Why you should concentrate on improving your employer reputation in 2020


Earlier this month, I read the Pew Research Center report on Trust and Distrust in America. As you can imagine, results from the survey revealed many familiar themes: skepticism of our leaders, mistrust in the quality of information we receive, and a general lack of faith in the systems and processes we rely upon.  

Remarkably, the largest percentage of participants studied (75 percent) said they only put their trust in “…the relationships within their control.”

Most notably among those relationships were the ones they hold with their employers.

So, what does this mean? If you’re an employer, an awful lot.

Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely be more engaged and committed, perform more effectively and profitably, and even advocate on their company’s behalf. Their employees are more likely to recommend their employer as a place to work, to post or share praise about their employer online, and to put more effort into their job than is required.

How employer trust affects recruitment

Here’s where this becomes important in the battle for top talent: job seekers – whether they're active or passive candidates – conduct online research to learn more about companies before they even take their first step to connect. And, just like most consumers do before any major purchase, they search for reviews before committing to that interview.

Candidates want to make sure the work experience they saw on your career site or company social channels, or heard about from a recruiter is genuine—because it so often isn’t. In fact, in a study last year published by Harvard Business Review, only 19% of the nearly 2,000 global employees surveyed said they felt strongly that the work experience their employer promotes publicly is matched by reality. In other words, it was often inconsistent with what they experienced when they joined the company.

And it’s often reflected in employee comments online!

Candidates, too, leave reviews that can hinder your ability to attract talent. According to a study by Career ARC, 72% of all candidates polled who have had a bad recruitment experience have shared it online. If you think your candidate’s voices, opinions, and reviews aren’t having an impact on your ability to recruit top talent, you might need to think again.

Building and keeping a strong employer brand reputation takes time, but following these simple steps will benefit your recruiting efforts almost immediately.

1. Foster a culture of trust

Too many open positions to staff? Learn how Powersourcing can fill your recruiter's pipeline fast.Trust is often talked about as the foundation of a company’s success between itself and its customers. But trust within the organization is just as important.  Your employees must believe in each other, and believe in you as a company. When they don’t, communication, teamwork and performance inevitably suffer.

One of the most important factors job seekers are looking for is happy employees, both current and former. They'll look for reviews online that detail employees' experience with the company to find out whether most people trust the company’s actions are in their best interest, too. When this trust is present it spills over outside of your organization making your company a place where people want to work. When a company is respected internally and externally, it can’t help but attract job seekers that align well with its culture and mission.

2. Be radically transparent

Great employer reputation management is not only about reacting well to what people say about your hiring process, your brand, or your products and services, but also about whether to react at all and, if so, when.

For example, when BP experienced its Deep-Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the VP executive, Tony Hayward, made a statement after the spill that focused on how it affected him personally instead of how the spill was affecting the environment and gulf community. In only a few words, he had taken whatever goodwill the community had toward the company—and pride the employees had in their work—and turned them. BP didn't just have to manage reactions to the event itself, but to a statement by leadership that made the company look selfish and unaware of their actions.

You may not need to react to reviews on such a broad scale, but there are many career content sites where knowing “how” and “when” to react can impact your employer brand greatly.

Sites today like Glassdoor, Indeed and Fairygodboss, (created by women for women), allow current and past employees to post reviews about their employers’ and their work experiences. These reviews are a prime opportunity for developing open and transparent communications.  By responding to positive and negative comments companies can better influence the conversation online, flagging inappropriate reviews and responding publicly to reviews that are critical but accurate.

I know that often it seems the people with a complaint are the ones who feel the need to speak up in these reviews. But you can encourage your happy employees to share positive opinions about your company on those sites, too. Sometimes, you've just got to ask for them! And make requesting employee reviews part of your annual review process--not just during exit interviews, but during annual employee reviews as well. There’s no better way to show candidates your organization’s positive attributes than through the words of a current employee.

3. Treat your Google results as your business card

First impressions count, and we do judge many books by their cover. If there are negative words associated with your brand, then that is something you should worry about. Check who shows up at the top of Google search when searching for “careers at your company name” or “jobs at your company name.”  If you find that those search results are owned by job boards or negative reviews, make it your priority to create positive content that Google can pick up for your page 1 results. 

4. Build a content action plan

New call-to-actionYour reputation is firmly rooted in the story you tell. And whether you’re trying to connect with your customers, your candidates or with current employees, the more personally your audience can relate to that story, the higher regard they’ll have for your company.

What stories can you share that gets your audience excited about the innovations you are creating to make tomorrow’s world better?  What stories can you relate about the people behind those innovations? Create content that may surprise your audience, inspire them, or spark their curiosity. Whether presented in a blog or as “revolving” content as part of your site, the story you tell will help your audience align with and respect the purpose of the organization, and how they could play a part as a member of your team.

Not sure where to start?  Engage your recent hires to learn what they looked for in other company websites where they were considering opportunities.  Make it a goal to add new content quarterly to your career site; the right content will not only make your site a destination for job seekers, but also help your employees stay proud and engaged in the work they do.

5. Improve your Candidate Experience

Candidate Experience is one of the hottest topics in the HR world. Since the mid-2000s, the term gained even more traction with the introduction of Talent Board’s CandE awards in 2010. However, despite the attention it receives, the topic of improving it is still a source of great consternation among Human Resource professionals, as they often struggle to connect the dots between external factors that influence that experience and the daily operations and processes within the recruiting process that ultimately define it. This struggle leads to uncertainty, inevitably delaying the adoption of simple measures that could lead directly to improving a candidate’s overall experience. 

To ensure that we are on the same page, the Candidate Experience is the overall quality of ALL the interactions a job seeker or candidate has with your company through every touchpoint.  An interaction can include awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, applying for a job, declining/accepting your offer and onboarding into your company.

Before setting out on a strategy to improve your Candidate Experience, you’ll need to take a few important steps:

  • Create a candidate-focused vision that you can communicate to your organization.  You can use other companies as your benchmarks but remember they don’t have the same people, process or technologies that you have in place. 

    The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles on how you are going to interact with candidates.  Every member of the organization should know these principles by heart and they should be embedded into all areas of training and development. 

  • Understand your candidate personas. Not all candidates are the same. Each engages with your brand at different points along the way based on where they are in their job seeking journey and what stage they are at in their career. If your company is going to understand your candidates’ needs and wants, then identifying and building out candidate personas will help you connect and empathize with the situations that your candidates’ face. 

    One way to do this is to create candidate personas and give each persona a name and personality. For example: Anne is 30 years old; she’s an engineer, loves new technology and wants to use technology to change patient safety.  She is adept enough to follow a video tutorial on her own on what makes engineers successful in your business, whereas John, a Business Analyst (42 years old) likes to follow a process and needs to see how your processes allow him to build upon your already effective and efficient supply chain management strategy.  

    Not sure where to start? You’ll find a handy guide to building a well-defined persona at this link; as important as this step is to understanding “how to connect,” I  still don’t see many employers making this part of their overall recruiting strategy.

  • Create an emotional connection with your candidates. We just spoke about “telling stories,” and there are so many companies which use the power of stories to make an emotional connection with consumers, employees, and job candidates alike. One of these is the #DeltaMoments series from Delta Airlines:

    #DeltaMoments are video clips of employees going out of their way to help their customer. Yes, this video was likely created (originally) to build an emotional connection with customers. But these do double-duty. Based on true stories, and filmed using the actual employees the stories are around, #DeltaMoments celebrate a customer-centric culture and values that speak to an employee and candidate, too. In this clip, a little girl left her cherished doll behind on a flight. The flight attendant in question made sure that the doll made it to the little girl’s next connecting flight buckled in her seat.

    I bet you can find many stories among your employees that can speak to the culture, benefits, and working environment in a genuine way that connect with all audiences, too.

    Interested in connecting more with your candidates? Check out this blog post on how making an emotional connection to your employee brand will draw more candidates to your company.
  • Make the hiring experience personal. I know you have heard the phrase “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” Well, the best candidate experiences are achieved when members of your recruiting teams and hiring managers take a few extra steps to create emotional connections with your candidates, regardless if they will be hired into the role.   

    New call-to-actionFor example, following up with candidates to ask about their interviewing experience, offering them feedback to improve their interviewing skills if needed and, most importantly, letting them know they have valuable skills to offer are small kindnesses that let candidates know they’re seen as a person, not as a potential “butt in the seat.”

  • Imagine how small measures, like these, can reflect on your culture!

  • Lastly, measure your vision. Noted engineer and author W. Edwards Deming once said “without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” Sharing data that validates your efforts to improve your employer reputation will keep your recruiters and hiring managers invested in your vision. Keep track of where you were when you started, how did you progress along the way and in what ways/processes/areas you still need improvement.  

Do you know what it takes to drive better engagement with your candidates and employees? Talk with the experts at Newton Talent and learn how we can help you build and implement the right strategy for your company. Connect with us.

Written by Patty Silbert

President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.