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The Cost of an Aimless Employer Brand

Article by Becca Marshall and image by Sarah McLerren

When you think about the target audiences for your brand or company, who comes to mind?

Did your employees make the list? That was a test.

As much time and money as advertisers spend on touchpoint strategies, disruptive media placements, and creative testing, the area that is the most overlooked (and costly) to companies is internal employment. And not costly in a vague, unquantifiable way. According to Harvard Business Review, when companies fail to invest in their reputation as an employer, it costs an average of $5,000 per employee, or the equivalent of spending 10% more per employee hired.

Two-thirds of HR leads globally say that the labor shortage is getting worse. Skills gaps, high employee turnover, and all-time-high rates of burnout are making the recruitment of qualified employees increasingly difficult, and, therefore, increasingly expensive and time-intensive. And yet, there are nearly two open jobs for every unemployed job seeker in the United States. But, is the problem really that, “no one wants to work these days?” Or do people just not want to work for you?

Before taking that long, hard look in the mirror, let’s back up. What exactly is an employer brand, and what makes it a crucial aspect of recruitment and retention success?

Your employer brand is how you present your company to the talent market, and your company’s reputation as an employer is what drives perceptions. Just as consumers make buying decisions based on emotional or instinctual perceptions of your brand’s reputation, so do potential employees. In fact, three out of four employees consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.

At the core of an employer brand is the employer value proposition (EVP). The EVP describes the “what’s in it for me?” aspect of working for your company. What does the employee get in exchange for giving you their skills and experience? This is the promise you make to employees, and it should explicitly communicate the values of your corporate brand and define what is unique about the experience of working at your company. It’s easy to jump right to employment perks when thinking about an EVP, but a company’s values have become an integral part of employment evaluation. So much so that six in ten employees choose a workplace based on shared values, and 46% of employees say they are considering leaving their current company because it does not exemplify the values that they personally hold (honesty, integrity, inclusion being some potential examples.)

In this post-pandemic, competitive job market, your EVP will need to go above and beyond “good pay, decent benefits” to catch the eyes of candidates. Flexible work options, a work/life balance, career development opportunities, employee recognition and reward programs, social responsibility and DEI commitments are just a few examples of elements that could pique the interest of prospective employees (and make current employees stay put).

When it comes to developing an EVP, the best way to start is to center your research around your current employees (remember that test from earlier?) This ensures the EVP resonates with the existing employee audience and is rooted in truths that your company is able to deliver. Begin by treating your current employees like you would any other target audience. Find out about their needs, desires and barriers. What do they want from an employer? What made them join your company in the first place? What has made them stay?

The people you hire are the face and voice of your brand. They may not be featured in your advertisements, but they wield a powerful influence by being a critical “touch point” for anyone who interacts with your brand. Your employees’ ability to share the beliefs and values of your company can make or break the brand experience, whether the message recipient is a current employee, prospective employee, or potential customer. And when your employees are happy, they’ll say good things about their jobs and your company. Good things that might even make others want to work for you, buy from you, or advocate for you. When they are not happy … well, you get it.

When done the right way, a great employer brand will spark the interest of qualified job seekers, create a legion of motivated employees, and establish brand consistency in the marketplace. By aligning on corporate values, employee benefits, and reward structures from the top down, your employer brand will keep your existing employees engaged and attract smaller pools of exceptional candidates, all while building your company’s reputation as a great place to work. So put your money where your mouth is. Listen to your employees, differentiate your corporate brand, and create a culture people want to join. And if your company isn’t willing to take that look in the mirror, it’ll cost you. It probably already has.

In a world where attention spans are limited, we're glad you stuck with it and made it to the end of this article because we certainly think it was worth the read. If you like what you saw and want to know how you can partner with a team that's brimming with creative ideas, reach out to our CMO, Taylor Bryant (, and get a conversation with Mythic started today.

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