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Here’s why SMEs need to improve their employer branding

To compete, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need the right people with the right skills, but they are often faced with labor shortages and skills gap. SMEs also have limited resources, making it challenging to compete for talent with larger corporations. According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, labor shortage is a critical competitive challenge for more than 40% of Canadian SMEs¹. In this context, developing a strong employer brand is a good way for an SME to differentiate itself in the labor market.

What is employer branding?

Like a corporate brand, an employer brand, describes the employer’s reputation in the market as a place to work for both potential job seekers and internal employees. It also describes the benefits the employees receive in exchange for their experience, talents, contacts, or skills that they bring to the company.

What are the benefits of a strong employer brand?

Having a strong employer brand makes it easier for companies to attract the right talent. According to the Employer Brand Statistics Report from LinkedIn:

“A company with a great employer brand can generate up to twice as many qualified applicants and the cost of hiring can decrease of up to 50%”².

A clear employer brand helps create a positive reputation in the marketplace and can help organizations attract people that fit with the company’s culture.

A strong employer brand can also increase retention and productivity, as employees feel more motivated and have a greater understanding of how the firm values their work. According to a report by LinkedIn, firms with a great employer branding can potentially lower their turnover rate by 28%².

Where to start with your employer branding?

Here are four key elements to include in your employer branding strategy.

Key Elements of Employer Branding

Case Studies

1. Develop a well-crafted employer value proposition:

An employer value proposition defines what the organization would most like to be associated with as an employer. It highlights the attributes that differentiate the organization from other employers and clarifies the strengths, benefits and opportunities of the employment offer. The employer value proposition should serve as a guideline for all activities related to employer branding.

With its employer value proposition “Let’s grow together”, HubSpot highlights its culture of flexibility, empowerment, and learning & development.

2. Elaborate a relevant marketing strategy:

Visibility is important to successful employer branding. Having a career page on your website that highlights the benefits and attributes of your organization can encourage potential candidates to apply for job opportunities. Presence on social media can also be beneficial.

Cisco is well known for its employer branding. Their social media initiatives have been successful because they share authentic, everyday content from employees to give a sense of their culture to external stakeholders. The career page is also filled with relevant information about Cisco’s attributes & culture and information about the recruitment process.

3. Improve the recruitment process:

Having a quick and effective hiring process can increase the success rate of the hiring process. Whether it’s the application process, the communication with the candidate or the interview itself, making sure that the candidate has a positive experience is important to support your employer branding.

Airbnb is well known for its great candidate experience. The company has launched numerous initiatives to improve the recruitment process such as sending rejection messages and inviting candidates to a feedback call if needed.

4. Leverage current employees:

Employees are well placed to share what it’s like to work for your firm. Conducting employee interview and testimonials are a good way to create content to inform future applicants.

Starbucks cultivates a strong community among their employees. Through their social media page, Starbucks shares testimonials from employees. The company also has a referral program, which is a good way to incentivize employees to promote Starbuck’s culture.

In conclusion, as labor shortage becomes more and more of a challenge, employer branding is increasingly seen as a strategic priority for CEOs and executives. Developing a strong employer brand takes time and effort, but will really help your organization attract key talent and to build a sustainable competitive advantage.



3. Harvard Business Review. June 2019. Why We Need to Rethink “Employer Brand”


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