Employer brand is a term used to describe the reputation and popularity of a company as an employer and the value that that company provides to its employees
The term “brand” comes from the world of marketing and represents the sum of the user’s perception of the company, reputation, quality of service, values, etc.
Employer branding is currently one of the most important activities of every company or HR team, for the reason that a clearly defined employer branding strategy enables employers to find, attract, and employ the best workers and talents, but also to retain quality existing staff.
In the article, the author explains the importance and role of employer branding in the labor market with reference to the steps for building the employer’s image and a successful employer branding strategy.
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What is a brand – in general?
The terms employer brand and employer branding are relatively new terms. Basically, they are based on assumptions previously developed in marketing, which were related to product branding, the goal of which was, as a rule, to differentiate one’s own product from that of competitors.
A product brand can be defined as a name, term, sign, symbol, design, or a combination thereof, the purpose of which is to identify the goods and services of a seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from competing products. In other words, a brand is a mixture of tangible and intangible characteristics, that is, the sum of ideas, concepts, and/or ideas that consumers or users have about a particular product, service, or company. Building an employer’s brand also aims at differentiation, or more precisely, differentiation of the employer in relation to other employers.
Therefore, the American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination, used for the purpose of identifying the goods or services of one manufacturer or group of manufacturers or differentiating them from competitors’ brands.
Differentiating some products is possible solely because of brands, that is, associations that consumers associate with them. The selection of brand elements is a certain assumption (along with all other marketing activities to achieve brand awareness), through a desirable and unique perception and feeling towards the brand. When choosing brand elements, it is necessary to adhere to six criteria: memorability, meaning, likability, transferability, adaptability, and protectability.
The brand is in many ways the most valuable asset of any company, it enables the organization to effectively communicate with its market. The message of a product brand is an expression of its internal content, that is, its identity ensures the coherence of that internal content with its verbal and visual attributes. As we have already pointed out, the brand in its creation implies differentiation.
Brands are the most important element that has developed in commerce. Brand creation today has gone far from its commercial origins. Brands are not only tied to products but are widely and successfully applied to numerous services, ideas, profit and non-profit organizations and companies, people (influencers or brand representatives), lifestyle, food (chefs, restaurant chains), social movements, political parties, and many other ideas.
A brand can be seen as creating a relationship with clients due to the number and complexity of stimuli that clients are exposed to on a daily basis. The evolution of the brand can also be viewed through the level of relationship with clients, i.e. what the brand wants to be for the client or actually is. Brand culture signifies high involvement and value for customers. Brands play a big role for their owners. In addition, they have social and societal influence in today’s modern world. Likewise, brands influence the way of life and participate in the creation of a lifestyle.
Nowadays, it is unthinkable that a serious company does not work on building the brand of its products or services. The brand must communicate externally and internally with the target market. The brand is connected with the company’s mission and vision. Also, if employees do not believe in the brand and do not share the values of everything that is the company’s brand, it is impossible to expect clients to believe in it.
Communicating the brand to all spheres of business is of crucial importance. The brand has physical features that are very important for its understanding and recognition. Brands can be perceived as having some human or animal characteristics. Celebrities promote brands with the intention of projecting their qualities onto the brand. The brand has an impact on every product or service that the brand owns. It is the basic idea and value system that the company wants to market. Brands differ in their relationships and ways of relating to their customers.
On the other hand, the employer’s brand, in the shortest terms, can be defined as a package of functional, economic, and psychological benefits that the employment status in the organization brings, and is identified and associated with the employer. Building an employer brand is the process of creating the company’s identity and image, that is, a long-term strategy that establishes a recognizable identity of the organization as a desirable employer. More will be said about the employer’s brand in the rest of this article.
Considering the aforementioned brand definitions, what does the employer brand represent in a broader sense and what does it encompass? Therefore, it is about highlighting and presenting a certain company as a desirable place to work, in order to attract (for employment) and retain talented employees.
Basically – employer branding is primarily focused on the quality of job candidate applications and the ability to attract talented employees at the moment when the company has this need. The purpose of the employer brand is not to attract thousands of candidates, but only a few excellent ones who will want to accept the job. The goal is to achieve the efficiency of the recruitment process, and the purpose of recruitment is to hire the best candidates.
Furthermore, building an employer brand also tends to differentiate the employer from other employers. The reasons for its emergence are multiple, namely, the modern economy is characterized by a strong foundation of knowledge, whereby the importance of human resources, and employees becomes of key importance and becomes a factor of competitive advantage.
As a rule, special or talented employees are always lacking, that is, they are the ones who can make a difference and strongly contribute to the development of the company. It is precisely for this reason that companies strive to acquire particularly talented individuals on the market. Thus, states and organizations are increasingly struggling to attract capable, knowledgeable employees skilled in various fields. In order for a company to be able to differentiate itself and place a unique and attractive value proposition on the market, it must know the wishes, needs, and preferences of its employees.
An employer brand is defined as a strategy intended to differentiate a particular company from its competition and is characterized by social, economic, developmental, reputational, and distinctive values.
In other words, an employer brand is a reputation intended to attract future and retain current employees. The term employer brand can be defined as a package of functional, economic, and psychological benefits achieved through employment, which are identified with a specific company. These benefits are parallel to those that a conventional product brand offers to consumers, in the sense that the usefulness of the product is considered a functional benefit, financial profitability is an economic benefit, and the feeling of belonging is a psychological benefit.
Furthermore, the employer brand emphasizes the unique characteristics of the company’s offer or its work environment that differentiates it from its competitors. Starting from the resource-based view theory, the employer brand is based on the assumption that employees are a key resource that contributes to competitive advantage and its value cannot be easily replicated. One goal of the employer branding process is to differentiate the employer in the labor market, while the other goal is to maintain employee commitment to the organization through a sense of unity with the brand.
Companies around the world face numerous challenges, employees who can add value become an important success factor in the knowledge-based economy, and the view of them is changing. From a cost burden, employees become a factor of competitive advantage. Therefore, the philosophy of managing this important resource is also changing, and approaches are being developed with the aim of attracting the best employees and at the same time encouraging existing employees to give their best.
Creating and strengthening the image in the public becomes one of the basic strategies of service companies, because for the user, especially for the user of services, a company with a better-positioned image on the market has greater value. The above also applies to attracting and retaining employees.
In the marketing dictionary, an image is defined as an emotional image or image of a certain marketing object, e.g. product or company. The concept of the image was originally associated with the personality and behavior of a person so that its meaning could be understood as closely as possible, while today it is defined as a cognitive image of a company, product, person, process, or situation that individual shapes on the basis of all previous experience, attitudes, opinions, and ideas that are more or less aligned with real features.
Image construction consists of three items, and they are:
- perception – represents the process of receiving, interpreting, and storing communication content in the cognitive structure of an individual, while subliminal perception is the idea that it is possible to influence human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors through various stimuli without the conscious knowledge of the person being influenced. Perception, therefore, represents a key element of human psychology because it is the link between the external world and the psychological structure of the individual and creates an image of the stimuli of the external world, giving them meaning and forming opinions and attitudes. From the point of view of marketing communication, perception represents the most important complex psychological concept because the consumer perceives each position conveyed by the communication process in a specific way and shapes his behavior based on that.
- identity – basically represents a set of characteristics opinions and beliefs of the recipient about the characteristics of a product, company, facility, country, etc.
- attitude – represents the belief and ability to act aligned with internal values and directed toward objects or situations
The image of the company in marketing is one of the most important elements in the overall evaluation of the service and in the evaluation of the company itself. The image of the company is what most influences the perception of quality, satisfaction, and loyalty. Image is a person’s first impression of a company, and it very often has an impact on a person’s decision whether to buy from the company or cooperate with it. Image and brand are definitely connected.
Businesses must be aware that there is a difference between how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by the public. When they realize this fact, they have to work on identity management, which is the basis for their positioning in the market.
A brand is not only the visual identity of a product or company, it includes the brand’s personality and values, communication style, reputation, and consumer experiences. We have a direct influence on part of the above, but we cannot influence some things.
So, brand identity represents the part we have influence over, the way we choose to build our brand, and everything we create as part of that within the company (how we present it, visual identity, “voice” and personality…). is how we define it and how we want the public to perceive it. Brand identity is the most effective way any organization, product, or expert can gain a competitive advantage in today’s oversaturated market.
On the other hand, the brand image represents the customer’s complete impression of our brand and the way the audience perceives it, and that part is beyond our control. Its creation is influenced by the brand identity we have created, but also by all interactions that a person has had with our brand or received from other sources. Brand image is what a customer thinks and feels when they hear about our brand, and it can be positive or negative.
Employer branding can be described as the reputation, that is, the popularity of the company as an employer and the values that the company advocates, as well as everything that it provides to its employees.
In today’s demanding “war” for talent, employer branding is extremely important for attracting quality candidates. The main goal of employer branding is to attract the best candidates on the market but also to retain existing talents. The biggest part of the employer branding process is the task of HR, with the close support of the Management, but also cooperation with all other parts of the business entity, especially the marketing department.
High-quality employer branding serves the company to attract the best candidates, retain existing talents, and create engaged employees who will not leave the same company, which will ultimately result in the achievement of the set business goals. Satisfied and engaged employees will promote the company’s brand itself and thus positively influence the attraction of new talented personnel.
In the business world today, reputation is everything. Because of reputation, deals are made and clients are obtained, and lately, it has become a way of attracting employees. Employer branding consists of cooperation between several company departments (most often IT, marketing, and human resources) in order to create the status of a successful and desirable employer.
When a certain company acquires the status of a desirable employer, it has a greater chance of attracting and retaining the best candidates on the labor market, especially as regards those who are passive, i.e. candidates who are not actively looking for a job. Employer branding is still a relatively unknown concept among smaller employers in the Republic of Croatia. In large companies, it is an indispensable part of corporate activity. It can be explained as a process and a platform in which a company creates its own brand in order to attract the best staff and retain the existing ones.
The development and implementation of a successful Employer Branding strategy is the basis for attracting and hiring talent. The first and most important step in building a successful Employer Branding strategy is defining the goals you want to achieve with it.
Some of the most common objectives of Employer Branding are as follows:
- attract talent for positions that are difficult to fill,
- receive more applications from qualified candidates,
- improve the company’s reputation as an employer,
- build a relationship based on trust with candidates,
- improve the experience of candidates,
- increase the number of visitors to the career page,
- attract more applicants through social networks,
- increase the job offer acceptance rate
Furthermore, in order to attract the best talent, you must first create a profile of your ideal candidate – the so-called candidate persona. The profile of the ideal candidate will give you an insight into the type of candidate who would ideally fit into your work environment and organizational culture. If you don’t know who your perfect candidate is, you won’t be able to send targeted messages to the candidates you want to attract.
The third step represents the definition of propositional values (EVP). Do you know why your employees chose your company as an employer? Do you know why they stay in your company? Do you know what they like best about your company?
These are the questions you need to answer in order to build a successful Employer Branding strategy. The answers to these questions best describe your value proposition. Propositional values are everything that your company offers to its employees.
Such an expression of propositional value implies everything that a certain company offers to its employees in exchange for their effort and work. Before any activity, it is necessary to devote time to planning the activity. Propositional values represent fundamental values for building a successful employer brand.
Propositional value is also the promise that the company makes to its potential employees. The company’s value proposition consists of 5 main elements:
- work environment
A person who strives for success and achievement gets greater satisfaction from the achievement itself than from a monetary reward, but money becomes a symbol of that achievement. So, regardless of different points of view and opinions, the value of money as a motivator should never be ignored.
However, most employers make a big mistake: they think that the value proposition is just a combination of the compensation and benefits they offer their employees. Propositional values are key to building a successful employer brand and are at the very core of talent acquisition.
Value propositions are the promise you offer candidates to become your employees, so they are the main tool for attracting quality candidates. In addition, well-defined value propositions can significantly reduce your employment costs. Imagine a situation where other employers, your competitors in the battle for talent, offer the same salaries and benefits as your company.
What can you do to win over talented candidates? You can offer them a higher salary, of course. However, you can also apply another, much more successful approach – emphasize some other, non-financial elements of your propositional values.
The next step, after successfully defining propositional values, is reflected in the definition of methods and channels of promotion of your Employer Branding strategy. In this step, you need to define the methods and channels that you will use in order to present your company’s propositional values to your ideal candidates. Which methods and channels you choose will depend on the characteristics of your ideal candidate.
Any advertising by an organization is marketing. Advertising in terms of attracting new employees is also an extremely important marketing tool. By presenting the company as a branded organization in the field of employee relations, it guarantees both existing and new employees that working for such an organization represents a special value and honor.
The channels and methods that are most often used to present the propositional values of the company and attract the best professional staff are:
- advertising through various social networks (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn…)
- advertising through the job search portal
- participation in open doors and career days
- publication of sponsored articles in magazines and portals, etc.
Building an employer brand is actually the market’s perception of what it’s like to work for a company. In other words, it is the image that future, current, and former employees have of the experience of working for the company. These include features such as organizational culture, work environment, employee benefits, and employee value proposition.
Therefore, if the company wants to maintain its position in the market, it must have a strategic advantage on the market. By developing and marketing an employment brand, it is possible to ensure that job seekers know why they should work for the company, and what the company is looking for. While any company can create an employment brand, building one that is truly effective is more of a challenge. This requires researching target candidates, screening competitor employees, and successfully executing and positioning the brand.
Finally, the last step is measuring the effectiveness of your Employer Branding strategy. It is extremely important to monitor and measure the effectiveness of your Employer Branding strategy. In order to measure the extent to which you have achieved the goals of your Employer Branding strategy, you must monitor certain performance indicators, i.e. the most important HR metrics. Monitoring and analyzing these indicators will provide insight into which parts of your Employer’s Branding strategy are working well and which can be improved.
Characteristics and advantages of successful Employer Branding
Employer branding is an expression that describes the company’s reputation and popularity from the employee’s perspective and describes the values that the company gives to its employees. The creation of employer branding has an extremely strong influence on the reputation of the organization in general. In the modern business world, acquiring e.g. certificate “Best employer ISF white Employee respect” means branding by which the company presents itself as a great place to work. It is used to communicate with current employees, as well as to attract a new, quality workforce.
Employer branding has a direct impact on acquiring top talent. Companies with a better reputation have better quality and more satisfied employees.
The labor market goes through daily changes and despite the extremely large number of unemployed people, it is difficult to find qualified and quality candidates for individual jobs. An excellent example of this claim is the IT sector globally, including in Croatia. For quality employees, companies conduct so-called “talent wars” using various methods of attracting a quality workforce. One of the solutions for attracting quality staff and customers is exactly “Employer branding”.
Employer branding uses the company’s human resources as an instrument in the recruitment process to attract and recruit the right person for the organization. However, in order for the employer brand to have a competitive advantage, it must meet some criteria.
The employer should offer and provide training and development to the employee in exchange for the performance that the employee will provide in the workplace. If such a psychological contract is fulfilled with a high degree of loyalty, the employee’s commitment to the company is greater and the worker will work harder. Thus, loyalty and commitment to the company increase productivity.
Every company has a reputation that it has acquired over the years by working and providing value to clients and society. This can include the excellence of your products, and services, satisfaction of society for a positive impact on the environment, socially responsible practices, and more.
Likewise, the reputation of your company can also be much more than the value for money that you provide to the market – emotional, instinctive, and intellectual values, that arise from communication, interpersonal relations, respect for employees, and organizational culture, which is especially expressed in people who see your ads, use your products and ultimately talk to others about you. That reputation is known as your brand, and it can be a powerful, mysterious, and synergistic force – much more than what you sell, and it’s called “trust”.
In today’s increasingly competitive labor market, a positive employer brand is crucial. Without it, recruiting and retaining the best employees becomes challenging – and expensive. You need leadership talent to drive your business forward, and the best way to find them is to make your company feel like a great place to work.
Everything from the salary and benefits you offer to the opportunities for advancement, to the time, organizational culture, and employee care can greatly affect the impression you are trying to make on potential candidates. Companies with a poor employer brand have to offer much higher wages to attract top talent.
Successful employer branding makes it easier for HR departments to reach potential candidates and retain existing employees. Potential and existing employees identify much more easily with an employer that has a built image and a pleasant working atmosphere, and it is important to use this information in the actual hiring process and attract the desired candidates.
Nowadays, especially among the younger generations, the amount of income is less important than a good working atmosphere and working conditions, but also the image of the employer itself. Everything that the company sends as information to a potential candidate through “Employer branding” must be based on the truth, so it is necessary to develop a good working atmosphere and to have an understanding of the harmonization of business and private obligations of employees. Employees who recognize this type of advantage in their company become an effective type of promotion for the products or services that the company offers to the market. It is safe to say that customers trust employees who believe in their company’s brand more than any other type of promotion or advertisement.
The role of employer branding in job satisfaction
The business strategy of employer branding is reserved not only for attracting new quality personnel but also for retaining existing ones. There are more and more companies on the labor market that care about the level of satisfaction of their employees. This is the result of employers being made aware of the importance of taking care of their employees’ well-being, which is to the benefit of the entire company, but also of the struggle for quality candidates on the labor market, which is getting tougher over time.
Human resources in proactive companies are therefore looking for ways to improve the level of satisfaction of current employees because they know that this will help them retain employees, but also attract new quality candidates. In accordance with such a business (employer branding) strategy, they often measure eNPS as part of employee satisfaction research.
There are several types of surveys traditionally used to measure employee satisfaction in a company. The first of them is eNPS (Employee Net Promoter score), an index borrowed from the world of customer experience.
It is an undeniable fact that the benefits that employees expect today have greatly changed from the benefits we had in the past. It is no longer enough to provide employees with annual leave or a computer and mobile phone. Today, it is understood to enable the employee to work from home as needed, or e.g. that he leaves early on Fridays because he has worked a sufficient number of hours that week, and that he is provided with online education of his choice or provided with a company car over the weekend, etc.
In general, it is necessary to have a large selection of benefits that must arise from the needs and wishes of employees. Not all employees are equal. What is important to one employee may not be important to his colleague sitting next to him.
Employer Branding is one of the key components of any successful talent acquisition and new hire strategy. A clearly defined Employer Branding strategy can help find the right job candidates, attract them, hire them, and ultimately hire them, but certainly retain them.
As we said earlier, eNPS is an abbreviation of the English term Employee Net Promoter Score – a metric used to measure the level of employee satisfaction and loyalty towards the employer. Companies measure it as part of employee satisfaction surveys by asking employees, among others, one of the key questions: “How inclined are you to recommend the company you work for as an employer to your family and friends?”.
It is possible to choose an answer on a scale from 0 to 10. Employees who choose 0 as an answer mean that they are not at all inclined to recommend the employer, while those who choose 10 mean that they are very inclined to recommend the employer.
eNPS can vary from -100 to 100 and anything above 0 is considered an acceptable result, although a good eNPS result for each company is an individual measure. The most important thing is to measure it over certain periods of time so that the employer can monitor the progress and, based on the results, introduce certain activities that will improve the eNPS.
A good eNPS brings numerous benefits to companies:
- reduction of the fluctuation level,
- as a result, employment costs are reduced
- is an indicator of employee productivity
- it is also an indicator of a reduced number of sick days
The eNPS is a simple survey of two questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend someone to work at this company?
Justify your answer.
The first question helps companies gauge current employee satisfaction with a simple number. Employees who answered with the highest marks – 9 or 10 – are considered a group of promoters; then, employees who answered 7 or 8 are considered neutral, and those who answered 6 and below are considered dissatisfied.
The eNPS score is obtained by simply subtracting the percentage of the number of dissatisfied employees from the employee-promoter. When it’s good, the eNPS is 30 or more, while companies with a negative eNPS can be justifiably worried.
The second question in the eNPS survey serves to conduct a qualitative analysis by noticing patterns in the responses of dissatisfied employees (whether they are dissatisfied with pay, conditions, culture, projects, or something else).
Another popular survey to check employee satisfaction is the ESI (Employee Satisfaction Index). It is based on three questions:
How satisfied are you with your job?
To what extent does your job meet your expectations?
How similar is your current workplace to your ideal workplace?
These questions are also asked to be answered on a scale from 1 to 10, and the ESI is calculated according to the following formula:
ESI= [((average response ÷ 3) – 1) ÷9]*10
An ESI higher than 10 indicates a high level of employee satisfaction, but like the eNPS, this index primarily serves to monitor over time and to detect a possible drop in employee satisfaction.
Satisfied employees are an exceptional driver of the success of any company. On the other hand, dissatisfied employees can negatively affect the business in several ways. Employee satisfaction is not a statistic that can be observed in a vacuum. It is intertwined with the quality of communication, transparent company leadership, healthy work atmosphere, and many other factors.
In other words, the goal of the HR staff is, in fact, always connected to raising the level of employee satisfaction in the company. When employee satisfaction is high, employees communicate better, are more motivated, cooperate more easily, and loyalty to the company is greater.
Likewise, when employees are satisfied, they will stay longer with the company. This also means that it will be more profitable – it will continuously invest its time, knowledge, and skills in the improvement of the entire company and the fulfillment of long-term goals.
There is an increasing number of Croatian companies that have recognized the advantages of “Employer branding”, and through this type of branding, companies attract a quality workforce, but also successfully retain existing staff. Branding itself can be implemented in various ways, but the basic ones include creating good working conditions and relations with employees, using corporate websites and social networks (Facebook, Linkedin,…), organizing and participating in various types of HR events and fairs, etc.
Employer Brand is what your employees, current and potential, as well as future job candidates think about your organization as an employer. Their perception of how you treat current employees and candidates is extremely important for employment and whether they will decide to enter into a working relationship with your company. A well-planned Employer Branding strategy can be a great competitive advantage that will set a company apart from its competitors.
Ivan VIDAS, expert. spec. father
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[ 1 ] ISF white© is a certification mark that is awarded after a successful certification procedure, and the certificate itself means that ISF white© companies offer excellent working conditions, clearly defined tasks and organizational structure. ISF white© companies offer an individual approach to each employee as a human being, and not just a resource, with a motivating and useful environment, and constant opportunities for competence growth.