This post originally appeared on The Namely Blog

We’ve all heard the “employer branding” buzzword. But what does it actually mean?

While a company’s overall brand relates to the way organizations are perceived by the masses, employer brand pertains to the company’s reputation amongst prospective and current talent. Strong branding comes from a variety of factors — top benefits packages, career development opportunities, and even a solid company culture.

Though employer brand used to be more of a secondary recruiting tool, it has grown into a company-wide initiative for scaling businesses. With the right branding, job seekers will recognize and promote the unique value offered by your company.

Still not convinced? When you prioritize employer branding, here are seven benefits you can expect to see:

1. Optimize Talent Acquisition

HR practitioners know that recruiting skilled candidates in small and mid-sized companies is increasingly competitive. With a more optimized talent pool, it becomes much easier to find and hire the right talent. In fact, data shows that a strong employer brand leads to 50 percent more qualified applicants. With more qualified applications, recruiting teams can spend less on external recruiting firms and reduce the company’s cost per hire.

2. Involve the Entire Team

In an ideal world, a company’s brand will empower management and employees alike to act as an owner within the organization. There are myriad ways to get all hands on deck when building out the employer brand. Marketing is an obvious partner for HR, as they can create branded assets that will appeal to potential candidates. Plus, employees from all departments can get involved by sharing testimonials, referring applicants, and planning culture-building activities.

3. Increase Employee Retention

While the primary push for creating a strong employer brand may be for your hiring efforts, it can also have a clear impact on employee retention. Companies who prioritize employer branding typically see a 28 percent increase in retention. This is best achieved by ensuring the employer brand is reflected throughout the full lifecycle of employees. For example, if one of your values is to help develop and grow your employees, make sure they have ample opportunity to advance their skills.

4. Establish a Foundation for Growth

As startups have grown dramatically fast in recent years, it’s clear that rapid growth comes with its fair share of risks around company culture. As an organization doubles and triples in employee headcount, it can be nearly impossible to maintain culture at scale. Prioritizing employer brand early on can help HR teams maintain a great work environment even through high growth periods. Not to mention, when you bring in qualified candidates at scale, you reduce the risk of making mis-hires that result in high turnover.

5. Unite Employee and Employer Interests

Employers ultimately want the business to be successful, and employees want to push their career experience forward. With the right branding, these interests can easily be aligned. Happy and engaged employees drive innovation and productivity, which in turn contributes to the success of the business. Building an employee-centric culture that focuses on making quality hires and developing top talent goes hand in hand with an appealing employer brand.

6. Get People Talking

It may seem obvious, but strong employer branding doesn’t just help attract talent. It can also help you generate new prospects and clients. A well-crafted employer brand leads to a positive reputation among the wider business community. The public will have a better understanding of your company’s mission and values — adding another touch-point for prospective clients.

7. Boost Your Employee Referral Program

Hiring new employees is expensive and timely, so any way to find efficiencies is a worthwhile endeavor. Many companies offer an employee referral program to help generate top candidates. A strong employer brand makes it even easier for employees to convince their networks to apply for open positions.

This list just scratches the surface of reasons your employer brand is important in the year ahead. Ready to dive in? Learn the best practices for recrafting your employer brand, straight from the pros.

Rachel Bolsu is a Content Marketing Specialist at Namely, the all-in-one HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today’s employees.

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