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Every employer has a brand. What’s yours?

Employer branding can seem a baffling concept, and one that is only applicable to larger organisations. But believe it or not, every company ­– from a local pub to a multinational restaurant chain – has a brand. And while salary is thought to be the overriding factor when considering a new role, 35% of employees view a trusted employer brand as more important than the figure on their pay slip.

So how do companies get a better idea of what its brand looks like, in order to effectively channel it? Or, if they don’t yet have one, how should they go about developing one? So many questions!

First up, for those nodding along but reluctant to admit they don’t know what an employer brand is, here’s a short explanation…

An employer brand creates the perceptions that current and potential employees have of an organisation and is why the hires it wants to attract would want to sign up.

Why do companies need one?

The current jobs market is highly competitive from an employer’s point of view, especially in sectors requiring niche skills. This means that the more clearly defined and audible a company’s employer brand is, the more likely they are to attract and retain the top talent that’s out there. More than half (56%) of recruiters say employer branding is a top priority, and employers with a strong talent brand drive twice the amount of applicants per job compared to other companies.

What’s more, 67% of employers believe that retention rates would be higher if candidates had a clearer picture of what to expect from working at the company before taking the job. See: it pays to know who you are.

Who’s doing it well?

Pret A Manger

As well as purveyors of organic fast food, Pret is a trailblazer in employer branding. The high-street eatery was the talk of the industry earlier this year when a complaint on social media turned into a hilarious Twitter exchange – not to mention an impressive three-hour rap battle – that showcased their vibrant, playful company culture and employer brand. A spokesperson for Pret said: “Having fun with our customers is a big part of what makes us tick – both in our shops and on social media.”

Staff at Pret are hired not on the strength of a traditional CV, but on whether they possess the three core Pret behaviours: passion, team-working and clear talking.

The company provides a wealth of training opportunities and invests heavily in award schemes. Each week, for example, every shop has a mystery shopper who is looking for engagement with a team member. If the mystery shopper has a good experience, team members are paid an extra £1 an hour for every hour they have worked for the week. “Eighty per cent of our shops get the bonus every week,” says Pret’s Director of People Andrea Wareham. Impressive stuff.

Measuring the brand – why would someone want to work for you?

Tools such as employee satisfaction surveys, employee workshops and exit interviews can all provide invaluable insight into what a company’s brand looks like. But to begin with, they should be asking their people these key questions:

  • What are the most attractive and compelling attributes of the organisation to current and potential employees?
  • What are the current perceptions of working within the organisation? How are they affecting current ability to recruit top talent?
  • What percentage of employees would recommend the company as a great place to work?

With a clearer understanding of these areas, companies can define where they are now, what they would like their employer brand to be and the steps required to get there – all of which form the backbone for an employer brand strategy.