As the race to attract talent remains increasingly competitive for companies, establishing and promoting a strong employer brand that allows your workforce to connect over a common, driving purpose can help set your organization apart. Research supports the notion that a poorly defined brand is not only a hindrance to how your organization is perceived internally and externally, but it also spells significant losses as higher rates of turnover and a lack of interest from job-seekers makes it exceedingly difficult to fill open roles.

Building a strong employer brand can be accomplished by bridging it with your organization’s mission and integrating it into every facet of the employee experience, which will establish continuity across the organization, retain your current employee base, and draw in talent that shares your organization’s same values.

Creating Cohesion Between Employer Brand and Mission

An employer brand is not a separate concept from a company’s mission, they are intertwined. The employee value proposition should be in alignment with the mission, and the mission should be deeply embedded in the employee value proposition – cascading down to all employee-driven initiatives and programs.

Having an employer brand grounded in mission allows you to create a holistic and cohesive understanding of who your organization is as an employer and what it stands for. If the relationship between the two is not clearly defined, then the work your organization does is disconnected from your workforce – potentially leading to higher turnover rates and diminished capability to attract the right talent.

Before building an employer brand, organizations should create a clear roadmap that integrates your company’s mission and authentically reflects your guiding principles as an employer. Underpinning this roadmap should be engaging employees as part of the brand-building process. This helps create team buy-in from the beginning and helps ensure that you accurately understand how your teams view your organization as an employer.

As an example, at DeVry, we used a bottom-up approach to our employer brand by engaging team members from across departments to pinpoint areas where we could further refine our employee value proposition. As a result, we learned there were opportunities to better connect colleagues to our mission and we have been integrating our employee value proposition through every aspect of the employee experience.

Using Employer Brand as a Tool for Acquisition

While having a strong employer brand is important to retain employees, it is an equally important tool in the talent acquisition process.

Nearly 80% of employees are increasingly seeking out work at organizations that share similar values and beliefs. Talent is now weighing those factors as heavily, if not more heavily, than salary and traditional benefits. A strong employer brand can help make your organization’s values transparent from the beginning of the acquisition process, which allows you to hire employees who are a strong culture fit and who will drive your mission forward.

Furthermore, in an era where real-time feedback can be provided on platforms like Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn, a strong employer brand that represents the mission and values of your workforce makes it easier to be in the driver’s seat of your narrative. At DeVry, for example, we are intentional about communicating our mission of closing the opportunity gap with prospective talent and how it acts as the focal point for our work at every level of the organization – helping us attract new employees that are passionate about our work.

In conclusion, if your employee value proposition is not grounded in your mission and communicated frequently across your organization, there will be a disconnect between what your mission sets out to do and what your employees feel empowered to do.

Dave Barnett

David Barnett is the Chief Human Resources and University Relations Officer at DeVry University, responsible for identifying, attracting and engaging key talent with a focus on driving exceptional student outcomes. He also oversees the communications architecture designed to inform and build a culture of care with colleagues, students and alumni, and foster goodwill with the community and other stakeholders. With more than 20 years of experience, Barnett has worked with numerous universities to help drive large-scale change during times of high growth and turnaround, including large land-grant institutions and proprietary education providers.