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Many companies emphasize that their employees are their most valuable asset. However, the latter usually feel very little of it. We often hear from candidates that their boss had neither asked whether their holidays had been nice, nor had he inquired about their state of health if they had been absent due to illness. Too rarely do employees experience such beautiful gestures as I do when, on my first day at work, a bunch of flowers awaited me on my desk to greet me. Or that our boss brings a small gift from the holidays to all employees. It’s, however, such kind of attention that promotes team spirit and makes teamwork human.

Employer branding as the key to recruiting success

Company owners and personnel managers would do well to consider steps to be taken to present themselves as attractive employers who are perceived by the market as likeable and appreciative. Employer branding (i.e. the employer brand) plays an important role in attracting future employees to your company. Its most important goal – especially in industries that have partly dried up – is to attract qualified, committed and motivated team members who can be tied to the company in the long term through a high level of identification and emotional relationship. You may also have noticed that candidates want to be courted much more today than in the past. In this respect, a rethinking of the relationship between the company and the applicant is required. This is where the so-called Candidate Experience or Journey comes in, which in a positive sense ensures that candidates experience their application process as a pleasant experience. Make it as easy as possible for applicants to upload their documents to your website, preferably via a web form. Did you know that 70% of those interested click away if the application process takes longer than two minutes? It’s also a good idea to be a personal and tangible employer, for example by providing the name and direct telephone number of the HR person responsible. This allows applicants to clarify questions before or during the submission of their dossier.

In this context, it is useful to consider the use of chatbots, which are computer programs that can be used to answer queries automatically and without direct human intervention. They are a good option to answer standard questions from candidates around the clock – this significantly improves the Candidate Experience and is still cost-effective.

You will also contribute to a pleasant Candidate Experience if you consider the following points in addition to an attractive advertisement: Communicate at eye level with the applicants, be honest and transparent and ensure a quick reaction and a regular exchange.

See employees as customers

The resources for the best employer branding come from your own employees. In my opinion, they should increasingly be treated as internal customers, who want to be cared for as much as the external clientele. It should not be underestimated how much influence a committed team has on the company’s success – enthusiastic employees also inspire customers. Because they are faster, friendlier and more positive and can therefore build better relationships with their customers. Employees thus act as valuable multipliers.

But how do your employees become fans and brand ambassadors of their employer? ALDI Süd is a progressive company in this respect – it shows, on posters, employees who talk positively about their

meaningful work, with statements such as “I get up every morning for this …” or “No way is too far for that …”. Such successful employer branding appeals to applicants and can be used as a bearer of corporate values such as meaningful work – which is extremely important to generations Y and Z, for example. This also includes corporate values such as a good working atmosphere, a strong sense of cohesion (a lack of team spirit is one of the main reasons for leaving a company), further education opportunities or selected benefits. If these messages are placed on the company’s website in the form of videos, they will appear attractive and authentic; they will trigger emotions. The Rotkreuz-Kliniken in Frankfurt, for example, draw attention to modern employment conditions with flexible working hours by using the slogan “We must not lose any time – certainly not yours”.

Creativity and courage are called for when it comes to marketing the employer: one American company greeted the 100th employee with a surprise, another put the farewell party of a retiring colleague on the Internet, etc. By the way, the above-mentioned discounter continued to score with a sensational campaign called “Blackbox”, which actively campaigned against discrimination based on external appearance: The company carried out anonymously and incognito a “blind recruiting”, in which applicants and personnel met in absolute darkness. This procedure was intended to make a conscious difference to conventional application procedures and counteract prejudices.

Companies that have difficulty reaching their employees online (e.g. in the catering or handicraft industry) sometimes come up with very creative steps for employer branding. In Germany, for example, a truck carrying the company’s logo drove from construction site to construction site to distribute hamburgers to the craftsmen.

Employee evaluations – rightly feared?

Many companies fear for their reputation when employees give feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their employers on evaluation platforms such as kununu or Glassdoor. In my opinion these should be seen confidently as an opportunity to promote dialogue with one’s employees. If companies try to treat their employees with respect, they need not be afraid of being publicly evaluated; negative comments will be limited – and can even be picked up with open communication and often placed in a meaningful context.

Show more on your website than just job ads – demonstrate what makes your corporate culture unique. Create an attractive entrepreneur profile on social media such as XING and LinkedIn and post articles about successful projects or even funny actions (e.g. when employees bring their dogs to work). Such content helps to reach passive candidates.

The results of a successful employer branding are thus summarized: Inspirations for recruiting, loyal employees who stay healthy and lower fluctuation. Savings in resources are another positive consequence, as it has been proven that recruitments based on employee recommendations are up to ten times more cost-effective than traditional tenders.

Solutions and strategies for successful employer branding must be tailored to your company’s philosophy and communication style. Of course, the target group must also be taken into account. And if you are afraid of deterring candidates by taking a look behind the scenes of your company (e.g. through short interviews with the team): this is also valuable, because you want to attract people who fit into your company culture. Those who can credibly communicate their culture and philosophy to the outside world take a stand and distinguish themselves from the competition.