April 2022: The rise of employer branding – what it is, why it matters and how to do it

Samantha Huddle


What’s it like to work at your organisation? Do people feel welcome and included? Do you pay fairly?

These are the kinds of questions being asked by the people you are hoping to recruit.

And the answers they hear? That’s your employer brand.

“Employer branding is simply what an individual thinks it’s like to work at your company,” says Fiona Byarugaba, employer brand manager & DEI lead at Great Place to Work Certified™ tech consultancy Thoughtworks, ranked #4 in Australia’s Best Workplaces™ list (Medium) 2021

“Whether or not you have done anything to build an employer brand, you have one.”

“It’s written on the faces of your people, it’s in the gory or glorious detail of your Glassdoor reviews, it’s in the energy or malaise of your everyday working environment. Your brand is your reputation as an employer.”

We spoke to Byarugaba to discover more about the emerging field of employer branding, how it can benefit an organisation and what steps leaders can take to improve their own employer brands.

Byarugaba says the discipline of employer branding has emerged from recruitment marketing and is focused on engaging and nurturing potential talent before they apply for a role. It also seeks to ensure the actual employee experience lives up to that promise.

As a discipline, it sits between human resources, recruitment, capabilities, leadership and marketing and draws on all five to create a coherent picture of what it’s like to work somewhere.

It is also deeply connected with the diversity, equity and inclusion programs and policies that ensure individual employees have consistently positive work experiences.

“Lots of organisations say ‘DEI is in our DNA’, but if that was the case, we wouldn’t have to work as hard on it,” says Byarugaba.

“DEI strategies and the employee experience are intertwined.”

So, what are some steps leaders can take to improve their employer brand?

Byarugaba offers four tips:

  1. Acknowledge you have an employer brand — regardless of whether you have ever done anything about it. “Being aware of it will challenge you to be intentional about it.”
  2. Lead by example and get your functional heads in HR, recruitment, marketing and training to talk to each other about it. “It’s like an orchestra, the instruments
    on their own won’t create music as beautiful as when they play together.”
  3. Figure out who takes care of the belonging aspect of the employee experience. Byarugaba calls it “the vibe within the team after employees have joined.”
  4. Ensure you have a defined employee value proposition, which is the structured balance of rewards and benefits that an employee receives in return for what they contribute to a workplace. “If you don’t have one, create one.”

And finally, how do you know if you are doing well with your employer brand?

Byarugaba says organisations should be clear that the value they offer employees is twofold: objectively, they offer elements like salary, health insurance and leave days, while subjectively, they offer values like autonomy, engaging work and interesting clients.

This means measurement can be tricky.

“We have metrics like external ratings and employee surveys, but we also have qualitative subjective measures.”

“Do employees say ‘I don’t want to leave, I feel I belong, I feel like I’m in a safe place’? When you establish that credibility is when the magic starts to happen.”

“An employee value proposition is like your company’s soundtrack. When you hear the James Bond theme song, you know what to expect.”

“So, when people think about your organisation, what comes to mind?”


Great Place to Work® recognises leading company culture – if you want to amplify your employees’ stories, join a community of people first, purpose driven organisations with access to industry insights and shared knowledge, contact us about the first step in our process – getting Certified™ today.

Samantha Huddle