Image vs. identity
So. You want to work on your employer brand. Great! The first step is to get a good grip on your employer image and your employer identity. But what’s the difference between the two?
- An employer’s image is the perception of the organisation that exists amongst both insiders and outsiders. It is an image that is made up of feelings, impressions and opinions about who you are as an employer.
- An employer identity is who you really are as an organisation. It includes, amongst others, the financial policy, the corporate culture, the vision on talent and training, …
By its very nature, an image is subject to change: because feelings, impressions and opinions are easily influenced. The identity of your organisation, on the other hand, should be reasonably solid (stable?). It may occasionally be altered, but the foundation should always remain the same.
If you want to attract and retain the right employees, it is therefore important that your image and your identity are aligned as closely as possible.
Instrumental and symbolic characteristics
You can compare working on your employer brand with working on your marketing: instead of looking for customers for your product, you start looking for staff for your organisation. In the case of employer branding, you view your vacancy as a product – and the applicants as your target audience.
In marketing, we have known for some time that people associate both physical (instrumental) and psychological (symbolic) characteristics with a brand:
When buying a computer, for example, you look at the storage capacity, the graphics card or the design (instrumental), but also at the reputation of the brand, its reliability, whether it is innovative or perhaps just very low-cost (symbolic).
If you follow this way of thinking to recruitment, the instrumental characteristics of a job include the salary, the work atmosphere, work pressure, flexibility, fringe benefits such as meal vouchers, hospitalization insurance or bicycle leasing, and so on.
Symbolic characteristics of an employer or a job are more about the ‘personality’ that candidates give to a brand and/or a job. Innovation, reliability, ethics or ambition are some examples.
Once you have determined your unique employer positioning, it is time to start implementing various initiatives to align your instrumental and symbolic attributes.
Employer value proposition
The Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) is the image or positioning you strive for as an employer. It is the promise you make to all your current and future employees: ‘This is who I am as an employer, this is what we stand for and how we stand out.’
Your EVP is a combination of instrumental and symbolic features, expressed in words, images or stories that you would like to associate your brand with. A good EVP should therefore not necessarily lead to a greater inflow of candidates, but rather to a more qualitative one: after all, you want candidates who fit your organisation and who recognise themselves in your vision.
It is important that your EVP is authentic and distinctive. Don’t just keep saying the same things that everyone else is saying, but look for what distinguishes you from other employers.
How do you link your EVP back to the instrumental characteristics?
Depending on how your EVP is formulated, you can take actions from there on out to further evolve towards your desired image. For example, if you want to shape your commitment around a good work-life balance, mental health and social responsibility, you could add o2o bicycle leasing as an extra-legal benefit in the salary package.
By doing so, you encourage people to choose the bicycle to commute to work (mental health and social responsibility) and you attract people who do not want to spend too much time commuting and therefore live close to the office (work/life balance).
Want to know more about bicycle leasing?
You can! We would like to help you become an employer-of-choice who pampers all its employees with a number of nice perks. Contact us – and we’ll look at how we can integrate bicycle leasing in your organisation!