You’re walking down an aisle at the grocery store when you realize none of the packages have labels. The shelves are lined with blank boxes, cans, and cartons. You know what you’re looking for, but can’t figure out what anything is. After all, you can’t tell a can of caviar from a can of cat food without some branding. Suddenly nothing seems appetizing and you start searching for an exit instead.
This is what it’s like for job seekers researching your company, when you don’t have a clear employer brand. They have no way of knowing if your company is something they want to sink their teeth into or stinky sardines. The way you market yourself as an employer to potential employees affects whether they want to work for you or not.
A 2015 survey from CareerArc found 75 percent of job seekers consider a company’s employer brand before applying with them. For those of you that have developed a strong brand, that’s music to your ears. But if you’re struggling to find a way to attract employees, it’s probably a little disheartening.
Employers face a variety of obstacles when it comes to building their brand. It’s difficult for small companies to stand out from more established names. Companies in industries that are less exciting have to find ways to appear appealing and interesting. But there are ways for every company to create a successful brand.
Here are six companies that are killing it with their employer brands and the lessons you can learn from them:
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the fact that this company has turned a Kung Fu movie into a company culture video.
OK, moment over. Now, let’s focus on their real success.
The strongest aspect of CloudLock’s employer brand is how it incorporates current employees. After the co-founders give a little bit of background on the company, in the career video, they get out of the way and let the employees do the talking.
By sharing their own views about and stories of the company, CloudLock employees give an honest account of what it’s like to work for the company. The career site, as a whole, has a very genuine feel, which makes all the positive things the employees say very believable.
Lesson learned: Potential employees want to know how current employees feel about the company.
As an employer, you can spend all day telling potential hires how great your company is, but they’re always going to take what you say with a grain of salt. If you have a strong team of employees that live and breathe the essence of your company, let them be the ones to show off everything you have to offer as a place of employment.
If you’re making an employer brand video, talk to your employees first. Ask them where their favorite place to be in the office is, and what their favorite part of working with the company is. Think about their answers, and decide what sets your company apart. Then record your employees talking about the things they love in their favorite spot in the office. Being comfortable while on camera will give their answers a natural quality that resonates well with potential employees.
A lot of companies offer paid vacation time to their employees, making it a nice, but all too common perk. FullContact, however, has taken things a step further and offers paid vacations and then pays the bill.
This goes a long way for many workers. A 2015 survey by CareerBuilder found that 19 percent of salaried employees could not make ends meet last year. Twenty-eight percent were unable to save any money at all. So even if a company offers paid vacation time, many employees can’t afford to actually go anywhere.
Bart Lorang, one of the company’s founders, recognized that the need for all employees to be able to relax away from work was so great, that he decided to give every employee 15 days paid vacation and $7,500 to spend however they wanted on the trip.
The only rules are that the money has to be spent on the vacation, employees can not work during the time off, and they have to disconnect from “the grid”. That means not spending every waking hour on your phone or laptop.
While the last rule might give employees a touch of nomophobia, the point is to improve their mental health. If the boss is saying you have to leave your cell in the hotel room, there’s no pressure to answer an email from a client. That way, employees can actually relax and enjoy everything around them.
Lesson learned: Show that you can address your employees’ needs.
Whether it’s the need for a vacation or better health insurance, recognizing and implementing ways to make your employees lives better is something that can set you apart as an employer.
For example, in the 2015 LinkedIn Why & How People Change Jobs survey, 45 percent of people reported changing jobs because of a lack of advancement opportunities. Develop and highlight training programs that will provide employees with the career paths other employers failed to give them. This shows both your current and future employees that you care about them and realize that their well-being affects the success of the company, and the vitality of the mission it serves.
About half-way down their career page, Shoes of Prey includes a slide show highlighting what they call their “culture code”. It delves into values and aspect of the company culture and explains why it is important to the work environment.
What the company does nicely is create an overarching theme of teamwork throughout its culture code. It believes in the power of a strong and united group of employees, and incorporates that belief in all aspects of its business.
Relationships with co-workers are important to individual employees. In a 2015 survey by Virgin Pulse, nearly 40 percent of responding employees listed their colleagues as the number one reason they loved their job. Shoes of Prey’s code of conduct does a great job of clearly explaining how potential employees would be interacting with others in the office.
Lesson learned: Don’t underestimate the power of “we”.
A lot of times employers specifically address the job seeker with their employer branding strategies. Think of all the times you’ve heard “You could work here!” in workplace culture videos. But remember that the pronoun “we” has an inclusionary feel to it. If teamwork is an important part of your business, find ways to make a potential employee feel like they’re already part of the group.
Also, consider other qualities that unite your workforce. If the company volunteers as a group with certain charities, incorporate that into your employer branding. It will not only show that your company gives back to its community, but also attract talent that supports the same causes. Inclusion and solidarity are powerful forces.
At the online education company, Treehouse, all employees work just four days a week. That’s it. The policy isn’t a result of the company not having enough work to fill up five days, it’s to help employees achieve better work/life balance.
In a 2015 global survey by EY, 24 percent of American workers report that balancing their professional and personal lives is becoming more difficult. Employers that help create harmony between work and home are magnets for top talent.
Treehouse is proving that it understands that employees have responsibilities and commitments outside of the office. Family, friends, and even a little me-time are all important parts of life, and they don’t believe you should have to miss out on any of it for work.
Lesson learned: Make it known that you recognize your employees exist outside of the office.
Employees aren’t just workers, they’re people. And they like to be treated as such. With many companies struggling to attract talent, they can’t ignore the fact that being an employer that supports work/life balance will do wonders for your employer branding.
If a shorter work week just isn’t feasible for your company, find other ways to reduce friction between home and work life. In-office daycare and organized carpools are great ways to support employees with children. Dog-walking services or the freedom to bring your pet to work helps pet-owners that work long hours. Even just taking care of small errands, like offering dry cleaning pickup/drop-off services, at the office, goes a long way with employees.
Prepare to have your mind blown. Expensify takes its entire team abroad for a month every year. And the company flips the bill.
The travel destination changes every year, and the only real requirement is that the location have wifi so business operations can continue. Yes, employees do still have to work, but they do so from a seaside cafe in Portugal. And surprisingly, the company says its most productive time of year is during their offshore excursion.
When all work-related duties are done for the day, employees take in the sights or lie on the beach. Given the length of time away from home, loved ones are also invited to come on the trip.
While the trip has to be an expensive investment, it has made recruiting talent a snap. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that takes you on an amazing adventure every year?
Lesson learned: Sometimes, big gestures pay of in a big way.
Expensify’s month-long excursions is a behemoth of an employee perk, and it does the trick. It gives employees the chance to travel the world, relax with each other away from the office, and create a close-knit team of employees. All things that make top talent stand up and take notice.
Of course not every company can just fly the entire office off to Thailand once a year. Look into other big hitting perks that you can offer your employees, like student loan reimbursement or free on-site spa and gym services. SC Johnson even offers concierge services that do everything from picking up groceries to shopping for car insurance deals for employees.
It’s not easy to make a software company that deals in customer service seem exciting, but that’s just what Zendesk does. By incorporating humor and honesty into their brand video, the company showcases a potentially dull sounding workplace’s personality.
The company is also using transparency to its advantage. Zendesk not only gives potential employees a look at the office life of current employees, but also the neighborhood restaurants employees eat lunch at, and the venues they go to unwind after work.
This allows interested job seekers to actually envision what it’d be like to work for the company and where they can find time to connect, outside of it. They want to know about the company culture, how the office functions, and that they’ll be happy on and off the clock. Zendesk’s video answers all these questions.
Lesson learned: There are other characteristics besides job descriptions that attract employees.
It’s not enough, or even necessary, that your company is doing cutting-edge, exciting work. Your office, location, and other environmental factors also affect how attractive your company is to talent. Give potential employees a complete picture of what it’s like to work for you so, before they even begin the interview process, they understand your company culture and know if it’s a good fit for every aspect of their life.
What other great employer brands examples have you come across and what lessons did they teach your? Share in the comments below!