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New hire remorse? High turnover? Job ad not working? Maybe you need to try...


©Somewhere Else
If you’re looking to hire new team members, how do you attract top-quality talent? More importantly, how can you retain them?

Hiring and inspiring employees can be a daunting task. However, we can use what we’ve learnt about branding so far to help. As you structure your brand to connect with customers, also think about how you’re structuring your business to connect with current and potential employees. What do they say about you as an employer? What kind of reputation does your brand have, as a place to work? Ultimately, what kind of value do you offer your employees?

Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies To Work For”, Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work”, The Straits Times’ “Singapore’s Best Employers” all say one thing: employees aren’t just looking for a paycheck. Even in tough times like these, talented people will leave jobs that don’t fulfill other requirements.

What is Employer Branding?
Employer Branding is a deliberate, structured effort to create a workplace that attracts skilled individuals, who are aligned with your specific mission. It reduces turnover by inspiring loyalty. It increases productivity by motivating self-directed employees. It boosts your brand’s overall stock by being known as a company that not only treats customers right, you treat your own people right too!

Employer Branding strategies aren’t just for big companies like Google. It’s not about having a nice employee lounge, expensive company dinners, or paid yoga classes (although these are nice, too). Surveys show that employees place greater importance on making a difference at their workplace, feeling respected and valued as human beings, and fulfilled in their careers. These are all things that even the smallest startup can offer.

1) Employer Value Proposition
“Why do you want to work here?”...is a common hiring interview question. But before setting up your interviews, ask yourself “Why should the right person want to work for us?”

Employers want employees to invest their time and energy into the business, but rarely give them a reason to do so. Why should any employee choose you over your competitors?

Your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is the specific, authentic benefit that employees gain by working for you. And no, we’re not talking about a paycheck. Businesses tend to assume that anyone should be grateful to be hired, and that as an employer, you have the upper hand in selecting the best person to complete your tasks. But if you want to build a team that’s more than the sum of its parts? You’ll have to give them something worth working for.

Tips for identifying your Employer Value Proposition:
1-1)   An Authentic Mission?
People generally feel more satisfied when they work on something they believe in, no matter how big or small. Does your business bring fresh produce to underserved communities? Or are you producing custom jewellery for upper-crust elites? A mission is your authentic reason for existing--being brutally honest about it will attract the kind of people who feel as passionate about it as you do. Do your daily operations reflect your brand values? For example, if your brand champions sustainable products yet doesn’t have a recycling bin, you can’t really hope to attract talented individuals in the sustainability space. Practice what you preach, and like-minded individuals will join your cause.

1-2)  A Worthy Reward
Compensation isn’t just big bonuses and fancy treats. Competitive pay should be a given, but what other perks could be mutually beneficial to the business and its employees? Upskilling, physical activities and mental health programs are only a few of many examples that build a happier and more productive team of human beings. Transport allowance (if you’re inconveniently located), clothing/grooming allowance (if you require your team to look a certain way), or even a morale-boosting delivery of donuts once a week can immediately distinguish you from your competition.

1-3)   The Rub
Let’s face it, most prospective hires consider each role a stepping stone to a better opportunity. Some steps launch you higher than others, and this plays a part in choosing one employer over another. For better or worse, every business has a reputation that affects its employees. If your company’s on the rise, your team benefits from being associated with you. If you’re known for producing a certain quality of work, that reputation is also transferred to your team. Your brand’s reputation could help or hinder their next career step--that’s “the rub”. What does your team gain from being associated with you?

2) Workplace Culture
“What’s it like working here?” The culture of a workplace plays a huge role in what kind of people you attract and keep. Management styles, communication styles, and the prevailing philosophies, political beliefs, and lifestyles of your team all play a part in building workplace culture. It’s an organic element that shifts with every new hire and fire, especially for smaller workplaces.
Tips for shaping workplace culture
2-1)   Employment Policies
Transparency, transparency, transparency. No matter what your policies are, be upfront about them, even if it means painting a bleak picture. That said, if you’re thinking of implementing some policies to improve your employees’ experience, here are some things you may consider.
  • Hiring policies: Besides skill requirements, what criteria do you base hiring decisions on? Do you actively hire for diversity of culture and viewpoints? Or do you aim for homogeneity?

  • Work-life balance: Every employer claims to offer it, but balance can mean different things to each individual. What does balance look like at your company? If an employee has a different requirement, is there room for compromise?

  • Employee protections: How do you handle workplace issues such as harrassment, bullying, and overwork?

2-2)  Communication styles
Everyone has a preferred way of communication. Some like to be direct in both giving and receiving instructions, while others need lots of encouragement. Some people convey emotions with nonverbal cues, while others can’t pick up on it at all. Examining how your workplace communicates goes a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings, and lets you know if you’ll be a good match with potential hires.

2-2)   Lifestyle alignment
We spend most of our time at work, yet we’re expected to “leave our personal lives out of it”. That’s great if you’re expecting your employee to only be half a person, doing half a person’s worth of work. Getting the best out of people takes engaging with the entire person, weird habits and all. Get to know your current team-- what are their shared interests? A team that can work, laugh, and complain together, synergizes better than a team with only a mailing list in common.

3)Communicating your Employer Branding
If you’ve seen one job ad, you’ve seen them all. Each and every one will comprehensively list what’s expected of the job applicant, with very little information about what’s in it for them. Clearly state your Employer Value Proposition, and let them know why they should apply! It doesn’t have to be grand, just brutally honest--and you’ll attract the right kind of people.

What do talented employees truly care about? The answer will differ based on a variety of factors: the position you’re hiring for, the industry you’re in, the career trajectory you’re a part of, and even your location. It’s up to you to engage with the people you work with (or hope to work with), discover what drives them, and craft an offer they can’t refuse.

Employees today look for more than job stability and career advancement. Their needs have evolved. If your brand promises (and delivers) fulfilling work with people who treat you with respect and support your growth as a person-- who’d say no to that?

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