authentic employer brand

You Can’t Hack an Employer Brand: Why Authenticity Is Essential for Your Organization

Over the past few years, a lot of time has been spent discussing the importance of understanding and promoting employer branding. Advocates have allocated substantial resources to the short-term and long-term benefits of investing in your employer brand. Yet the critical role of authenticity when developing and expressing your employer brand is typically overlooked in all of this. So what role does an authentic employer brand play in showcasing what great looks like in your organization? How do you benefit by revealing what it’s really like to work at your company?

The Importance of Authenticity

While it may be tempting to represent your company as the perfect work utopia, you will reap more benefits by marketing your organization as an imperfect, authentic place to work over an idealistic, unauthentic organization. A successful employment brand has the potential to increase employee engagement, quality of hire, retention and sales—just to name a few. Conversely, an inauthentic brand can be equally detrimental. In today’s world of transparency, a lack of uniformity in who you are will quickly be exposed online and could deter candidates before the recruiting process even begins.

Regardless of the authenticity of the employer brand you’re marketing, current and former employees have the ability to provide employer reviews on websites such as Glassdoor. Your employer brand can either be validated by these comments or exposed for its inaccuracies, leading to confusion, or worse, distrust from current and potential employees. Recently, a survey found that 75% of American workers would refuse a job with a company that has a bad reputation. That is a huge portion of candidates you can’t afford to lose. Conversely, an authentic employer brand serves as a cultural compass for your business  and can help make you a top performing employer of choice.

Let Research Be Your Guide

So how do you establish the foundation for an employment brand that accurately reflects what great looks like for your company? Our best practice approach starts with research. Distilling existing data. Looking at secondary information. Conducting stakeholder interviews and focus groups. Leveraging the IBM Cultural Insight Survey. It’s the combination of primary and secondary research that helps you identify essential characteristics of your authentic culture.

After sharing this research with internal stakeholders and your leadership team, the research findings should be moved into creative expression and development of an authentic Employee Value Proposition (EVP). That becomes the basis for articulating your employer brand into a simple, meaningful message that employees can identify with and that make your employer brand attractive to the right candidates during the recruitment process.

Accept Who You Are—And Thrive

Going through the process of cultural research and creative EVP expression can be a tough pill to swallow. In fact, many organizations are often surprised by the representation of their employer brand once this endeavor is complete. When you actually see your organizational culture articulated, you may feel vulnerable. But remember, perceived weaknesses or downsides to your authentic culture often have a silver lining that can help employees and candidates relate to you in a more genuine manner. For example, large organizations are often criticized as being too process driven or too bureaucratic. Yet it’s this very characteristic that makes opportunities endless. The ‘bigness’ of an organization will appeal to the right candidate and become a powerful lever to attract talent that matches your company. Further, when presented in an authentic manner, your EVP becomes the most effective tool you have in retaining your talent and ensuring the people who are interested in working at your company are the best possible fit.

Keeping It Real

Remember, you can’t hack an employer brand. Articulating who you are means identifying the rational facts, emotional truths and cultural essence of your organization—and then being willing to accept what you uncover. You’ll likely find on your journey to an authentic organizational culture that your employee engagement, retention and business performance improve along the way. So keep things real and recognize the value in being true to who you are.