The Complete Guide to Employer Branding in the Digital Age

In today’s marketplace, the competition for top talent is becoming fierce, making employer branding more important than ever.

Organizations that want a talented workforce must work hard to attract, recruit, retain, and train the right employees.

A strong talent pool is, however, more than just a bonus for modern businesses. It is a competitive advantage. 

This is one reason why today’s businesses are focusing on building their brand as an employer – job hunters tend to gravitate towards highly-rated companies, which gives those businesses a greater selection of talent.

In this guide to employer branding, we will explore this topic and many more, including:

  • Basic definitions and concepts related to employer branding
  • The role that the employee experience plays in employer branding
  • How to target and connect with the right employees
  • What employees look for in a workplace – and how to give it to them
  • The importance of the digital workplace, digital training, and the digital employee experience

By the end of this guide, readers will have a solid grasp of why employer branding is so important and, more importantly, knowledge of how to improve their workplace.

Employer Branding: Key Definitions and Concepts

Before diving into a detailed exploration of how to improve a workplace’s reputation, it pays to understand a few fundamentals, such as…

Branding

Branding, used by itself, refers to the image that an organization deliberately creates through design and marketing.

Branding is important because…

  • It builds trust with the target audience and customers
  • Brand design assets are easily recognizable and support advertising efforts
  • The brand image becomes associated with specific characteristics, such as reliability 

This type of branding refers specifically to the organization’s audience-facing image and reputation.

However, there is another type of branding directed specifically towards employees…

Employer Branding

Employer branding refers to an organization’s reputation as a workplace. 

Also called an “employment brand,” this type of branding should align with the company’s outward-facing brand image, but be focused on employees.

There are a number of components that make up employer branding, such as:

  • The work environment. The physical and digital work environments both affect the employer brand. A work environment that is efficient, effective, and streamlined will have a better impact on employer branding than one that is confusing and chaotic, for example.
  • Training and development. Today’s employees are searching for employers who can provide them with the right skills and training for the digital age. Employee training programs and digital adoption programs are two ways to ensure that employees stay skilled and engaged.
  • Organizational culture. Organizational culture represents the values, beliefs, and attitudes of a workforce. Though there is no such thing as a “perfect” company culture, some cultures are considered better than others. For instance, many employees would rather work at a company with a positive, upbeat culture than at a business with a hostile work environment.
  • Marketing. To become known, an organization must proactively market its employment value proposition. This means touting the benefits of the workplace, awards, employee testimonials, and other elements that can bolster the brand image.

Each of these elements can be further broken down, analyzed, and systematically improved. 

Later, we will examine a few approaches to doing just that.

Employee Sentiment

Employee sentiment refers to employees’ emotions and attitudes, typically as they pertain to the workplace and the organization.

There important points to note about employee sentiments.

On the one hand, sentiments have a significant impact on workers’ performance, productivity, and engagement.

Also, employer branding factors such as organizational communication and culture, which can be deliberately influenced by an organization, can impact employee sentiment

For these reasons, improving employee sentiment should be a primary consideration for organizations intent on developing an employment brand.

Generally speaking, employee sentiments reflect emotions and can be positive, negative, or neutral, at least according to sentiment analysis software. Such software can be used to gain insight into employees’ perceptions of a brand or of specific topics. 

Employee surveys are another way to gain insight into employees’ feelings about a work environment. 

Both methods can be useful ways to understand attitudes and workplace problems and then, in turn, use that information to improve employer branding and the employee experience.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is an important employee metric when it comes to employer branding and the employee experience.

Credit: www.successories.com

Some, such as Gallup, even consider engagement to be a fundamental stage in the employee life cycle.

Engagement is important since it affects…

  • Employee satisfaction. Satisfaction and engagement go hand-in-hand. After all, when employees enjoy their work and their workplace, they will be more likely to engage with their work. And the reverse is also true: engagement usually indicates satisfaction.
  • Short-term productivity and performance. Another reason why engagement is such a concern for employers is because it impacts productivity and performance. For example, an employer may choose to improve the work environment in order to increase engagement and, as a result, productivity.
  • Long-term retention. Increased engagement and satisfaction also result in increased employee retention rates. The reason is simple – the happier employees are at their workplace, the longer they will stay.
  • Employees’ perception of the organization – that is, employer branding. Engagement and related metrics also have a direct impact on how employees perceive their organization. 

The bottom line is that organizations who want to improve their branding efforts should make engagement one of their top priorities.

Talent Management

Talent manage exists in a feedback loop with employer branding.

  • Good branding, for instance, helps an organization attract better workers and boosts talent management efforts
  • Effective talent management also improves the quality of the workforce, which in turn creates a better work environment and workplace reputation
  • Employer branding efforts can also positively affect the costs and ease of recruitment, onboarding, and training efforts

In short, the more in-demand a workplace is, the easier it will be for an organization to find and recruit talented employees.

As we will discover later – and as many professionals already know – a more talented workforce boosts organizational performance on many levels.

The Employee Value Proposition

A value proposition is a promise by an organization to deliver specific value to the customer. Also called the unique value proposition or unique selling proposition, this promise represents the value that customers are willing to purchase.

The employee value proposition, however, focuses on the value that employees can gain from working in an organization.

For instance, employees naturally prefer to work at organizations that…

  • Have pleasant work environments
  • Offer plenty of career growth opportunities
  • Are aligned with their values and cultural attitudes
  • Provide ample skills training

There are many reasons why employees may choose to work at a specific company. 

For that reason, employers should analyze their organization, their company culture, and carefully craft an employer brand that aligns with their hiring strategy.

The Employee Experience

The employee experience covers the sum total of employees’ interactions with a company. 

These interactions begin with pre-hire interactions, continue throughout the tenure of employment, and finish when the employee departs the organization.

Credit: www.thefutureorganization.com

Like employee engagement, the employee experience has a close connection to employer branding.

The better the experience, the better employees will perceive an organization.

The employee experience should be a main focus of employee branding efforts, since it has such an impact on employee satisfaction, engagement, and sentiment.

There are numerous factors that affect the employee experience, including:

  • The physical work environment. Everything from the office furnishings to the location impact how employees experience their workplace. High-quality furniture, interior décor, and office equipment all can exert a positive influence on the employee experience and the employer branding.
  • Organizational culture. The culture of a workplace, as mentioned, can affect whether or not employees enjoy their workplace. This means that it also affects which types of employees the company will attract.
  • The digital workplace. The physical work environment is only one side of the equation. The other side, the digital, is equally important, if not more so. Digital technology, workflows, culture, and processes all combine to affect the digital employee experience. And, like the other factors mentioned here, that experience influences employees’ perceptions of the employer.
  • Employee onboarding and training programs. Onboarding is a crucial stage in the employee life cycle. It can set the tone for the rest of the employee life cycle. A positive onboarding experience can set employees up for success and a great experience. A poor one, however, can have the opposite effect.
  • Organizational communication. Organizational communication refers to formal communication mechanisms within an organization. Efficient organizational communication has a positive influence on the employee experience, while 

To truly create a powerful employer brand, businesses should implement a structured program designed to enhance the employee experience over time.

5 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Employer Branding

Next, we will dive deeper into the concept of employer branding by answering a few frequently asked questions.

1. Why is employer branding important?

Employer branding, as mentioned, impacts key areas, such as:

  • Employee productivity
  • Talent management and recruitment metrics
  • Employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention
  • The organizational culture

An organization that improves its brand and image as an employer can expect, therefore, to see…

  • A greater selection of potential talent during recruitment efforts
  • Decreased recruitment costs
  • Improvements to the work environment
  • A workplace that is more efficient and effective
  • A workforce that is more productive, engaged, and satisfied

To improve employer branding, however, it is necessary to develop a structured and systematic approach to branding, as discussed below.

2. Who handles employer branding?

Employer branding will be handled by different parties, depending on the size of the organization and the maturity of its employer branding function.

Here are a few groups that can be responsible for executing and managing employer branding efforts:

  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Hiring managers
  • Employer branding teams
  • Employee experience managers
  • Third-party consultants

In many cases, there is not a specific business department dedicated to employer branding.

For that reason, it will often become a responsibility delegated to multiple parties within an organization.

3. How is employer branding measured?

As with other business functions, employer branding should be a structured program with specific goals and objectives.

Metrics should therefore be derived from those objectives.

If an organization pursues some of the aims mentioned above, for instance, they would focus on areas such as:

  • The employee experience
  • Employee satisfaction and engagement
  • Employee sentiment
  • Retention rates
  • Recruitment costs

Naturally, there are many variables that impact outcomes such as these, so it is necessary to account for that complexity with a sophisticated analytics approach.

4. How do you improve employer branding?

Employer branding can be improved by, for instance:

  • Improving the employee experience, both offline and online
  • Investing in talent management efforts
  • Providing career development opportunities
  • Making a point to proactively market the employer brand
  • Ensuring employees have access to the right tools and technology
  • Offering effective employee training programs 
  • Committing to structured employee branding efforts

This last point is ultimately the most important.

An organization that does not commit to employer branding efforts, after all, will have little chance of successfully improving their employer brand.

5. Where can I learn more about employer branding?

There are a number of resources available to those who want to learn more about employer branding:

  • Industry leaders. Consultancies and leaders that specialize in specific HR areas, such as employer branding or incentive and reward programs, are an excellent resource. Their content tends to focus almost exclusively on the topic of employer branding, so they are a good first stop.
  • Blogs. There are plenty of blogs that focus on HR topics, such as SHRM’s blog. For those interested in building a cutting-edge employee experience, it pays to find blogs that focus on the employee experience, employee training, and the digital workplace.
  • Conferences and events. Conferences and other business events attract industry leaders, like-minded professionals, potential customers, and other business contacts. As mentioned above, some of the best conferences include WalkMe’s digital adoption conference and conferences that focus on employee branding.

For professionals serious about improving their branding efforts, resources such as these can prove invaluable.

Later, we will look at some more resources in further detail.

8 Strategies and Best Practices for Improving Employer Branding

Here are a few strategies, tactics, and best practices that can help organizations improve their reputation as an employer:

1. How to improve the employee experience

Improving the employee experience should be one of the top aims when it comes to employer branding.

As we have seen, an improve employee experience can result in improvements across a wide variety of areas.

And those improvements, in turn, will affect employees’ perception of the workplace and help to enhance employee branding efforts.

Efforts should focus on:

For best results, organizations should consider hiring employee experience professionals or creating an employee experience division.

2. Employee training 101: key strategies and tactics

Employee training is another important business function, especially in today’s competitive talent marketplace:

  • Talent shortages hinder employee performance, innovation, organizational performance, and ultimately the employer brand
  • Since modern-day employees frequently get bored at work, it is important to keep them stimulated and engaged – those who become too disengaged will search for employment elsewhere
  • The digital workplace is continually evolving, which means that employee productivity depends on having a robust digital adoption and employee training program
  • Rapidly advancing technology makes it imperative to employ digital training efforts that are modern and effective

The hardest-working and most talented employees will seek out organizations that offer on-the-job training, so this is another area that should receive extra attention when developing an employer branding strategy.

3. Enhancing the overall work environment

The work environment includes both the physical and the digital workplace.

For the work environment to contribute to a brand’s image and reputation, it is necessary to create an outstanding work environment that exceeds expectations.

Google, for instance, is well-known for its workplace, which includes:

Among many other benefits.

Naturally, not every company can afford such luxurious workplace perks.

However, there are much more inexpensive steps a company can take to make its work environment worth talking about:

  • Indoor lounge areas
  • Outdoor dining areas
  • Noteworthy interior decoration
  • High-quality furnishings

When physical workplace improvements are combined with the other approaches covered in this guide, then they can all work together to build an employer brand that wins hearts, awards, and talent.

4. Career development – a key strategy for improving long-term retention

Some consider employee training to be a short-term endeavor aimed at improving workplace productivity and performance.

This is debatable – especially given the need for permanent digital employee training in today’s corporate world.

However, it is widely acknowledged that career development is a long-term endeavor that affects employees’ over the lifetime of their careers.

Since most employees are concerned about their long-term future, this is another area that should be considered when designing employer branding efforts.

Career development programs should include a number of measures designed to help employees succeed, such as:

  • Career counseling
  • Mentorship and apprenticeship options
  • Workshops, seminars, certifications, and other long-term education options
  • Skills training (see above)

The more robust the career development program, the more it will weigh in towards a positive brand image – especially if that image is promoted aggressively.

5. How corporate well-being programs can improve the workplace

Google is not the only business that understands the importance of employee health and well-being.

Virgin is another company that recognizes the value of employee health – in fact, the business empire has gone so far as to develop its own business dedicated to corporate well-being.

Virgin Pulse claims that corporate well-being programs can dramatically enhance workers’ experience, by:

  • Reducing healthcare costs
  • Improving business performance
  • Building a great company culture

…and much more.

Programs such as this can help businesses develop a holistic, employee-centric employer branding strategy – one that gets talked about and noticed by prospective workers.

6. To see improvements, implement a structured approach to change

Change management is dedicated to executing and managing organizational change efforts.

Among other things, change managers:

  • Assess and mitigate risk associated with organizational change
  • Keep employees motivated and engaged
  • Tackle obstacles to change, such as employee resistance
  • Improve organizational changes’ chances of success, as well as their overall outcomes

When it comes to employer branding, change management can help in several ways:

  • Implementing a new employer branding function
  • Making organizational changes designed to improve employer branding, the workplace, and the employee experience
  • Gaining insight into employees’ wants and needs during these change projects
  • Optimizing business processes over time

The best change managers understand that individuals lie at the heart of a change project. And since individual employees are also the focus of employer branding efforts, it is important that change managers work closely with employer branding professionals.

7. Attend conferences, continue studying, and never stop learning

Attending conferences and events is an excellent way to understand and improve employer branding.

Here are a few conferences to consider:

More internet searches will yield a number of conferences and events, all of which can become excellent opportunities for growth and development.

Studying employee branding is another must for professionals who want to stay relevant and yield measurable results from their branding efforts.

Areas to focus on include:

  • Employer branding
  • Change management
  • Employee training
  • The employee experience
  • The digital employee experience
  • The digital workplace

…all of which can help contribute to a better work environment, a better organization, and a better employer brand.

Ultimately, employer branding professionals should never stop learning – those that continue to study and grow will see continual improvements in their efforts over the lifetime of their careers.

See the last section of this guide for more resources and information.

8. Market your employer brand

A business may have the best workplace in the world … but if no one knows about it, then it will not help with recruitment or a brand’s reputation.

Businesses that want others to know about their efforts must proactively market their employer brand.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Networking events. Attending networking events is an excellent way to get the word out about a company culture and employer brand. Job fairs, conferences, seminars, and other targeted events can help businesses make the right connections. Of course, while attending such events, it is critical to proactively advertise that brand and the reasons why it is better and different. Otherwise, prospective employees will use other criteria to differentiate between their potential employers.
  • Recruitment. When recruiting employees, it pays to tout the benefits of a company. After all, employees are the new consumers. Potential recruits are evaluating companies as much as the companies are evaluating them. Promoting one’s own brand should become an item on the recruitment checklist.
  • PR. Public relations can be another vehicle for brand promotion. The more that organizations promote their brand through media outlets, the more likely it is that the employer’s brand will take hold and actually “become” a brand. 
  • Enter contests. Nominating workplaces can help employers gain awards and recognition from independent associations. Those awards, in turn, legitimize a company’s status as a great place to work – which, in turn, can be used to bolster the recruitment process and build the employer brand image.

In short, building an employer brand is only one half of the equation.

Enhancing the workplace, the employee experience, and the culture are fundamental steps to take – but those facts must be publicly known in order to actually have an impact.

How Employer Branding Is Evolving in the Digital Age

Employer branding, like every other business field, is evolving along with the digital economy.

Here are a few factors that are impacting employer branding in today’s fast-paced business world:

Challenges to Employee Engagement in the Digital Era

Creating a stellar workplace is hard enough – but in the digital age, it is becoming even more challenging.

Here are three variables that make it difficult for organizations to create a great work environment:

  • Workplace complexity. The modern-day workplace is already complicated. And it is becoming more complicated by the day. Organizations that want to improve the employee experience and their employment value proposition must start by finding a way to simplify the workplace.
  • The need for continual employee learning and training. Continual organizational change is fueling the need for constant employee learning. Unfortunately, many organizations cope with this need by simply “adding more and more” tasks, software, learning requirements, and so on. Unfortunately, this has a detrimental effect on the workplace experience.
  • Cognitive overload. Information overload and cognitive overload cause confusion, frustration, and burnout among employees. Preventing this problem requires a simplified, streamlined approach to employee training and digital adoption.

Overcoming these challenges is essential, not only for employer branding, but also for successful organizational change and digital transformation.

Digital Transformation

To evolve the digital workplace, organizations must proactively transform their work environments.

Digital transformation, that is, is the road that most organizations are traveling down in order to become digitally mature.

In other words:

  • Innovative technology opens up new opportunities for business growth
  • Digital transformation presents a great opportunity to improve the workplace and employer branding
  • At the same time, organizational change presents great risk, since poorly managed changes can harm the employee experience

Technology, as WalkMe says, should be the way we overcome challenges, not the challenge itself.

Effectively navigating the seas of digital change can mean all the difference when it comes to the employee experience, and, as a result, the employment value proposition.

The Digital Employee Experience

Improving the employer brand and the employee value proposition means understanding and enhancing the digital employee experience.

Here are a few points that can make this understandable:

  • The modern-day employee spends a great deal of their time interacting with digital software
  • Digital onboarding, training, and adoption have a large impact on the employee experience
  • A simplified, streamlined digital experience improves the overall employee experience – and, as a consequence, employer branding

Since the workplace is becoming more digital with each passing day, the digital workplace experience is becoming more and more of a factor.

One of the best ways to improve the digital workplace experience is to implement a digital adoption function.

Digital Onboarding, Training, and Adoption

Digital transformation is the road to digital maturity.

And as we saw above, virtually every organization is undergoing transformation to some extent.

To maximize employee engagement and productivity during such changes, organizations should ensure that they have robust systems in place for integrating employees into the digital work environment.

These include:

  • Digital onboarding
  • Digital training
  • Digital adoption

And those functions should aim at improving:

  • Digital literacy
  • Long-term career development
  • Short-term productivity, motivation, and confidence

The better that organizations can implement such systems, the better the digital employee experience will be – and the more satisfied and engaged they will be.

For More Information on Employer Branding in the Digital Age

Those interested in learning more about improving employer branding by enhancing digital training and the digital employee experience can visit:

With the right knowledge, information, and resources, organizations can make positive steps towards improving their workplace and culture – and, as a result, their brand as an employer.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.