Employer brand

How to Start & Grow Your Employer Brand

posted by Abby Glenn |

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of employer brand during a crisis, but there is no playbook for this unprecedented time” (SHRM, 2020). With employer and consumer brands being more connected than ever before, now is the time to hone in on your employer brand and see which areas need improvement. Job seekers will remember how a company handled the pandemic, their stance on equality and if they took into account their employees’ wellbeing during these times. They will use this to decide which companies they want to apply to for years to come. Make sure you utilize this time to improve your employer brand and make it something your company and employees can be proud of.

Employer brand - what is it, why it's important and the value of having a strong employer brand

What is employer branding?

We all know how a corporate brand works. You offer a value proposition to customers by defining products or services in the marketplace. An employer brand is the “market’s perception of your company as an employer. It describes your promise or employee value proposition to employees in exchange for their experience, talents, contacts, or skills.” (LinkedIn, 2018). In short, your employer brand is how you market your company to desired job seekers. It’s about knowing the people you’re looking to attract and defining the essence of your company. When done correctly, it will spark interest around your company and attract your desired job seekers.

What is the value of a strong employer brand?

Every company has an employer brand, no matter if you put the effort and time into it. If you don’t invest time in this aspect of your brand, it can be costly in regards to recruiting. “Companies with positive employer brands get twice as many applications as companies with negative brands. They also spend less money on employees” (reviewtrackers). Put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker. Wouldn’t you take the time to research the company and go on Glassdoor to see what current or past employees are saying about it? Most of the time, the answer is that you would. You want to work for a company that cares about its employees, and you also want to see if it would be the right culture fit for you. Having a strong employer brand will show potential applicants what your company values are, and the type of culture that you have, making the right job seekers want to work for you.

Employer branding strategy

1. Conduct an employer brand audit

Conducting an employer brand audit

Start by defining what your employer brand stands for and follow that up by creating a spreadsheet that covers topics such as:

  • Online Presence – company website, career sites and online reviews
  • Social Media Presence – company social media accounts and your career social media accounts
  • Recruitment and Hiring Process – recruitment channels (digital, social, traditional), recruitment advertising, career fairs, job advertisements and descriptions, job post distribution, job boards and social recruiting efforts
  • Candidate Experience – application process, applicant screening process, interviewing process, selection and notification process, onboarding process and training process
  • Rewards and Recognition Incentives
  • Current and Exited Employees – performance management process, current employees and exited employees (make sure to include candidates who dropped out of the hiring process)

After you finish outlining your audit, create a SWOT analysis for each category to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Add in employee surveys to make sure your findings align with what your employees think of your employer brand and combine them into one document. You want to see what is working at your company and where you need to make improvements.

2. Identify your candidate persona

Take the time to figure out who your perfect candidate is. Doing this will help you find the right type of messaging to attract those candidates and make them interested in your job postings. You will want to learn aspects about these candidates, such as:

  • Who they are
  • Their goals
  • Their frustrations
  • What influences their decisions
  • Channels they look for jobs on
  • How they search for jobs
  • Their personality traits
  • Their skills and attributes
  • What types of information they trust
  • What motivates them

3. Define your employer value proposition

Elements of the value proposition

First, let’s discuss what an employer value proposition (EVP) is. “The Employer Value Proposition is the core of your employer brand that defines its positioning and strategic direction. An effective EVP should reflect the external demands, competition, internal reality and the strategic context of your company. Besides, you also must include the values and principles represented by your company” (Universum, 2019).  

You will want to create an EVP that communicates what your company stands for while being credible, relevant, distinctive and aspirational. You want top talent to see growth, value and purpose in being a part of your company. Above all, your EVP should align with your customer brand. However, you will want it to speak directly to your current and potential employees.

what makes a good value proposition

4. Leverage your current employees

Leveraging your current employees for your employer brand

Employees are the backbone of your organization and are 3x more likely to be trusted by job seekers than a CEO. They tell it how it is and are the ones that shape your company’s culture, achieve your objectives and live your values. How do you get them more engaged with your employer brand? Have your employees update their social media accounts, and post about their experiences with your company, write reviews on job sites and share any open positions with their networks.  For this process to be as smooth as possible, consider having a small training session on how to utilize their social media accounts and how to optimize their profiles to grow their networks.

5. Cultivate a healthy onboarding process

According to G2, people who have a negative onboarding experience are “twice as likely to seek a different opportunity.” You want to make sure that your employees are engaged and excited about their roles, be members of their team, and have the right tools to be successful. Need ideas for a remote onboarding process?

Check out Onboarding New Hires!

6. Offer learning and development opportunities

Benefits of employee training and development

In 2018, the number one reason people left their jobs (33%) was that they were bored and needed a new challenge (Inc). Try offering management and leadership training, specialized certifications and avenues for career advancement. This could allow for more internal promotions and happier, committed employees.

7. Utilize LinkedIn to tell your company story and educate your employees

LinkedIn is an excellent avenue for reaching and engaging with job seekers by creating content and promoting your company’s story. Below are a few ways to get in front of those candidates:

  • Interact online – encourage your employees to join conversations on LinkedIn by commenting, liking or sharing news and opinions in various groups or to their networks
  • Update your company page – make sure your company’s LinkedIn page is entirely up to date as this is the first place job seekers will go after seeing your job opening to learn about your organization
  • Tell your company story – utilize your career pages as an extension of your company page to tell your company story and drive applicants to your jobs. You can tailor the job messaging, use media such as photos and videos and write creative and capturing job descriptions to show off your culture
  • LinkedIn Learning – a great learning platform to enable employees to grow personally and professionally

Need ideas on how to set up your company’s LinkedIn page? Take a look at our current page!

8. Create a strong diversity and inclusion initiative

Creating a strong diversity and inclusion initiative

Why does diversity hiring matter?

  • It grows your talent pool – you will gain interest from a broader range of candidates because more people can relate to your company
  • It improves employee happiness, productivity and retention – employees feel they are accepted and appreciated no matter their age, gender or ethnic background
  • It improves innovation and creativity – different experiences, working styles and background sparks new ideas
  • It’s positive for your employer brand – it helps you appeal to many different customers, candidates and potential business partners
  • It increases your workforce’s range of skills, talents and experiences – it will help you better understand your customers’ needs

Make sure that you show your commitment to building diverse teams while creating a strong employer brand. Extend your brand’s reach (both customer and employer) to new groups by having unique thinkers from different backgrounds.

Having a compelling employer brand will not only separate you from your competitors but it will also be a motivating factor to bring in new talent. Job seekers are looking for companies that care for their employees and speak up during hard times for what they believe in. If you can build a strong but accurate employer brand, you’ll be able to continuously bring in the best and brightest talent!

Social Distancing at Work

Future of Work

posted by Abby Glenn |

As the pandemic has shifted work trends, businesses must continue to be agile, set employees up for success, establish safety measures and discover the new normal. We wanted to share a few ways we are adapting within our company as well as provide some insight into how work trends are evolving. 

Increase in Remote Work

According to Gartner analysis, 48% of employees will work at least part of the time in a remote environment after being allowed back into our offices. But how will this look? It will all depend on your company and the work environment that you want your employees to have. However, encouraging employees to work from home, at least part of the time, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 around the office, and it will also help prepare your company if a similar situation arises.

At Swoon, we’re offering a work from home extension option for the remainder of 2020. Offering this extension allows our employees to make a conscious decision about what would work best for them and their families—keeping safety and comfortability a top priority.

Employer Role as a Social Safety Net

Employers played an expanded role in an employee’s mental well-being throughout the time of social distancing and working from home. This has ultimately changed the way employers view the employee experience. You may have started to focus on increasing your employees’ social engagement and morale, which in turn helped increase productivity and reduce burnout. This is something that most companies should continue to implement, even with offices being open.

At Swoon, to improve moral, we implemented Innovation Kitchens (IK Breaks) and will continue them for the foreseeable future. They have been a great way to increase morale, involve the entire team and make sure employees take breaks throughout the day. Some examples of what we’ve done in the past include:

  • Workout – A 30-minute workout to get us all motivated and finish our day out strong.
  • Yoga – A Slow-Flow Yoga class hosted by an old pal of Swoon, a certified yoga and meditation teacher.
  • Dance Party – A DJ set put on for our team to socialize and have some fun.
  • Full-Body Strength – A 30-minute full-body strength workout led by one of our respected Armed Services members who also happens to be the sister of one of our Swooners! Click here to see her page.
  • Flower Arranging – A how-to on arranging a simple bouquet that you can pick up at your local grocery store.
  • Tiger King Trivia – Most of us binged the whole thing, so of course, we had to have a friendly competition around it.
  • Foreign Language Class – A class around learning a few pleasantry words in Russian, Spanish and Polish.
Increase in Transparency

Now, more than ever, transparency has been a huge factor in employee morale and happiness. Being transparent in company decisions leaves out any question about what will happen in the next few months. It allows your employees to prepare and feel supported during these unknown times.

Commuting will Never be the Same

This will be true for larger cities where most people use public transportation. It’s doubtful that we’ll see crowded buses, trains and metro stations during peak hours anytime soon. Why will it be this way?

  • Many people will be wary of using public transportation unless it’s necessary.
  • Organizations will start to stagger their shifts.
  • Many employees will still work from home at least part of the time. 
  • Public transportation will have limits and regulations to follow.
Reopening the Office

Of course, most of us are longing for some face-to-face conversations with our coworkers! We miss the times of being in the office and being able to have connections with those around us. How can we get our employees the time with their coworkers while still being safe? Well, workplaces will need to impose new elements into the office. You’ll need to figure out how to protect your employees and mitigate an outbreak from happening. The office of the future may look very different and might include:

  • Getting rid of open floor plans
  • Adding plexiglass sheets around desks
  • Reconfiguring desks to be 6 feet apart
  • Shifts for communal spaces such as bathrooms and break rooms
  • Dedicated office entrances and exits
  • Temperature checks at entrances
  • Removal of common seating areas
  • Staggering shifts
  • Rotating work from home days and in-office days, so fewer employees are in the office at one time
  • Having employees wear PPE
  • Increasing sanitation measures
  • Increasing video meetings and reducing in-person meetings

In addition to offering the work from home extension at Swoon, we’re also allowing the ability for employees to come into the office if they wish to do so. So, what steps is Swoon taking?

  • Getting rid of the open floor plan and creating desk spaces
  • Increasing sanitation efforts and requiring PPE to be worn
  • Having all employees clean out their desks to ensure they can be deep cleaned at the end of each day
  • Having flexible start and end times to make it easier on those who use public transportation

This is the time to go back to the drawing board and say, “what works for our organization and what doesn’t” and utilize those points to make changes as you see fit. It’s also going to be more critical now that as a leadership member, you’re as transparent as possible. Let your employees know what is going on and what steps are being taken. This way, the next few months go as smoothly as possible.

Onboarding New Remote Hires

posted by Abby Glenn |

Companies are still hiring but are now faced with a new challenge – onboarding new hires remotely. As employers, it’s important to set the groundwork for bonding, culture and expectations in order to be successful. Being that many of our clients are facing similar challenges, we wanted to share a few best practices that will set you new team members up for success.

Integrating New Hires

Starting your onboarding process before their start date ensures that your new hire will have everything that they need to hit the ground running. Some suggestions on items to send before their first day include:

  • Welcome email and team introduction
  • HR/company documents
  • All proper equipment/technology
  • The information they should know before their first day
  • Their onboarding schedule—this way they can be prepared for what their first week will entail
  • Company swag to feel a part of the team and get excited for their new role

Tech Should Be First Priority

Let’s take a minute and put ourselves in the position of the new hire. Starting a new job can be stressful enough without adding in the issue of not knowing how the various software platforms and communication channels work. We find that sending new hires their equipment and online tutorials/manuals before their first day helps them to feel prepared and eases any unnecessary stress. You’ll want to make sure that you have a follow up IT training scheduled for the first or second day. That way, any questions that your new hires have after watching the tutorials or reading the manual can be answered right away.

Things to cover during your IT training could include:

  • Company email
  • Group messaging tool
  • Video communication software
  • File-sharing applications (Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.)
  • Computer and email security applications

Demonstrating Culture

We know this can be a challenging thing to do through an online platform. But, taking the time to show your company’s culture can really add value to the new hire’s first week. Through video calls, you can accurately demonstrate your company’s culture while offering a way for everyone to feel included in their first week. It also allows you to introduce them to higher-level executives, either through a video conference call or a prerecorded video. Some video topic ideas to show your company culture can include:

  • Welcome video or video call from your CEO or President and other team members
  • Your culture, organizational values and mission, the history of the organization, etc.
  • Inspirational messages from a member of your leadership team
  • Retreat, event, volunteering, etc. footage from before everyone was social distancing

Setting Expectations

When working remotely and bringing on new employees, managers should be prepared to set specific goals and expectations early on. You don’t want them to have to wait for their manager or team lead to get online to learn what their next tasks are for that day. This wastes time and may cause unnecessary stress. You’ll want to make sure that your hiring managers:

  • Develop and share a task calendar with their new hires after their training and onboarding sessions are complete
  • Define short-term and long-term goals
  • Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss upcoming projects, progress, resolve any issues they are facing, and overall just check in with how things are going

Introducing Team Members and Key Employees

We all know that starting a remote role can leave some feeling isolated and even left out from the team. They haven’t had the chance to connect with the team and doing so online can prove to be very challenging. But, building relationships is well worth the effort! Set up one-on-one meetings and/or a group call so employees can meet the people they will be working with. Not only does this open a path for communication, but it also allows them to feel included within their team. Try having the manager set up bi-weekly team meetings, virtual happy hours or an open chat channel to give everyone on their team time to talk with their new coworker.

Arrange Trainings

Now we know that this is probably self-explanatory, but make sure you set aside time for the new hires to sit down with a hiring manager or a team member to train them on their role. This can be very similar to how you train in the office; however, you will need to adapt to be virtual. Screen sharing is a great way to keep things simple. We find that this is the easiest way to adapt, and it allows the new hire to ask questions in real-time, something that might be more difficult if you were to only do a prerecorded training.  

Improving Your Process

Continue to improve your onboarding process to find what bests works for your team and your culture. Ask for feedback and don’t be afraid to be creative in tackling these new challenges. We predict remote hiring will become even more common, so this is a great time to build onto an ongoing process.

Need some more help with your remote onboarding process? We would love to talk you through what has worked for us in the past and answer any questions that you have!

A Guide to Managing Your Newly Remote Teams

posted by Abby Glenn |

Many companies in recent weeks have transitioned to working 100% remote with very little preparation.  This can lead to confusion, stress, and feelings of isolation—not only for yourself but for your employees as well. Don’t worry—we have tips to make this transition easier and to help you effectively lead your team remotely!

Remain Positive

As a leader, you are needed more than ever. Many employees are feeling uneasy and even though you may also feel this way, it’s important to provide stability, positivity, empathy, and understanding. Have your teams focus on the aspects they can control by establishing clear, actionable items. In turn, they will be more productive and motivated.

Provide Information and Structure

Before, your employees could easily get information needed for deliverables by stopping at a team member’s desk or jumping into an impromptu meeting. Now, getting information has become a difficult task as employees are faced with a new working environment, new workloads and potentially new hours working at home with children. This can be easily combated by setting up intentional methods of communication.

  • Establishing a time frame to respond to internal emails allowing employees to get access to information quickly.
  • Creating an accountability structure in order to understand what projects they are currently working on and what priorities are.
  • Sharing calendars so that team members can better coordinate.
  • Have a set check-in time for touching base so you are informed about their workflow and can check how things are going.

Setting up these expectations can keep your teams aligned and working efficiently. 

Encourage Social Interaction and Engagement

A lack of face-to-face communication can result in employees experiencing social isolation and lack of engagement. According to Gallup, 70% of an individual’s engagement is driven by their manager.

Here are some suggestions to drive social interaction and keep engagement high:

  • Have regular one-on-one meetings over video chat with each one of your team members to show interest in their personal progress – we recommend video check-ins at least once a week, if possible.
  • Schedule virtual happy hours with your teams on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A virtual happy hour can be a get together with no set schedule or it could be a short 15-minute call. This gives team members the opportunity to sit back with their favorite drink and have a laid-back discussion with those on the team! For more information, check out our Virtual Happy Hour blog post!
  • Have your team meetings over video chat – we know, most of the time when you’re working from home, you don’t want to be on video. However, having this face-to-face contact with the whole team is a great way to make sure everyone feels included in the discussion.
  • Set up a simple chat room for everyone on your team to use when they need a short break or, even, a good laugh. Create subgroups about recently binged TV shows, work from home tips or at home workouts!
  • Add in a short 5-10-minute discussion to the beginning of your meetings to just share personal news or ask how everyone has been doing.

Be Flexible

Kids are home from school, and many employees are trying to figure out how to work from home for the first time. Take this time to really show your employees that you care by being patient with them and this new work environment!

When it comes to measuring productivity, try using results rather than logged time. What does that mean? Instead of having set hours that everyone needs to work during the day (like 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM), try setting goals of when certain tasks need to be completed by. This way, parents can work at whatever time they think will work best for them and their families!

Offer Your Support

We bet you’re wondering how you can support your employees during the transition from office life to working from home. Well, there isn’t a simple fix for everyone, but here are some ideas to try

  • Provide several different communication channels for employees to reach you
  • Offer encouragement and emotional support as needed to your employees
  • Above all, just be a resource for your employees

Even though this is a new environment, it is completely manageable! You just need to find solutions that work best for you and your team. Don’t be afraid to be creative in how you connect with your team.

If you have any questions or want some more resources on how to manage your remote team, reach out to us! We’re always here to help and we are more than happy to share our experiences with you!

Virtual Happy Hour

posted by Abby Glenn |

Grab your drink of choice, cuddle up next to your pet and get ready for your next happy hour!

Right now, since everyone is in sort of a long-distance relationship, virtual happy hours are more important than ever to keep up with social interaction, have some laughs and figure out different ways to connect with each other.

There are many ways that we’ve found to keep our employees engaged and feel involved while working remote and we want to share those with you!

Have Fun!

One way that we’ve found to keep these virtual happy hours fun and really learn more about each other is to incorporate remote team building! Not only does this allow your employees to know each other, but they are also a great stress-reliever.

Introducing Pets/Kids!

Coworkers hear stories about everyone’s kids or pets either when they were in the office or over chat. Give them the opportunity to meet them on camera.

Play Some Icebreaker Games

Okay, we know what you’re thinking, “…but these are so cheesy!” Yes, we know they’re cheesy, but they’re also amazing at allowing your employees to talk and get to know each other better. Being remote can get extremely lonely and you want to offer time for employees to unwind. Here are some of our favorites!

1. What’s Your Favorite Thing?

This is a great game to play when you aren’t sure how people will respond to playing an icebreaker game during a happy hour.

2. In Common

Is your team having trouble coming up with new ideas or communicating effectively while being remote? This could be your solution! This game allows your employees to get back on track and work as a team to achieve the end goal in a non-stressful environment!

3. A Picture into Your Life

This game will allow your team to have fun and put their creativity to the test!

4. Take A Guess

Here is another game that allows your employees to utilize their creativity skills and learn about their coworkers in a fun way!

5. Chat Channels

Create fun, dedicated chat channels and announce them during your virtual happy hour. Do you know that your employees won’t respond well to a team building exercise? This could be the way that you get your employees to connect in a remote environment!

Keep It Simple!

You don’t need to always do something outside the box. Sometimes, the best way to get your employees to feel included is to just set up a time and space for them to talk and see one another. Having them add in their drink of choice allows the environment to feel a little more comfortable and laid back.

Need Help?

We would love to help you and your team navigate this new work from home environment! No matter if that’s through finding the best virtual happy hour solution or just the best work from home solution for you and your team. We’ve been doing this for a little over a year, so we would love to provide you with our insight! Feel free to send us a message!