they made their employees feel. This led to the concept of the Employee Value Proposition.
I remember at the time this must have been around 2005 or 2006. I spoke at a Universum event in Helsinki, Finland, and we talked about copy-paste EVP slogans.
I don’t think we’ve passed this era yet. You can still see pretty awful EVPs that are so generic that if you removed the company name and logo, any employer could use the same slogans.
So, EVPs aren’t your route to transparency and authenticity.
Bringing company culture and employee experiences to the table
When I founded my first company in 2010, we started to offer content marketing for recruiting employers. Our first content offer was called Feature Article, which was a sidekick for the job post and focused on the culture of the hiring employer or team.
This, together with the job post, formed the recruitment campaign content and was a huge success for multiple years until everyone started doing these articles, and the practice became a standard thing on the market.
This was a turning point for the market. Employers started to understand the importance of sharing internal experiences and the unique aspects of a company’s culture, benefits, and career opportunities.Susanna Rantanen
However, this was a turning point for the market.
Employers started to understand the importance of sharing internal experiences and the unique aspects of a company’s culture, benefits, and career opportunities.
My second business (the current), Employer Branding Agency Emine was founded on this very discovery of mine in 2012: developing, communicating and marketing company cultures and employee experiences.
In fact, our first name was Employee Experience Agency Emine until we changed it to employer branding a few years ago.
The way to transparency and authenticity: The digital revolution and social media impact
The greatest evolution in employer branding by far has been the digital revolution.
The free online access and various digital platforms and tools for creating and publishing content, connecting and networking with people worldwide have been revolutionary for employer branding, career development and recruiting.
Finding any information you desire and getting access to the (other) candidate and employee sources for their experiences continues to be an incredible opportunity for us all.
This significant development has allowed us to properly separate recruitment marketing from employer branding and create more impact and value for the business through transparency and authenticity.Susanna Rantanen
This significant development has allowed us to properly separate recruitment marketing from employer branding and create more impact and value for the business through transparency and authenticity.
The widespread requirement for transparency and authenticity
With the digital transformation came a widespread requirement for transparency—a requirement for your business and workplace to become transparent and more authentic.
Employees today play a vital role in employer branding. Their stories, testimonials, and experiences are sought for and shared on social platforms, allowing job seekers and competitors to discover your truth.
Or is it the truth or just versatile perceptions based on various experiences, assumptions and misbeliefs?
Disappointed and poorly treated job seekers are the first to reveal their candidate experiences.
Companies and organisations with societal impact easily get into the hands of the media, and the outcome is not always favourable.
If you are not on social media as a company, you do not exist to your potential customers.
If you are not on social media as an employer, you do not exist to your potential candidates.
Do you let others define who you are as an employer and a workplace, or is it time to claim the authority of your being?
The era of transparency and authenticity
A demand for transparency and authenticity is heavily characterised in this current era.
Prospective employees seek genuine insights into a company’s culture, including its challenges and how it addresses them. And not just your employees but also those people working at competition. Probably also your clients and other stakeholders!
This is not always a bad thing. Especially when you turn this expectation to your advantage to win these people’s trust.
The great thing about employer brand content marketing is that it gives you the control and many opportunities to build trust showcasing your expertise and authority, and building your credibility.
Regarding topics of importance and interest, it is no longer about culture, values, or benefits and perks that people want to learn about. These are now a standard expectation.
Employer branding now also encompasses the company’s stance on social issues, diversity and inclusion policies, and environmental impact. It’s about presenting a holistic view of the company.
And not even just these examples! But also a growing emphasis on mental health, work-life balance, family values, continuous learning opportunities, navigating in a hybrid workplace and innovating and envisioning the future.
What do we know about the future of employer branding?
We know that as the world changes, employer branding will continue evolving.
Employer branding is the process of building and growing affinity, getting under the skin of your target audience and building those emotional connections between what your company represents and what is important for the people in your audience.
While the concept of employer brand is unlikely to change, the act of employer branding will. It will evolve with technology and consumer behaviour, just like we have seen during the past 20 years.
Employer branding will evolve as we get new tools and ways to connect with our audiences, grow awareness and build affinity. As we learn from insight and get access to better data, we learn what works and what doesn’t with more precision.
Best employer branding strategies are rooted in reality
The best employer branding strategies today are those that are rooted in reality. They are unique to your organisation and made from authentic ingredients, inviting your audience to your employer brand story.
They showcase the authentic experience of working at the company, warts and all, and focus on building a community rather than just a workforce. They include everyone in the organisation’s payroll – also freelancers, subcontractors and other partners your people work with.
And more than anything, employer branding is a communication and engagement process, a dialogue or conversation between humans.
No one is interested to hear what a corporate logo has to announce. This development we have been able to witness already for some years.
Human-to-human marketing is becoming increasingly vital and has a multiple times better impact on branding than corporate or business marketing. I want to emphasize here that human-to-human impact is much less expensive to achieve than what it costs to create the same impact as a business or a corporation.Susanna Rantanen
Let me repeat: Human-to-human marketing is becoming increasingly vital and has a multiple times better impact on branding than corporate or business marketing.
And what I want to emphasise here is that human-to-human impact is much less expensive to achieve than what it costs to create the same impact as a business or a corporation.
Showcasing empathy and authority, building trust and influencing your audience
Showcasing empathy and authority, building trust and influencing your audience is where you are expected to go in employer branding.
Modern employer branding is a strategic approach, not a recruitment campaign based on your organizational needs and requests.
It is a consistent communication process that helps to build a strong, engaged, and committed workforce internally.
At the same time, it grows a relevant audience externally, who begin to trust you, learn to see you as a credible and humane employer and starts to consider you as an authority worth listening to and following.
I created The Magnetic Employer Branding Method™️ as a systematic approach helping you to create and maintain this consistent communication process and achieve trust, credibility and authority as the employer.
This method gives you the blueprint and a plan to navigate the crucial world of employer branding and create the impact you and your organisation can feel.
An impact that accumulates long-term value for the business and makes retaining and attracting talents much easier than a one-off campaign.
That paves your way (working in employer branding) to career experiences that you probably haven’t experienced but are likely to open new and inspiring horizons for you as an employer branding professional.
This is the future of employer branding.
Listen, we plan to launch the Certified Magnetic Employer Brand Manager™️ -program in 2024 and have a short survey for those enthusiastic about a career in employer branding. And not just that, but those of you who see employer branding the same way I and my team at Employer Branding Agency Emine do. And would like to become certified as a proper employer brand manager.
Please spare us a little moment to share your ideas and feedback on this survey here.
We appreciate your input and feedback and have a special offer for those serious about becoming certified as A Certified Magnetic Employer Brand Manager™️. When you respond to this survey and give us permission to email you, we will offer you a significant discount when we do our first launch in 2024.
Ok, that’s all for this week, my friends!
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Until next week! Moi moi! Thanks for tuning in.