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Businesses invest considerable time and resources into crafting compelling brand stories about products and services. The goal is to influence sales, build trust, and grow relationships with customers who have become true brand evangelists.

Branding is the heartbeat of corporate America — but do you have the pulse on your employer branding strategy?

Your employer brand, which is built on your reputation among current and former employees, is a key lens through which job seekers often view your company. 

Employee perspectives often offer potential applicants and candidates insights into leadership, values, and culture — the intangibles that signal to top talent which opportunities are worth pursuing.

To attract and retain employees who believe in and support your employer brand, you need to make your company story known. More importantly, you need to live your employer brand through a culture that demonstrates a commitment to shared success.

Employee ownership through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) can be a powerful way to align your employer brand with your company's values and culture, demonstrating a genuine commitment to shared success and empowering employees as stakeholders in the business.

Job Seeker Expectations and Your Employer Branding Strategy

As the U.S. unemployment rate currently hovers around 4%1, it’s no secret that vying for top talent in many industries is competitive and ongoing. An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a compelling differentiator when job seekers are weighing their options.

Offering an ESOP reinforces the culture of ownership that’s the cornerstone of your employer brand. It also reflects a willingness to invest in employee well-being and long-term career growth — a must-have for 76% of job seekers.

Prospective employees have clear boundaries around the type of employer and workplace they want. Nearly 80% vet a company’s reputation before applying for a position, and about that same percentage want a clear understanding of a company’s culture and values.3 

If their research suggests an employer brand won’t deliver to expectations, 69% of job seekers will reject a job offer.3 This can be a mountain for HR professionals to climb without a firm grasp on how to improve employer branding or attractive recruiting tools such as an ESOP.

ESOPs as a Recruitment and Retention Advantage

Nearly 90% of HR professionals agree that a strong employer branding strategy provides a competitive advantage.3 Supplementing it with an ESOP positions your company as one that recognizes employee contributions and rewards loyalty — a desirable value-add that aligns with a majority of job seekers’ priorities.

In short, a strong employer brand draws talent. A company that invests in its employer brand can readily triple its chances of making a quality hire.

It also provides attractive potential cost-per-hire savings:

  • 50% reduction in time to hire3
  • Reduction in cost per hire — 23% of 28- to 34-year-olds would consider a pay cut in exchange for working for a company with a good employer brand2
  • 28% increase in employee retention3

Conversely, a company with a poor employer brand may be in a position to have to offer a minimum of a 10% pay increase to lure candidates to positions.2 Paying premiums adds up quickly, and there’s no guarantee of return on that investment.

7 Steps to Building an Influential Employer Brand

Why is employer branding important? It’s a question that needs to be answered through action. Mindfully crafting an employer brand strategy helps clarify how to authentically live out its tenets, engage current employees, and find the next great additions to your team.

To build your employer brand and make impactful hires, follow these 7 steps:

  1. Revisit your company’s mission, values, and vision statements to ensure they accurately capture your unique value proposition. A review can reveal gaps in business objectives and inform hiring decisions focused on filling those gaps.
  2. Audit your brand to gain objective understanding of your company’s reputation among current employees and job seekers. Monitor social media, conduct internal surveys, tap into job aggregators/employment site reviews to learn about the current state — and what you can improve or leverage.
  3. Focus efforts around an employer value proposition that conveys your company’s passion and purpose across all touchpoints. Does it give current and prospective employees a sense that their work and contributions are meaningful?
  4. Get your current employees involved in promoting your employer brand and culture. Employees are three times more credible than CEOs when talking about the company, so empower them to provide testimonials and reviews, short videos, and social content.4 You never know what will resonate with job seekers.
  5. Create an onboarding experience that reinforces a new employee’s belief in having made the right choice and gets them excited about growing in their position and with the company.
  6. Support skills training and development programs that keep employees engaged, thereby increasing retention. Job seekers also view training initiatives as essential when considering opportunities.
  7. Leverage social media by sharing a variety of content (videos, photos, etc.) to reach prospects on platforms where they already engage online. Also consider repurposing content from your site to drive job seekers to your careers page.

Your employer brand raises your stakes in employee recruitment and retention. However, even the most well-crafted strategy or best managed reputation isn’t effective if it isn’t honest. Keep it real and keep your promises to bring the right people to your team.

But don’t rely solely on attractive perks to find and keep quality individuals. An ESOP provides another reason — perhaps the best one — for prospective and current employees to choose to be loyal and long-term. 

Learn more about the appeal of ESOPs by reviewing the results of our research survey, Recruiting & Retention Value of Employee Benefits.



1U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation - January 2024, February 2, 2024

2Built In, What Is Employer Branding? Definition, Benefits and Strategies | Built In, July 29, 2022

3Vouch, 21 Employer Brand Statistics To Know in 2024 | Vouch, December 2, 2023

4HubSpot, Employer Branding: What It Is and How To Build It for Your Business, January 6, 2023

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