Marketing 2020s: The decade when employer brands become truly authentic

I've seen employer branding grow in significance during my 18 years in employer, education and consumer marketing agencies. It really does feel like it's became mainstream in the 2010s: More people with employer brand in their job title, more agencies offering it as a service and events like the World Employer Branding Day becoming established our diaries.

So if the 2010s were about employer branding establishing itself, what of employer branding in the 2020s?

It will be far less of the why and more of the how. And it will be about ensuring authenticity over everything else.

What is authenticity?

In employer branding it's, well, the employer brand. When an employer brand is ultimately the employee experience, you can't be anything but authentic. It already exists, it's just down to employer branding specialists to bottle it and market it in the right way. It's about using as many employees as is humanly possible, however hard it may be. It's about making future candidates feel in sync with the organisation before they've even applied. And putting the wrong people off the organisation.

What isn't authenticity?

Unrealistic cookie cutter tag lines and headlines. Betting all of your time and budget on what I like to call "Lights, Camera, Action" Content: cue the stock photography style poses and the "no day is the same" employee profiles.

Why is authenticity so important for an employer brand?

If you're not authentic it will hurt your talent attraction and, ultimately, the bottom line.

According to Edelman Trust Barometer, 67% of people would refuse to work for, or expect higher pay from, an organization that did not share their values.

Gallup's State of the Global Workforce report found that 85% of employees aren't engaged or actively disengaged. They also did the maths and found this resulted in $7 trillion in lost productivity.

A study by Oxford Economics and Unum calculated that it costs £30,614 to replace a place an employee. Big numbers!

So, being authentic will have a big impact on the success of your business.

How do you ensure an employer brand is truly authentic?

Edelman's Trust report found 71% of people say employees are more believable spokespeople for a company than CEOs. So involve as many as possible in the research phase rather than relying on a small sample. But in particular, snuffle out those stories too; don't let them die in a massive research document.

Make sure they are a big part of your content rather than just your advertising messages. How? Use your employees far more often. Document their powerful stories that prove your employer brand pillars are living and breathing. This goes far beyond employees saying what it's like working in a company. It's about telling stories that people can relate too. It's about creating content like a journalist would.

I see the 2020s being about employer brands embracing the journalistic urge to uncover those stories.

What will this look like? Employee Generated Video, documentary-style video, podcasts, fireside chats, topical panel discussions and well-written articles. All to uncover the why as much as the what of working.

What do you think about how employer brands should behave in the new decade?__________________________________________________________________________If you want to talk about how social media and content marketing can keep your employer brand relevant and meaningful then get in touch. As a freelance consultant with nearly 20 years experience in the agency world I'm well placed to help.

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