Is Your Poor Employer Branding the Result of a Bad Workplace or Bad PR?

What measures do you use to understand your company’s reputation?

Let’s say you’re using reputational surveys. With the poll results, you can break down public views of your company into various dimensions (e.g., leadership, products and services, vision, culture, etc.) to evaluate your standing.

But how do you know if public perceptions of your company accurately reflect the quality of each dimension, or if they’re the result of inadequate PR?

Take Facebook.

Facebook’s reputation has, without a doubt, suffered over the past few years. According to Axios, the steady decline in the company’s favorability ratings all started when news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018. Since then, it has been faced with regular negative media attention, from concerns over data protection to claims that the company is aware that its social media service, Instagram, is harmful to teens’ mental health.

Facebook’s deterioration in the public eye has been largely attributable to operational issues and internal information exposed in ongoing legal battles and by whistleblowers.

But what about the company’s reputation as an employer? Consumers have poor views of Facebook as a place to work, but how accurate are public perceptions of the company’s employee experience?

At PublicRelay, we wanted to better understand how well public impressions of a company’s workplace align with how its employees feel. Using data from our employee experience solution, Barometer, and market research firm, Harris Poll, we examined the internal and external perspectives of companies’ workplaces to see what we could learn about employer branding.

What is Employer Branding?

Employer branding is a company’s reputation as a place to work. This differs from the company’s overall reputation which includes its value proposition to customers and instead refers to its value proposition to its employees. Both, however, can be managed with effective public relations.

Though it is most often considered in terms of recruitment and talent acquisition, employer branding is also a facet of companies’ public reputation and plays a role in its overall business success.

Why is Employer Branding Important?

Employer branding is important because perceptions of employee experience can influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. In other words, millennials and Gen Z are socially conscious consumers, meaning they consider a company’s practices – including how it treats its employees – when deciding whether to become a customer.

Evaluating Employer Branding

We analyzed companies’ reputations by comparing two data sources using cross dataset analysis: average employee review star ratings and 2021 Axios Harris Poll 100 reputational survey results.

Harris Poll measures corporate reputation across seven dimensions: Products, Growth, Vision, Trust, Culture, Ethics, and Citizenship. In this instance, “Culture” is defined as public perceptions of or a company’s reputation as being a “good company to work for.”

Facebook’s Employer Branding Disconnect

Generally, there was a positive correlation between a company’s average employee star ratings and its Harris Poll reputation score. In other words, companies with positive reputations overall also had high employee star ratings. And vice versa.

But Facebook is an interesting outlier.

Facebook ranked #98 out of 100 companies overall – with a reputation categorized by Harris Poll as “critical” in its condition. This may come as no surprise.

And, though Facebook is rated number 96 on culture – among the bottom ten “Worst Performing Companies by Reputation Dimension” – the company has an average employee review star rating of 4.16 out of 5 stars, ranking number six out of 48 companies evaluated.

The Role of PR in Employer Branding

This finding represents a gap between actual experiences of Facebook as an employer and public perceptions of Facebook as a company to work for.

Its employer branding disconnect indicates that Facebook doesn’t just have an HR or an employee experience problem, but a PR problem when it comes to its employer reputation.

So, what does this mean for PR teams?

How PR Can Improve Your Employer Branding Strategy

Effective public relations can make the difference between good and bad employer branding.

Here are a few ways you can improve your employer branding strategy that will impact public perceptions of your company as a place to work:

Mobilize Your Employee Brand Ambassadors

Consumers view employees as one of the most credible sources of information on a company. Engaging your employees to become brand ambassadors and promote your company is crucial to improving your employer branding. Hearing from employees who are willing to advocate on behalf of a brand can counter any negative perceptions consumers may have formed about the company as a workplace.

You can start by recruiting employee volunteers who are enthusiastic about working for your company. It’s essential that your brand ambassadors voluntarily endorse your company to ensure authenticity. Not only that, but consumers will also be more likely to trust employee praise if it feels authentic.

In addition, be sure to make it simple. Circulate company news internally and promote positive stories and employee recognition with links that allow employees to easily share it with their networks.

Analyze and Respond to Employee Reviews

Employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed provide a wealth of information that can support your employer branding strategy.

Your team can analyze your employee reviews to pinpoint your company’s strengths and weaknesses as a workplace and build messaging campaigns from those insights.

Negative employee reviews present an opportunity, too. According to Glassdoor, “7 out of 10 people surveyed indicated they had changed their opinion about a brand after seeing the company reply to a review.” Graciously responding to bad employee reviews and indicating that the company plans to take the criticism on board can actually improve your reputation.

Build a Workplace-Focused Media Campaign

Perhaps your media campaigns have focused on your leadership team or financial results – all important factors to your stakeholders.

But don’t forget to promote your company as a workplace as an essential part of your PR strategy.

Start by asking: what is your value proposition to your employees? And do your employee reviews corroborate it?

From there, build a workplace-focused media campaign that promotes your desired employer branding and highlights your strengths as an employer.

Not only will generating earned media coverage dramatically extend the reach of your workplace campaigns, but it will also improve awareness of your employer brand. Further, partnering with key industry influencers will add credibility to your workplace messaging.

Track Your Reputational Drivers

Start measuring your company’s earned media coverage according to reputational drivers to track how your employer branding is represented publicly. Remember, your employee experience can be exceptional, but if the public isn’t aware of it, then your employer branding may suffer.

By tracking reputational drivers, you can distill your workplace mentions from coverage of other dimensions of your reputation to assess your employer branding. You can also gain a more nuanced understanding of your branding because your coverage is broken down by subcategories, such as compensation, advancement opportunities, workplace safety, etc.

Let’s say analysis of your employee reviews indicate that workers value the advancement opportunities offered by your company. But, upon analyzing your earned media, you learn that coverage of your employer brand focuses on compensation and is neutral in tone. With this insight, you can launch a campaign highlighting your company’s advancement opportunities and employees who have scaled the ranks internally. Then, encourage your employee brand ambassadors to share their stories of advancement and growth within your company.

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your PR

To truly take control of your company’s reputation, you must first understand it. Facebook’s employer branding disconnect reveals the limitations to measuring your brand with reputational surveys alone.

By analyzing multiple data sources, you can deepen your understanding of your brand reputation and determine whether public perceptions of your company are the result of business operations or ineffective PR.

At PublicRelay, our human-augmented AI approach to media analytics enables you to track the topics, concepts, and ideas that shape your reputation. When analyzed against additional data evaluating your reputation, this 360-degree view of your brand will allow you to develop highly refined and impactful campaigns.

Uncover the insights from your employee reviews and start measuring the earned media coverage shaping your brand today!

ARTICLE AUTHOR
Cayla Williams

Cayla Williams

Content Strategist
Find me on LinkedIn