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The Truth Shall Set Your Employer Brand Free

Friday, August 30, 2019

The outward expression of an employer brand is the series of stories you tell to make your organization relevant and compelling to current and prospective employees.

Since we know what employees value in a job, branding is simple, with one big dependency: Is the truth on your side?

There is no hiding anymore.

The people living your experience every day know the truth and aren’t afraid to share it. Glassdoor and Blind act as authenticity barometers to the outside world. People tend to believe those sites more than your carefully curated “Careers” page or the recruiter with the finely honed company story.

Focus on telling the true stories of your people and organization—and do it in a compelling way to elicit pride from your current employees and invite curiosity from prospective ones.

If you don’t have the right stories to tell, spend your time, your effort, and your limited people-related resources working on your employee experience.

Here are some of the stories employer brands should tell:

Every company knows why they exist and most have a defined purpose. It’s one thing to have a purpose statement. It’s another thing to live it. People want to know those stories.


Values and Culture
Culture is the system of embedded behaviors that guide the everyday actions of the organization and its people. It’s a lot more than saying we have “great people” or “people really like each other.” Culture is a lot more than being nice, and the stories you tell about it should reveal what matters and how you operate.

Freedom and Flexibility
All employees can’t be the CEO, but they can be the CEO of their own work. Clear expectations, autonomy, support, and responsibility boost productivity. Offering employees a work schedule to fit with the trials, travel, and seasons of life is gaining momentum. Freedom and flexibility allow people to self-manage and are a direct symbol of trust extended from the organization to employees.

Personal and Professional Growth
If the employees you really want to keep aren’t growing, they’ll leave. An organization can’t make people grow, but it can provide structure, opportunities, and support for employees to move forward in building their skills and career as well as helping them grow individually.

Community and World Impact
Employees expect organizations to do no harm when creating their products, services, and experiences as well as take an active role in doing good for society. They also expect to have a role in influencing these positive changes.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Diversity, inclusion, equality, and belonging resonate with employees. A commitment to diversity and gender and racially diverse photography on a career page means you are in the starting block. What more are you doing?


In most organizations, people are asked to do too much too fast. Creating boundaries remains hard and the present hustle culture adds guilt into the equation. Employees struggle to take care of their needs while they attend to the requirements of their jobs. If the expectations are always-on availability, immediate response times, and weekend work, tell that story and tell them why it will be worth it. If the story is about ebb and flow, limited weekend work, and reasonable response times, tell that one.

Compensation and Benefits
Money matters. Tell how you view compensation beyond “we offer competitive pay” and what people can expect for lending their time, talent, passion, and effort to the organization. Purpose and culture don’t pay the bills and shouldn’t be used as a mechanism to avoid paying employees what they are worth or offering meaningful benefits.

Social Life
Roughly 94 percent of companies believe they are a fun place to work. Even while companies are on an endless quest for more and more productivity, employees want to experience joy at work. This comes in all forms and fashions, but there is an expectation that the scene at work should encompass inspiring, educational, and social events—along with the time to enjoy them. *Not a statistic supported by actual data.

This story isn’t about an Insta-perfect office with an Airstream conference room—although that would be pretty rad. Rather, how have you designed a place for people to do their best work, foster connections, and enjoy where they spend a significant portion of their time?

Swag doesn’t hurt. Neither does free lunch nor a climbing wall. Perks are like heated seats in a car—they’re nice but won’t get you where you need to be. They feel good, however, can be a source of pride (and bragging rights with friends), and may be table stakes based on competitors for talent.

Where did you end up? Stories to tell, work to do, somewhere in-between? Regardless of what you have to share, make the right choices on behalf of employees and the stories will tell themselves.

About the Author

Mark Tomaszewicz's life’s purpose is to create meaningful experiences for others. After a first career in corporate finance, Mark has spent the last dozen years guiding organizations in designing customer and employee experiences, activating brands and cultivating vibrant cultures. Currently, he is the chief experience officer at Bulldog Drummond, a San Diego-based design and innovation consultancy. Prior to joining Bulldog, he held leadership positions at Sharp HealthCare and the luxury retailer Pirch. The three most important roles Mark has ever held remain—husband, father, and friend.

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