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Truth, Perception and Authenticity

What really is an employer brand? 

When we think about employer brand, we are thinking about the reputation a company has as an employer in the talent marketplace. It’s what people think of the company from a career perspective and what they say when discussing the company as a place to work.

An employer brand is dynamic and changing and can change quickly depending on activities that happen in the company (think acquisitions, think layoffs), and yet can also go through long periods of stability too. But over time it is something that never rests.

An employer brand also manifests itself in different ways depending on the context. For example it will be different internally and externally, and also have a different flavour in different geographic areas. It will likely also be different between people who work in offices and people work in factories, for example. Sometimes it can be different simply because different managers treat people differently in different locations.

The reality of working at your company is more complicated and more nuanced than any single opinion. 

The perception of a company is the opinion someone has formed based on the information they have to hand. The truth is the everyday lived reality of people working in the organisation and what they actually experience. As you will already understand from your own experience of joining a company, what people think about the company is only a fraction of the reality to be discovered behind the scenes one you have joined. People will think what they want to think about you based on what they have heard and perhaps personally experienced. 

The fact that your employer brand is a perception that cannot be directly controlled is an important realisation for your employer branding work. Recognising that a perception cannot be directly changed by any of your actions is transformational in the way you approach your work. 

Employer Brand is the perception people have about your company as an employer.

Employer Value Proposition is the articulation of the truth about what it is like to work at the company.

Now there is no company on the planet that is perfect in every way, so when you think about the truth you need to be authentic in how you portray it for two reasons: 

  1. When someone joins the company they should not be surprised at what they find. If the reality of what they experience is vastly different from what they were sold at the outset, they will not last long at the company.
  2. You want people to join the company and succeed and the people most likely to succeed are the ones that are equipped to thrive in your cultural environment. They will be able to propel their careers forward because of the good things you have to offer and because they are resilient to the bad things.

We will cover more of this in a future post, but to clarify these thoughts here is a fictitious example.

Imagine a company with an inspiring leader, an exciting suite of products, and yet with weak management and a propensity for changing direction very rapidly with no warning.

To succeed in such a company you will of course need to be excited about the products, be capable in performing the job at hand, but also be someone who can get work done independently of leadership, be comfortable with uncertainty and resilient to rapid changes.

When you portray your own company you need to do so in an authentic way which attracts people who are likely to succeed and discourages those who are not.

Another way of looking at the tension between Employer Brand and Employer Value Proposition is as yin (Employer Brand as the passive, receptive aspect) and yang (EVP, the active aspect). 

Both are always intertwined and continually exert a force on each other. You can change your EVP to influence your Employer Brand, and the Employer Brand influences how you portray your EVP.