You may have noticed the buzz about employer branding over the last several years. As the digital information age continues to flourish, there is a growing awareness among top executives that managing their company’s public, consumer-facing brand isn’t enough. They must also manage their reputation as employers.

The global economy is rapidly changing, leaving 73 percent of CEOs worried about having the right people to meet challenging growth goals. According to Manpower, 38 percent of companies are struggling to fill open positions, which eventually impacts their ability to provide products and services to customers.

As a leader, how can you attract great talent, inspire loyalty, and optimize employee performance? It starts with strengthening your employer brand.

Early on, employer branding focused on how companies could apply marketing principles to hiring employees—typically through employment advertising and later, social recruiting. Today, employer branding has evolved to become an inside-out, strategic process companies use to become an employer of choice and to drive employee engagement. Executives now realize the impact of employer branding on talent acquisition, corporate culture, internal communication and marketing.

Everyone owns the employment brand. Managing your company’s employer brand isn’t the responsibility of a single department—HR, marketing or corporate communications. HR will need to understand how the consumer brand aligns with the employer brand. Marketing teams will need to know how market developments affect workforce planning and employee retention. Everyone will need to become better, stronger internal communicators.

5 Steps to Attracting, Engaging and Retaining Your Best People

The competition for talent, especially in technical, highly-skilled professions, is expected to increase. Here are ways your company can position itself as an employer of choice:

  1. Evaluate your existing employer brand. Marketing can support HR in developing an internal audit of employee perceptions and beliefs to assess existing employer brand awareness and reputation.
  2. Define your employer brand. Why should someone work for your company? And, why should they stay? Your answers become the basis of your employee value proposition (EVP), which describes how you want to be perceived in a clear, compelling way.
  3. Map your employer brand throughout the employee life-cycle. There are four distinct phases of an employee life-cycle that you must consider: attracting new talent, on-boarding new hires, engaging employees, and bidding farewell.
  4. Manage your employer brand. Similar to your company’s consumer brand, your employer brand must constantly be monitored and managed. Many companies leverage social media to highlight key employer strengths, but also to listen to “the word on the street.”
  5. Educate and communicate well internally. It’s one thing to design a strategy for employer branding, but success is in execution. It’s important for managers and employers to know how to deliver on the employer brand experience—through their actions and their words.

Companies can no longer afford to be passive about employer branding. The competition for talent is too high. Plus, the well-known branding advice holds true here: if you don’t define your brand, someone else will. Don’t leave your employer brand to chance.

About Michele Richardson

Michele Richardson is an internal communication consultant and speaker on a mission to build workplaces where people are led by passion and purpose. She advises executives and organizations on how to attract, engage and retain top talent through the art of communication and the science of organizational behavior. Her clients include Boeing, Toyota, CareerBuilder, Sodexo and KPMG. Learn more about how to work with her here or catch up with her on Twitter.

To learn more about Michele’s approach to employer branding, register to attend the next San Diego HR Roundtable Lunch & Learn on March 15 at 11:45 am.