Every Employee Owns the Employer Brand

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Employers are struggling with a constricted talent pool of candidates to fill their vacancies, particularly in respect of hard to fill roles. They are also finding that people have changed the way they look for jobs as, now, good candidates prefer to research a company and establish a relationship over months with a view to applying for a job.

Brett Minchington, in Employer Brand Leadership – A Global Perspective (2010), describes employer brand as “the image of your organization as a ‘great place to work’ in the mind of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers, and other key stakeholders).

We’ve looked at the importance of leadership in employer brand management but in truth, it is employees who make or break your employer brand. The employee experience, the lived actuality of life at the sharp end, on the front line is what really counts. Employer brand management addresses the reality of the employment experience for everyone, not just your star players but all staff at all levels. The team needs to pay attention to and understand the strength, quality and ’health’ of the employer brand in the labor market.

A team game

The CIPD maintains that “A key part of an organization’s culture and values are the ethical standards that the employer upholds through the practice of its employees. Employer brand is therefore influenced by the ethical perspective that prospective and current employees take, as well as through business actions.” This means that organizations need to be aware of both the positive and negative feedback that can be given by past or present employees on social media and elsewhere.

Universum found in 2015 that 60 percent of CEOs claim they own employer branding, while 58 percent of talent executives say they own it. Employer brand is a team responsibility – we have changed how we look for jobs which means that organizations with motivated, engaged and contented people will flourish, while those who fail to appreciate the benefits of openness and transparency are likely to feel the consequences.

If the organization does not present an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to work for the company then the point of any employer branding exercise is moot. The employees’ (and former employees’) views about the organization and top team are key to the employer brand; and negative views can seriously damage the organizational reputation and recruiting efforts. In addition, potential customers are likely to be interested in employer brand, taking a more value-based approach to business is increasingly popular.

The reality of work

The charity Mencap, a runner-up in the 2018 Personnel Today Awards 2018’s Employer Branding category wanted a brand that reflected the reality of working in the support sector: “Competitors’ branding was awash with images of happy service users and messages about ‘changing lives’, but it wanted its message to reflect the ‘warts and all’ reality of the job including challenging and frustrating elements, as well as the rewarding.”

This is not just about recruiting or talent as Julian Placino, Senior Recruiting Lead at Bottle Rocket, told us, he “found out that he wasn’t the only person in the company who was recruiting for the company”; he noticed that employees were busy recruiting their friends to work at Bottle Rocket. That’s a great employer brand.

Julian set about adding to structure for the process and empowering all employees to engage with the process. He says “your people are your best possible brand ambassadors and recruiters for your organization”, it is the job of each individual Rocketeer to draw in new employees which they do by promulgating their own, authentic employment stories.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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