There is something to those "best place to work" contests you see creeping into major cities and nationwide initiatives. When you're hunting for top performers, that kind of employer branding could really tick in your favor.
Employer branding. Let's talk about that. Most commonly, branding is a term used in marketing. Branding situates your product, your service, and your reputation in the sunny spot at the top of your industry. An intelligent and well-executed marketing plan will get you part of the way...but only if you have the team to create stellar products and services that maintain that great reputation. Employer branding works to attract those top performers.
Four things that impact your employer brand--for better or for worse--are: (1) the physical aspects of the workplace; (2) your commitment to employee recognition and training; (3) your interest in employee input; and (4) your interest in your employees as human beings. To build a strong employer brand, examine your company culture for these four things, and then brag about them in your search for applicants.
Descriptions of the workplace. Physically, what is it like? Talk about your newly remodeled offices with comfy chic decorating. Talk about the fastidious maintenance that goes into keeping the factory floor clean and up-to-date. Talk about the trendy neighborhood with outdoor cafes and sidewalk art. Talk about the beautiful nature trail around the campus.
Commitment to employee recognition and training. People like to feel their work matters. How do you make employees feel like they matter? Do you have an awards program? Do you celebrate accomplishments? How frequently? Talk about incentive programs and ongoing training opportunities.
Employee input. In addition to feeling like their work matters, people also like to know that their input counts for something. What systems do you have in place for soliciting and using employee feedback? And for that matter, what do current employees have to say to prospective employees? Can you put it in a video?
Employees are people, too. A "best place to work" recognizes that their employees are human beings with lives. They have families and hobbies and creative pursuits and personal goals. People want to work for companies who honor that and encourage it. Talk about your on-site fitness center and daycare, the new vegan menu in the cafeteria. Talk about your company's social organizations--the softball team and the foodie club.
Ultimately, no matter how good you get at finding top talent, you need to be able to get them to sign on, stay, and perform - and that means an appealing, and AUTHENTIC, employer brand.