A small business can start with just one employee (you!) and a coffee table. However, it probably won't last that way very long — at least not if your big plans are going to come true. Eventually, you'll need to build a dynamite team to take your startup to the next level.
However, finding the right people represents a major challenge. With limited resources and only a brief track record, you can't just pluck the most talented rising stars the way a Google or a Facebook might. You'll need all the help you can get to find and attract the employees you need.
It helps if you have the right brand. Learn from the experience you gain burnishing your consumer-facing reputation and apply those lessons to your prospective employees. In other words, invest some time and energy in developing your employer brand.
What is employer branding?
Consider the time and consideration you put into your company's reputation with consumers. You carefully cultivate an image that resonates with potential buyers. At the same time, you align the idea of your small business with certain values and priorities.
Your overall goal is to position your products and services as more than just corporate offerings. You want your customers to see you as something like a friend.
Now, think about how you can apply some of those same techniques to current and prospective employees. That's the heart of employer branding. You become more than a place to pick up a paycheck — you create a career destination for ambitious, innovative talent.
[With the right employer branding] you become more than a place to pick up a paycheck — you create a career destination for ambitious, innovative talent.
What are the benefits of creating a strong employer brand?
With increased awareness of employer branding, the role of HR departments has shifted. As a small business, you might not have a structure that could honestly be called "an HR department" -- that part of the business might only consist of you and an Indeed account. But still, the fact that 86% of HR insiders view recruitment as an act of marketing should indicate how you should view the process.
It's an important consideration. A bad reputation can damage your ability to recruit the talent you need. One study showed that two-thirds of men and 86% of women would stay away from an employer with a bad reputation.
That's the downside of failing the branding test. But what's the upside of passing it? Here are a few advantages you receive by creating a strong employer brand:
Better Applicants for Your Open Positions
Job seekers research companies before applying. Yes, this "research" often consists of a simple Google search. But you need to make sure you ace this test.
Fewer People Turn Down Your Job Offers
The best candidates will likely have other options. As a startup, you might not have the funds to win on the compensation front. A strong employer brand helps you convince your top targets to join your team.
You Don't Have to Overpay for High-Level Talent
Overcoming a bad reputation can be hard on your budget. Remember all those people who wouldn't take a job with a low-reputation company? Well, the same study found that 67% of employed workers would take more money to move to a company they found unseemly.
So it's possible to overcome a less-than-stellar name. It just costs money. Preserving your employer brand means keeping your labor costs as low as possible.
Retention Becomes Easier
A strong employer brand doesn't just give you a boost with prospective team members. Your current employees will also appreciate the effort. The programs you put in place to improve your reputation will also build loyalty with your present staff. This makes it easier to keep them over the long haul.
Tips to improve your employer brand
So you've decided that you need to upgrade your employer brand. How do you get that done?
It can be difficult as a small business. You don't have the cash for nap pods or massages, like Google does. (Though, in the new remote world, these perks might not even help you that much, even if you could afford them.)
Still, there are steps you can take. Here are few tips to help you improve your employer brand:
Define Your Brand
Before you can project a strong employer brand, you have to define what you want it to communicate. This will help you focus your efforts, letting you maximize your ROI on your branding investments.
Prioritize Employee Satisfaction
Take your employees into account as you set policies. They are stakeholders in your operation and small concessions to their wellbeing can drive long-term value for your firm. Otherwise, you could face recruiting problems in the future.
Just look at Amazon as an example. The retailing giant became notorious for its attempts to drive efficiency at its warehouses, often to the detriment of its employees. Long term, this could undermine the retailing giant’s ability to compete, as executives in the firm worry that high turnover will eventually lead it to run out of a viable labor pool.
Use Social Media
Just like you cultivate your consumer brand, use the tools of the trade to bulk up your employer brand.
Take to social media to trumpet the value of working for your company. Praise employees. Offer glimpses into life at your firm. This will provide valuable content for future prospective hires to consume as they consider whether to join your organization.
Keep Good Relations with Former Employees
Your former employees act as brand ambassadors. Freed from any financial interest in painting a rosy picture of life at your company, they can disclose what they really feel about your operations. Do what you can to make sure they say nice things.
Fasttrack your startup with a great employer brand
You may have launched your small business on your own, but you'll need the support of a dynamic team to grow and scale your company. An investment in a stellar employer brand will make that easier.
One study showed that two-thirds of men and 86% of women would stay away from an employer with a bad reputation.
Take the time and resources needed to build an employer brand that resonates with your target job candidates. Long term, this will help you to save time and money when it comes to recruiting and hiring.
More than that, though, the effort contributes to your ability to nurture a winning team with shared values and goals. Ultimately, that will be your key to lasting success.