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Running a business

Employer branding: Why it matters more than ever

Your reputation as an employer is more important than ever, especially in Canada's increasingly tight talent market. The interview process has become a two-way street, as job candidates flock towards companies offering not just salary increases, but also intangible benefits such as work-life balance, flexibility, and training and development opportunities.

While spending resources to showcase the positive attributes of your products or services is essential, communicating your values and company culture is just as important. Taking the time, money, and effort to show why your company is a great place to work can have a direct effect on your bottom line. It can help attract and retain top candidates to work for you, and increase your current employees' motivation and productivity.

Why you need to start now

Your employees' perception of you has a powerful impact on your ability to retain current staff and appeal to future job seekers. A survey by Glassdoor found that 86% of applicants research company reviews and ratings before even deciding to apply for a job.

With one-third of Canadian employees currently looking for a new job, it's fair to say that strengthening your employer's brand can not only help reduce turnover rates, but also bring in applications from more qualified candidates.

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5 factors to consider when developing your employer brand

Here are five factors to consider when developing the road map for your employer's brand as a great place to work.

Determine your audience

Take time to research who your ideal employees are, what motivates them, and how you can meet that criteria. Conduct research into your target candidates and why they might want to work for you. Think about what sets your culture apart and how it aligns with what job seekers are looking for in their professional and personal lives.

“Building your employer brand as a great place to work begins with vision and culture," says Daniel Julien, chief revenue officer at i4C Consulting in Ottawa, who uses QuickBooks to manage his business.

“Your executive team should start with defining a vision (driven by something more than profit) that will guide the path in establishing the culture and hiring the right individuals."

Think outside the box

In addition to salaries and benefits, identify intangible company values you could offer that are often just as important to employees as compensation packages. These could include elements such as a diverse and inclusive workforce, mentorship opportunities, time off to give back to the community and charitable causes, and team-building events. How can you show that you value your staff and make it known that their contributions are an important part of the success of your entire organization?

Julie Labrie suggests making the case for your employer's brand right on the home page of your company website. “Too many companies bury that information in sub-pages under an About section that are hard to navigate for time-starved job seekers," says Labrie, a QuickBooks user and president of Toronto-based recruitment firm BlueSky Personnel Solutions.

“Don't hide it or leave what may feel obvious unsaid. Tell visitors to your site what it's like to work for you upfront, and position these benefits as a clear advantage to choosing you as an employer," she adds. “The same rules can apply to a platform like LinkedIn or other social media accounts."

Showcase employee experiences in authentic ways

For added credibility, harness your employees as potential brand ambassadors. Consider posting video testimonials or candid snapshots on your website and other marketing channels. Tell the stories of staff with interesting careers, and show what a day in their lives on the job might look like. Aim for authenticity and consistency between their messages and the story you're trying to tell.

“Have candidates meet your team, and tell them they can ask any question about what it's like to work for the company," says Labrie. “That kind of transparency builds trust, and in today's competitive marketplace, it can make the difference between a star candidate choosing your company over another lucrative offer."

Leverage the power of social media

Social media platforms can provide valuable insight into public perception of your brand and whether there's room for improvement. They're also a great place to spread the word that you're hiring-about 40% of the Canadian workforce turns to LinkedIn to find jobs.

“LinkedIn is a great place to highlight staff events, big victories, attendance at charity events, and the culture and vision of your company," says Julien.

It's also worth highlighting training and development programs if you offer them, he says, to show the public you invest in your team and in the growth of their careers.

Get help from recruiters and managers to stay on track

Ask for insights from management and recruiters to help identify potential disparities, develop programs to attract the right candidates, and measure the impact of what you're doing. “When we pitch a job candidate for a position with a small business client, we often highlight that working for a small company can give them more flexibility," says Labrie.

“For them, the job title itself is not as important as having the opportunity to be involved in projects from an early stage, where they can contribute meaningfully and in a greater capacity. They like taking on more responsibilities, as that means growth in their own learning."

Good tools free up more time so you can focus on your most valuable business asset: the people who drive it forward. Find out how solutions like QuickBooks Online can help.

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