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  • Gemma McGrattan, Synergy Creative

5 Employer branding mistakes to avoid

Everyone's talking about employer branding - but what does it actually mean? And how can you implement it within your business?

The term 'employer branding' encompasses so much more than just recruitment and requires long-term planning, plenty of resource and a communications team who are all on the same page.

Get it right though and the benefits are huge; better-engaged employees results in improved customer experience.

Below are the five mistakes to avoid when thinking about employer brand for your business.

Mistake #1: Thinking employer branding means recruitment

An employer brand is about so much more than attraction and recruitment. It is about offering a consistent experience to your employees on every step of their journey with you.

From initial attraction and interview to onboarding, training, reward and recognition and even exit. An employer brand is the ‘glue’ that holds all of these together. An employer brand is being clear about the deal that you make with your employees – what’s expected from them and what they’ll get in return – and delivering on it every single step of the way.

Mistake #2: Not mapping the employee journey

One of the first stages of creating a strong employer brand is to look at your employee journey – from the moment of attraction to the moment of exit – and map out every single touchpoint along the way. A standard employee journey could be:

  • Attraction

  • Application and joining

  • Onboarding and induction

  • Career progression

  • Reward and recognition

  • Retire or exit

Each of these areas can then be broken down into individual workstreams. Think about the various channels for each touchpoint – ask yourself, what do you have in place already? What are you missing? Are there any that aren’t working? Are your messages consistent? Do your values shine through consistently at each stage?

For example – looking at attraction – you may have:

  • A careers website (or careers section on your corporate website)

  • Owned social channels such as Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/YouTube/Instagram

  • Marketing collateral for recruitment fairs/events (stands, leaflets, posters)

  • Word-of-mouth or referral schemes for employees

All of these channels should be consistent, clear and reflect the true culture and ethos of your company. They should live and breathe your Employer Value Proposition (EVP).

The other area to consider at the attraction stage is third party websites such as Glassdoor and employees’ social media mentions.

Have a clear social media policy in place, monitor regularly – but most importantly – listen to feedback. The comments you hear (both positive and negative) are invaluable to the employer brand that you create.

And that’s just a top line view of one stage of the journey!

Mistake #3: Not being in it for the long haul

As you can tell from above, creating an employer brand is no quick fix. It’s not about creating a nice recruitment campaign with some smiling headshots of your staff. There are detailed workstreams for each touchpoint, all of which will need assessment and investment. Accept that it will probably take a long time to get your employer brand into shape.

Different departments need to be on board and you need your leadership to support too.

Prioritise what you need to do first: Perhaps your employee survey highlights that employees feel undervalued? Focus on reward and recognition. Perhaps you have a high bounce rate on your careers site? Focus on attraction.

The work doesn’t stop then either. It’s an ongoing project to embed your vision, values and behaviours across your company. From one-off creative campaigns to ongoing training of your managers, it’s about creating a culture that attracts and retains the people that you want in your business.

Mistake #4: Failing to recognise employer branding as a business function

A new whitepaper 'Finders Keepers: Find and Keep the Best People With Your Employer Brand' features interviews with 20 HR and internal communications professionals from companies including LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Aviva, Nationwide, Morrisons and ODEON & UCI Cinemas. This research has highlighted an ongoing disagreement between departments such as HR, internal communications, PR and corporate communications about who should own employer brand. Some companies are now recruiting employer brand managers while in others, HR leads strategy and IC leads creative and deployment.

Whatever structure you decide, ensure the following:

  • That you all understand what employer branding means for your company, and how it will be introduced and managed

  • That you focus on skillsets not hierarchy or internal politics. Choose the structure that plays most to your peoples’ and departments’ strengths

Mistake #5: Failing to listen

Before you embark on your employer brand journey speak to your employees, find out what made them join in the first place, what makes them stay, what make them leave. Research, listen, test and measure every single step of the way.

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