The internet is a powerful force in the modern world. It has the ability to both strengthen reputations and, perhaps more often, destroy them. Businesses looking for new staff should take note – when it comes to an employer brand (EB), its effects can be especially influential.
What is an employer brand?
The employer brand is determined in large part by the reputation as an employer the organisation cultivates and maintains.
In their influential 1996 paper, Tim Ambler and Simon Barrow* defined an employer brand as “the package of functional, economic and psychological benefits provided by employment, and identified with the employing company”. This concept draws a relationship between the employee and the employer in a manner more commonly found between company and customer. So while the employer brand is not the same as the brand that a company presents to its customers, the relational nature between the respective parties is the same.
Ambler and Barrow argue that, just as customers’ attitudes, awareness of and behaviours towards a product brand constitute that brand’s equity, the employer’s reputation is the source of equity for its employer brand. The value of the EB is determined in large part by the reputation as an employer an organisation cultivates and maintains.
How can Glassdoor help you understand how you’re perceived?
Glassdoor is a extremely useful resource for companies to learn how they’re perceived by their employees. In the discussion of EB, it’s a tool for understanding how valuable yours really is. Whereas most online reviews will be from consumers rating your product or service, Glassdoor offers to prospective employees a review of the service that is your company as an employer.
You may find anonymous feedback in online reviews is more honest than that you collect from current employees.
While this is helpful for those considering applying to work for your organisation, it’s also useful for your organisation to improve on its internal processes and working environments. It’s often the case that a current employee will not offer their unvarnished opinion for fear of the consequences – anonymous reviews from ex-employees gets you around this problem.
What can you do to improve your employer brand?
The first thing an organisation should do when confronting a negative review is to look in the mirror and ask if the criticism is valid. The best way to manage a negative employer brand is not to manage it at all, but to improve it by being a better employer. Not only will you make your current employees happier, you’ll also attract better ones in the future.
However, sometimes a negative reputation is unearned, the result of unfortunate circumstances, an individual’s behaviour or the state of a company in the past. Companies can change, but sometimes not quickly enough to outrun the shadows of their past. Thankfully, Glassdoor also has the option for you to reply to individual reviews – if something’s improved, you can point this out.
Are you an employer looking for fresh talent? Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.
* Ambler, T., & Barrow, S. (1996). The employer brand. Journal of Brand Management, 4(3), 185-206.