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Let’s Talk: Why is employer branding more important now than ever?

When we hear the word “branding,” we probably all focus more on the marketing aspect — business logos, tag lines, brand communication, and potential customer feedback.

While they frequently serve as the primary focus of brand recognition, we frequently overlook the importance of employer branding. This is true particularly now that job searchers have access to a wealth of information about a business’ hiring practices via social media, career review websites, and technological advancements.

This is what we’ll be talking about in this week’s Let’s Talk. Our experts will discuss why employer branding is important, how to ensure your company is not missing out on top talent, and how to begin developing a winning strategy.

Let’s Talk.

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Nicole Gorton, Director, Robert Half

Nicole Gorton
Nicole Gorton, Director, Robert Half

“Workers are spoilt for choice in today’s jobs market so a company’s reputation as an employer can make or break their ability to secure and retain preferred candidates.

“Employers are now spending an increasing amount of time and effort on actively promoting and selling their brand and organisation during the interview process as a way to win the war for talent. A strong employee value proposition, including attractive remuneration packages, opportunities for growth and development, and well-developed work-life balance initiatives are all factors that are high on candidates’ wish lists and have the capability to encourage ‘emotional buy-in’ among candidates as a key differentiator for employers.

“Companies need to use a variety of channels, ranging from social media, website, LinkedIn and job boards to effectively communicate why they are a better employer than their competitors and what stands out about their brand specifically.

“Established employer branding is not only helpful to secure top talent, it also increases the tenure of a company’s existing employees. Employees working within a positive company culture are more engaged, have higher levels of satisfaction and are likely to stay with the company longer.

“Being transparent and effectively communicating a company’s unique selling proposition, to both new and existing employees are therefore key to attract and keep top talent in a highly competitive market.”

Helen Lea, Chief Employee Experience Officer, MYOB

Helen Lea
Helen Lea, Chief Employee Experience Officer, MYOB

“The dynamics in the employer-employee relationship have shifted somewhat as result of the tight talent market. There are currently more jobs available than people to fill the roles, and according to the National Skills Commission, recruitment has been consistently more difficult this year compared with 2021. Research MYOB conducted last month also indicates people are more willing to move around in a hot market, and that the employee experience SMEs offer is an important decision factor for 9 in 10 people when they’re considering a new job. With 3 in 5 SMEs telling us they’re looking to hire people within the next six months, getting this right is crucial.

“When you do find the right talent, you then want to do everything you can to keep them in your business so we should all be continuously assessing the experience we offer regardless of circumstances or business size. The good news is 85% of Australian SMEs we surveyed have increased their focus on this recently and 4 in 5 employees think their workplace offers a good experience, so this heightened attention is clearly paying off.”

Julian Stevenson, Product & Workforce Development Director, RMIT Online

Julian Stevenson
Julian Stevenson, Product & Workforce Development Director, RMIT Online

“With talent shortages across most industries in Australia right now, retaining valued team members is critical. But it’s important to understand the work doesn’t stop once your new candidate has signed the contract, it has to be an authentic and ongoing commitment to your employees.

“Earlier this year, RMIT Online conducted a research report, The Salary Trap, which identified most unsatisfied workers (57%) don’t feel valued by their employers, and half of those (51%) believe they aren’t receiving adequate compensation for their current role or level of responsibility.

“Therefore, the root of a strong employer brand is ensuring you’re actively putting strategies together to prioritise the entire employer value proposition – whether this be through remuneration, providing on-the-job or formal training opportunities to help staff realise their potential, or prioritising culture initiatives and incentives.

“Define your value propositions, as well as your values, take time to understand the perception internally, and actively strive to build a positive and engaging company culture.

“A strong employer branding experience will unite your people, brand and overall strategy towards creating a culture of passion, advocacy and professional development. This is where employees are connected through purpose and become advocates for the brand and direction of the business.”

Juhi McInerney, Chief Operating Officer, Moore Australia

Juhi McInerney
Juhi McInerney, Chief Operating Officer, Moore Australia

“All businesses have an employer brand whether they consciously cultivate it or not. It goes beyond just a tagline. In a candidate-first marketplace, an effective employer brand strategy helps to differentiate from other businesses, thereby helping to attract and retain top talent.

“An authentic and carefully crafted employer brand strategy helps to ensure the business attracts candidates that are aligned to the business culture, resulting in higher retention. It’s critical that the employee experience matches the expectations outlined throughout the recruitment process. Additionally, employee storytelling is a compelling way to market your brand in a genuine and unique way.

“Why should people want to work with/for you?” is the question an employer brand strategy needs to answer. Businesses have the opportunity to control the narrative around this question and ultimately how their brand is perceived.”

Mellissah Smith, Founder, Marketing Eye

Mellissah Smith
Mellissah Smith, Founder, Marketing Eye

“Reviews are dominating internet search on brands when job seekers are sourcing information about companies they want to work for. With so many fake reviews taking precedence, brands are being damaged irrevocably. The fight-back for companies today is to make sure they have invested in their brand so that it supersedes anything that may be found on reviews or on job sites. Highlighting what it’s like to work for your company on social media with real reviews and testimonials from employees past and present is key. But the real brand ‘kicker’ is when employees amplify your brand on LinkedIn or in Facebook groups. This is what takes employer branding to a whole new level.

“Competitors and disgruntled employees know how easy it is to write fake reviews across job sites, Google and other places anonymously, and hiring overseas companies to counteract that is a no-no and recipe for disaster. Instead, being on the front foot and building your employer brand with the same gusto as you do for the overall company branding, will help your business not only attract the right talent, but retain them too.

“Like any strategy that relates to people, be authentic.”

Karina Guerra, Global GM of Customer Intelligence and Marketing, Xref

Karina Guerra
Karina Guerra, Global GM of Customer Intelligence and Marketing, Xref

“The talent shortage climate has challenged leaders. Creative strategies are continually being developed to attract and retain talent. However, it is the most essential elements of a company culture and employer branding that are most relevant in today’s environment.

“Employees are questioning the mission and vision of the organisations they work for. We want to feel a sense of purpose linked to our daily job.

“A business’s employer branding strategy is important as it is a crucial element in building a committed team. Candidates and employees who question the values behind the brand, bring a hopeful perspective of humanity willing to make a contribution to society.

As leaders, it’s time for us to revisit our values and take advantage of the great opportunity that we have in building stronger brands that are respected and appreciated by our people.

“A solid and effective employer brand strategy is the result of a team working together, dreaming together on how we can change the world. Organisational values have to be aligned with what matters to our customers and employees.

“It’s about understanding what makes our people unique. Dare to ask and create a plan to act on the opportunities that you will light.”

Verity Lowe, General Manager of People and Culture, Keep Left

Verity Lowe
Verity Lowe, General Manager of People and Culture, Keep Left

“When you’re trapped in an economic downturn coupled with a talent shortage and upwards salary pressure, you could be forgiven for wondering how you’ll ever make your next hire. Is throwing out extra cash and benefits the only option to attract talent?

“It’s certainly an option, but competing on price is not a strategy most businesses can sustain. As an alternative, businesses with a strong employment brand will find there is talent for the taking. Your brand is your safety net, no matter the economic climate.

“It’s important to remember though, that there is a difference between employer brand and employee benefits. Yes, dog-friendly offices, wellness days, bonus schemes and flexibility are all important, but they are not your brand. Your brand should stem from your values and beliefs. What do you stand for? And most importantly, how does this play out day to day? Potential employees want to know what the experience of working for your brand will be like.

“So, if you’re clear on what you stand for and communicate this loudly and proudly to the market, the right candidates will find it hard to turn you down.”

Ryan Williams, Director of the Australian Centre for Business Growth

Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams, Director of the Australian Centre for Business Growth

“When a business makes an HR recruitment function more marketing-centric with an employer branding strategy, companies can better communicate:

  1. The Who: When a company clearly communicates their mission and who they are, they help employees understand who they need. Think about the ideal “customer” (the potential recruit). Just as marketing creates buyer personas that describe the perfect customer, candidate personas can be created to clearly define who the ideal employee is.
  2. The What: As recruitment is no longer solely about a candidate selling themself to an organisation, companies selling themselves to potential candidates should consider employer branding. E.g. What are the strengths of the company when it comes to managing people? What is the culture like?
  3. The Where: This strategically places the company for maximum awareness among its ideal candidates. Promoting an ad to maximise engagement and persuasion is critical, which means leveraging digital tools such as social media to increase the possibility of the right “eyeballs” seeing your messages.

“By adopting an employer branding strategy, businesses will be able to create an advantage by communicating effectively and adopting a proactive approach in supporting and looking after their talent for both recruitment and retention.”

Ros Weadman, Brand Communication and Reputation Specialist

Ros Weadman
Ros Weadman, Brand Communication and Reputation Specialist

“The current marketplace is defined by talent shortages, low trust and changed employee expectations, so building a brand people want to work for has never been more important.

“According to PwC, Millennials are 5.3 times more likely to stay with an employer when they have a strong connection to their employer’s purpose and non-Millennials are 2.3 times more likely to stay. When businesses embrace a higher purpose beyond making money, they can make a deep emotional connection with their employees because they can link their work to an inspiring end cause.

“That’s why an effective brand strategy starts with culture – shared purpose, beliefs and values – these are the pillars that galvanise employee mindsets to achieve business objectives. Not only does culture influence employee morale, productivity and retention, the collective mindset culture nurtures also has a direct bearing on the customer experience, ultimately defining company brand and reputation.

“When businesses make clear what they stand for as a brand and are consistent with their intentions, words and actions, they build credibility, foster trust and become a beacon to attract like-minded prospective employees. They also empower their most important brand ambassadors – current employees – to champion their brand, thereby strengthening their employer of choice status.”

Rachel Russell, Director of Talent Acquisition, Carma

Rachel Russell
Rachel Russell, Director of Talent Acquisition, Carma

“A business is only as strong as its people. When you’re growing at scale, building a trusted customer brand is crucial, but having an employer branding strategy is just as important. It enables you to attract the best talent, with the right skills, attributes and cultural fit to represent your company and build your business. A strong employer brand will give potential candidates the information they need to ensure alignment of values, goals, and opportunities.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen the employment dynamic shift due to the rise in remote working and widespread skills shortages. This has created a more competitive market for employers, who must step up their branding strategies and stand out in order to secure top talent.

“At Carma, we have teams across buying, technology and engineering, production, mechanical, marketing, and customer success. We’ve also built a team of over 100 in 18 months, giving us a unique view of the hiring market across multiple industries and disciplines. Regardless of role, candidates have become more discerning in choosing a job that offers the optimal working environment & culture, opportunities for progression, benefits and flexibility that are right for them.”

Tony Maguire, Regional Director, Australia and New Zealand, D2L

Tony Maguire
Tony Maguire, Regional Director, Australia and New Zealand, D2L

“A company’s employer brand is an essential asset to nurture – not only from a product or service perspective but from how it is perceived by potential employees. Many companies are offering benefits or incentives that wouldn’t have been common five years ago and yet, Australian companies are still struggling finding enough employees.

“Having a branding strategy focusing on short term and long terms goals is one way to help navigate the talent pool challenges and maintain a company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

“Offering perks like regular staff lunches are nice but proof that you are investing in your staff is what sets employers apart during the recruitment process. This could be through the introduction of micro-credentials and personalised training. These career incentives will be more attractive for prospective employees’ career development and will provide them with skills that will boost their career prospects and make them more loyal to their employer.

“Your people are your greatest asset, they power your business and humanise your value proposition. Investing in learning and training technologies such as Learning Management Systems can be a differentiator when attracting and retaining staff. Incorporating lifelong learning opportunities defines you as an employer of choice and should be key to your branding strategy.”

Melissa Hyland, Human Resources Manager, ipSCAPE

Melissa Hyland
Melissa Hyland, Human Resources Manager, ipSCAPE

“Employer branding is all about the image you portray to potential employees. It’s your company’s public image in the eyes of those planning to make their next career move. A clear employer branding strategy is vital to attracting, retaining and keeping talented employees.

“Employer branding consists of a comprehensive recruiting strategy, a focused corporate message and a long-term vision. These three initiatives are embedded into ipSCAPE’s employer branding strategy. We promote career and leadership development while also building awareness of our company workplace culture through our active social media presence on LinkedIn.

“As the HR Manager at ipSCAPE, I am proud to be partnering with Microsoft & the top four universities in Sydney, where we regularly recruit graduates. I attend graduate fairs and participate in employer opportunities at these Universities as graduates and top talent wish to work for companies with a positive reputation.

“ipSCAPE has also recently been recognised as one of the Best Places to Work in Australia by WRK+, which is an incredible achievement and a testament to our strong employer brand.”

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers

“With record low unemployment, labour shortages and fierce competition for talent, employers are struggling in an environment where attracting and retaining great people has become harder than ever.

“The pool of available talent has reduced significantly, which is translating to higher salary expectations. Retaining good people, who may be tempted by more money elsewhere, has become increasingly difficult.

“Under these circumstances, the only way to find and keep staff is to become an employer of choice. What this essentially means is that your company has built a reputation (or brand) associated with being a great place to work. This may encompass culture, remuneration, flexibility, entitlements, wellbeing initiatives and anything else which encourages people to turn up to work each day.

“Importantly, being an employer of choice shouldn’t just be lip service. These practices should be legally enshrined in company policy and/or employment contracts and enacted accordingly. Employees are savvy and have options, so ensuring that their rights and entitlements are protected will be expected. This may include developing and facilitating a flexible work policy, diversity protocol, health and wellbeing initiatives, additional leave entitlements or bonus structures.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

“Today a growing number of people are switching careers to better align to their values, seeking out workplaces that are flexible and diversified.

“Our Small and Medium Business Trends Report revealed that to compete in an increasingly tight talent market, close to one third (29%) of SME leaders are placing a bigger focus on ensuring their actions reflect their business values. Additionally, 23% of leaders are making an effort to best align employees’ passions with their work duties.

“That’s why it’s so important for businesses to develop an employee-first branding strategy that aligns business values with the values of their people. Businesses will not only benefit from attracting talent, but also from increased engagement and productivity among both new and existing staff.

“At Salesforce, for example, we continuously strive to increase diversity among our teams and develop career pathways for underrepresented minority groups, which stems from our core value of equality and that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. On the other hand, we recently launched Salesforce Net Zero Cloud for carbon emissions tracking and reduction, which aligns to our value of sustainability. It’s something we’re passionate about and we know our people value.”

Becca Chambers, SVP of Global Brand and Communications, Alludo

Becca Chambers
Becca Chambers, SVP of Global Brand and Communications, Alludo

“The emphasis on brand might be the single biggest missing piece I see in B2B organisations. There are three key things to balance when building a business: purpose, strategy, and culture. Too often, leadership is solely focused on strategy, leaving purpose and culture to marketing and HR teams to squeeze in when there’s time and money. However, successful strategy hinges on what’s happening with your purpose and culture. And what’s at the intersection of strategy, purpose, and culture? Brand.

“Brand isn’t simply a function of marketing. It is your identity and should dictate everything you do. It defines your purpose and drives your culture, informing strategy decisions at every level. Your brand impacts every function in your business, including marketing, HR, sales, product, CX, operations, employee engagement, and finance (and everything in between!). Unfortunately, many B2B companies don’t understand and value the impact that brand has on their overall business.

“To improve your B2B branding, start by letting it out of your marketing team and allowing it to impact every department. Chief Branding Officers should be the norm. Every strategic decision should be filtered through the brand to see if it’s in alignment. A strong brand is the differentiating factor that will allow both employees and companies to thrive in this new work landscape. And it can make or break the success of your company.”

Jornt Moerland, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mendix

Jornt Moerland
Jornt Moerland, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mendix

“While the term ‘democratisation’ might be a little trite these days, the broad trend we see making the greatest impact for SMBs is the adoption of technologies that were once only available to large enterprises. For example, we’ve seen businesses of all sizes adopt AI-based tools to help support them through supply chain disruptions, skills shortages, workflow digitization and customer experience enhancement these past few years. We’ve also seen SMBs adopt out-of-the-box solutions, like Shopify, that can essentially do for them what a dedicated team might do in an enterprise.

“We believe the next frontier is smaller businesses developing their own business software or applications. While in the past this would have required a in-house development team or external IT services – a luxury for any SMB – low- and no-code tools are providing a route to smaller businesses to create the software solutions they need for their businesses to thrive.

“Using model-driven development, low-code platforms offer a range of intuitive features like drag-and-drop components to allow even non-technical professionals to create impactful software solutions. The power of low-code is that it empowers SMEs to utilize existing talent to build and deliver apps faster without incurring heavy costs – especially during a talent shortage that will likely continue as demand for tech workers strips supply.”

Simran Kaur, Founder and CEO, Pounce Marketing

Simran Kaur
Simran Kaur, Founder and CEO, Pounce Marketing

“In my experience, many companies direct all their efforts into making their brand appealing for consumers but neglect to make it appealing to the people who work on it or are considering doing so. And that’s where I find an employer branding strategy can be really helpful. It allows you to control the narrative around your company and ensure higher talent acquisition and retention.

“Put the right strategy in place, and your employees will want to continue working for you. This, in turn, will significantly reduce turnover rate and hiring costs.

“Recent research shows a good employer brand can reduce turnover rates by 28% and cut costs per hire by half. Plus, if your current employees are happy, they are going to say nice things about you in the workplace, and this will encourage prospective employees to join.

“75% of job seekers state that they are more likely to apply to an employer who actively manages their employer brand.

“Last point I want to make is that a good employer brand strategy can increase customer loyalty. Modern consumers are far more likely to bond with an organisation where the employees are treated ethically.

“So, now you know the importance of a good employer branding strategy, isn’t it time you started employing one?”

Kerrie Lawrence, Creative Director, Sound Images

Kerrie Lawrence
Kerrie Lawrence, Creative Director, Sound Images

“Some new employees fit in immediately. Some don’t. And there’ll always be that risk. But when you start with an employer brand strategy that is clear on who you are, what your brand represents and the values shared across the team, you have a better chance of attracting like-minded people.

“No one shares your culture – and why you’re so great to work for – better than your current employees. So when you plan all the elements of your employer brand strategy, include your wonderful people to help spread the word.

“The tactic? Use grabs from employee interviews in recruitment videos. There’s a raw honesty in these conversations. They can cover what they love about working in your company, the way you work together, the values you all share. Alongside the workplace culture seen through the lens of your employees, a recruitment video also allows you to wrap up the visual elements of your branding.

“When it costs you time, dollars and energy to attract, interview and onboard new employees, it makes sense to nail your branding before you cast out that net. And your recruitment video will catch more keepers.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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