How to Design Your Employer Brand Experience
Attracting and retaining excellent talent continues to be an ever-increasing challenge. In today’s global business environment, it’s just as important to design your employer brand experience as it is your consumer brand experience.
In today’s global business environment, attracting and retaining excellent talent continues to be an ever-increasing challenge. Prospective employees are more selective than ever, seeking companies that suit their particular wants. Just like the consumer products and service brands they purchase, they have more choice – and more information available about those choices – such as unfiltered insider reviews on websites like Glassdoor. Hence, a company’s employer brand, what it stands for and the experience it promises, are just as important to a prospective employee as the job itself.
An impactful employee experience—one that strategically nurtures employees’ development, effectiveness and enthusiasm for their work—doesn’t happen by chance. It must be intentionally designed to reflect the company’s culture and employer brand proposition and personality. Otherwise, companies risk offering an employee experience that is not distinguishable from other organisations.
Competitive salaries, social activities, health club memberships or great work spaces may be benefits that staff appreciate, but if these aren’t integrated and reflective of the employer brand proposition, they’re simply isolated initiatives that don’t add up to a comprehensive desired experience for employees—namely, one that attracts them to join the organisation, then fosters their long-term commitment and fulfilment of potential in the business.
Whether you’re a start-up or a multinational, when you have a strong employer brand proposition, you can stand out as an employer of choice, attracting and keeping exceptional employees who are the right fit for your organisation and are engaged and committed to your company’s success.
But whose role is it?
Well-meaning intentions to develop the employer brand experience don’t go far in some companies either because no-one is certain of how to go about creating the end-to-end employee experience, or different teams may take responsibility for developing individual parts of the experience, with a holistic approach never achieved.
Companies can have great success in designing an on-brand employee experience when the marketing team, who has experience in designing brand experiences, works hand in hand with the human resources team, who knows the organisation’s talent development plans and has valuable feedback from current employees about their experience at the organisation.
However, it takes every team and every employee in the business to bring the employee experience to life—whether through promotion of the organisation, interview processes, onboarding plans, learning and development programs, social activities, benefits, work environment, leadership and teamwork, and so forth.
Three Stages of Employer Brand Development
Developing an employer brand is similar to developing your consumer or B2B brands. You first need to determine what your brand value proposition is and know who your business is designed to attract (the target employee), as this information guides the design of all aspects that make up your employee experience.
If you are trying to evaluate the current strength of your employer brand offer or are determining how to get started in consciously creating your employer brand, then we recommend evaluating how complete and confident your business is, in three stages.
Stage 1: Know your employer brand story.
Before you begin to design the employee experience, it’s crucial to define exactly what your employer brand stands for. This will reflect what the business is about and how your company wants to differentiate itself from competitors. Establishing the employer brand value proposition is key to knowing which talent to attract to the organisation and what experience you will be able to offer them reflective of your company’s culture and values.
At this stage you also identify the kind of talent you want in your company. What characteristics and skills do they need to possess to deliver the business goals and fit the desired company culture? Equally, what are they looking for when they choose an employer?
Stage 2: Design the employee experience.
Before jumping into ideas for the employee experience, you should have mapped out the steps within the end-to-end employee journey—that is, every touch point an employee (and potential employee) has with your brand. Getting someone from the point at which they’ve first heard about your company to day one on the job can be ten steps alone!
Determining those steps that will truly differentiate your employer brand is key, as this can strongly impact an employee’s perception of your company in a positive way. Using your employer brand story from Stage 1 as your compass, you are able to design the employee experience for these different journey stages to ensure your brand experience is unique.
Like for any brand, developing the employee brand experience is an ongoing process. You are never finished building the brand, as brands evolve and refresh over time.
Stage 3: Implementation is key.
With a clearer idea of what the end-to-end employee experience could be to truly reflect your company’s brand, you can determine which experiences to prioritise implementing—or refreshing, as the case may be, if the experience already exists (such as interview and onboarding processes).
Engagement, communication and training are key to getting your teams onboard, helping them to understand their roles in delivering different stages of the employee experience and achieving a consistent brand experience. After all, they are the employees, so they will be evaluating their experience in working for your organisation. They may not realise that they are also part of delivering the experience to others.
As you continue to bring your employee brand experience to life, internal and external communications promoting your company brand and what working for the company is like, can and should be updated to ensure they reflect the unique brand you have designed.
Engage Your People: A Workshop Approach
When you’re designing your employee experience, your ‘target customer’ is within easy reach and can play a role in determining what the brand experience could be.
Engaging current employees in the design process is an effective way to drive engagement as well as gain direct insights into different parts of the employee experience. One way to do this is through a Brand Experience Design workshop.
The workshop occurs in Stage 2 above. It engages employees from across the business in an ideation and design session for the employee journey map to create the aspirational employee experience, by integrating their insights into what they think is great and not so great, what your targeted talent profile is looking for in an experience, and your brand story from Stage 1. Great ideas can come from anyone!
In our experience, when employees have been engaged in such a workshop—given opportunities to work cross-functionally, be creative and know that their ideas are valued—the implementation is much better received and executed, because the people for whom the brand is created have participated in its creation.
Founder and Managing Director, Brand Journey
Passionate about building brands and developing people, Eve Weatherburn launched Brand Journey to support companies in learning how to make their brands more engaging through designing their customer—or employee—experiences most effectively.
Brand Journey offers a range of brand development services to organisations, including brand audits, developing the brand story and strategy, designing on-brand experiences (including training workshops), developing brand communications message platforms and creating internal brand training tools and programs. We focus as much on the ‘how’ as the ‘what’ needs to be done to ensure successful implementation.
Eve has held prior brand management and marketing leadership roles for a range of global hospitality and experiential luxury and lifestyle brands, including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, and Value Retail China. Having lived and worked in Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, London, Atlanta, Sydney, Vancouver, and now Hong Kong, Eve brings a wealth of global consumer insights and learnings to her approach to brand development.