Telling Employer Branding Stories the Right Way

When it comes to employer branding, there are countless formats to create from, platforms to present in, and stories to tell. With all the options you have when developing an employer brand, it‚Äôs important to remain focused and bring the brand to life in an authentic way that tells the real stories of your employees‚Äîin other words, tell the stories the right way.

As much as the stories are about your employees, you are the ultimate storyteller; their storytelling simply boosts the overall one you want to portray, i.e. your employer brand. You are the one who is crafting the brand and directing it in the way you want it to go. Keeping your hands on the reins is as important to the final product as the pieces that will make the final product up.

To illustrate the importance of finding the right way to tell your employer branding stories, consider this scenario:

You pull together your best and brightest to help in telling the stories of your employer brand. You sit them down and ask them to say why they love working at your company, just an open floor for them to talk on. But suddenly, with the camera or recorder on them, all you get are a lot of stammers and vague answers. 

Nothing that gets to the heart of the brand you know you have and are trying to portray.

Here‚Äôs the thing: your employees are good at what they do, but what they do is not perform in interviews or write theses on why your company is a great place to work. They know they like working for you, but there‚Äôs an important key that‚Äôs missing in this scenario, and that key is your direction.

How to Give Your Brand Direction

Giving your brand direction requires legwork upfront from you. Once you’ve got the vision of your brand, you need to sit down and do the planning that will get your brand from concept to product. When it’s employees’ stories you’re selling, what that means is coming up with questions to give to your employees to tell their stories in the best way possible.

Asking Sally in accounting ‚ÄúWhat is a time you can think of where you were able to use your accounting skills to bring the company to a win‚Äù is going to give you a much more meaningful answer than a question like ‚ÄúWhy do you feel valued in the company as a member of our accounting department?‚Äù

Questions will vary depending on the story you’re trying to get out of the interviews you conduct with each employee, but they all generally should have some of the same qualities:

  • Questions should be specific: You don‚Äôt want vague answers that sound like they were pulled out of a hat; you want real and meaningful responses that talk about the little moments and aspects that make up your employees‚Äô success. Rather than asking broad questions like ‚Äúhow are you valued,‚Äù focus in more specifically like ‚Äúlist three of the things your managers do that make you feel like a valued member of the team.‚Äù
  • Focused on story-telling: Nothing gets to the heart of the matter like a good story. Look at every question you have for your employees and think about how you could get a story out of it. Let the phrase ‚Äútell me about a time‚Ķ‚Äù become your best friend.
  • There should be a plentiful number of questions: Many questions for many different stories. You want to avoid getting answers like ‚ÄúCompany x is a great place because we‚Äôre like family.‚Äù Every company is like a family. What makes you different? The only way to get past the generalized answers is to come up with many different ways to ask a question. Each time you change the question around, whether they realize it or not, the employees‚Äô answers will differ slightly. Additionally, if you‚Äôre not asking everyone the same 10 questions, you‚Äôll get back an array of answers that will drive your brand exactly in the direction you want.

Pre-planning for employer branding is what separates gods from men. Your stories will mean more and be deeper when you take the time to develop the right questions that tell the stories you want to hear. You cannot count on your employees to do this when answering—you need to give them the tools (questions) they need to give you the finished product you’re on the hunt for.

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