Employer branding for SMEs without breaking the bank

Employer branding. What is it? Isn’t that something only large corporates need to concern themselves with? 

Well, no actually. Every business – large or small – has an employer brand whether they decide to own it or not. And if harnessed correctly, it can make a real difference to attracting the best talent, candidate experience and employee retention.

Who can afford to not take that seriously? 

Colleagues writing on a glass white board

What is employer branding and why is it important?

Employer branding refers to the process of creating and promoting a positive and attractive culture of an organisation as an employer and includes the reputation and perception that a company has among current and potential employees.   

It’s important because every business has a reputation – it’s human nature for people to form an opinion of the place they work or are considering working. By shaping and cultivating your employer brand, you not only allow the things you already do really well as a business to shine, but you can use these as incentives to attract the right people into your business. 

In terms of attracting new employees, a strong employer brand is a good way to boost your recruitment strategy if you have limited resources. By highlighting your unique culture, values and growth opportunities, you create a very appealing proposition for external and internal talent. If you offer flexible and hybrid working options as standard, tell people. If you offer employees days off per year to carry out volunteer or charity work, tell people. If you allow people to tailor their own personal development plans, you guessed it…! 

These practices that you may see as commonplace could make the competitive difference between you and your larger competitors, and help you bring the best skills into your business. 

Top tips to enhance your employer brand

Be authentic

It’s really important to create an employer brand that reflects the culture of your business. Be honest about the working environment within your organisation to ensure you attract people that this appeals to. It’s very easy for a misaligned employer brand to get ‘found out’ and this could lead to bad feeling and resentment with new and existing employees alike. 

Build your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Your employee value proposition is a set of offerings provided by the employer in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the company. Think about what makes your company different from others – for example, your commitment to work-life balance or career development opportunities – and compile this into a clear list that’s used on your website and in job descriptions. Once you can articulate this easily, it becomes a lot clearer to identify the behaviours and values of the employees who will flourish in your work environment. 

Collegues in a stockroom checking stock

Use small to your advantage

Small can be mighty! There are lots of individuals who would prefer a smaller, more intimate business as opposed to a large corporate organisation, where you can feel like a cog in a huge wheel. SMEs can leverage a tight-knit culture as a key selling point in attracting and retaining talent, as well as the opportunity to have a big impact in a smaller setting.  

Make use of social media

Social media is a cost-effective channel to bring your employee culture to life! Showcase your business and social events to provide engaging and lively content. Use video to give a voice to the people who make your business what it is, and to give prospective employees a real flavour of the organisation you are creating. These informal testimonials and advocacy from your staff can be a powerful recruitment tool. 

Employer branding is so much more than a ‘nice to have’ – it extends across the whole employee lifecycle, from recruitment through onboarding and development to retention. In our experience, strong employer brands lead to happy, fulfilled and productive employees.  

Managing and enhancing the company’s reputation as an employer, both internally and externally, also leads to more positive brand awareness and recognition in the wider marketplace. We would advise all business leaders to start looking at how they can support employer branding initiatives in the workplace and involve your most valuable asset – your people! 

It really can make a big difference to the future of your business. For more advice on how to approach employer branding within your SME, reach out to us here at Grace.