If you’re never gonna care about your bad reputation, then you’re living in the past, it’s a new generation. 🎸
Sorry, Joan Jett. This tune is a little outdated. According to a recent Glassdoor report, 86% of women and 67% of men in the United States wouldn't join a company if it had a negative reputation as an employer.
If it’s been a while since you revamped your hiring practices and recruitment marketing, investing a little time and energy into sprucing up your employer brand could be the ticket to attracting more high-quality candidates to your company.
We’ll take a look at some of the biggest and brightest employer brands today to help inspire your own recruitment branding makeover.
Ready? Let’s get branding!
All about employer branding
- What is an employer brand?
- 14 inspiring employer brands we can all learn from
- What makes a stellar employer brand ⭐
What is an employer brand?
Your employer brand is how your company describes its brand and culture to current and prospective employees. The term ‘employer brand’ encompasses all the recruitment-focused branding efforts that help companies attract new talent and retain existing employees.
Stellar employer branding content not only helps your business look more attractive to prospective employees, it also helps weed out candidates that aren’t a good fit.
But what makes an employer brand go from “Bad Reputation” to “I Love Rock & Roll?”
The best employer brand strategies usually revolve around an employee value proposition, which outlines the following factors:
- Why your compensation is fair, and how you evaluate pay
- What kind of benefits you have to offer employees (bonus points for uniqueness)
- How employees can expect to progress in their career
- What your work environment is like, and your expectations for the role
- A strong definition of your culture, and what personalities work well in it
For an extra dose of inspiration, let’s take a look at some of the brands with great employer branding.
It takes a team to build a team. Boost your employer brand with our free guide to uniting hiring managers and recruiters for a recruitment process everyone can be proud of.
14 inspiring employer brands we can all learn from
1. Google - Facing employer branding challenges with fun and transparency
“What’s special about our company: We give our people tremendous freedom. And we underpin our people practices with real science and data. We use science to figure out what makes teams work.”
— Laszlo Bock, former SVP People Operations, Google
Google is a great example of how a good employer brand can be used to help combat negative press and keep potential employees interested, despite what’s happening in the news.
In case you hadn’t heard, Google has come under fire over some of its policies around privacy, advertising, gender diversity, and more. But rather than buckle under the pressure, Google chose transparency for its hiring process.
Google created specific pages accessible from their careers site dedicated to discussing how people use technology to help others, as well as how they’re expanding opportunities for women.
(Also, indoor slides.😍)
As a result, high-quality candidates continue to be driven by the opportunity to work for Google, and existing employees are still reporting a 90% satisfaction rate with the company’s mission.
What We Love:
- Generous parental leave policies
- Generous retirement savings plans
- Onsite wellness services (yoga classes, massages, SLIDES)
- 3 free gourmet meals a day
- Commitment to employee learning and growth
Core Branding Strategy: Google works to create a very public display of their culture. Their bright colors both within their workspaces, and even on their user-facing site really scream “Work hard, play harder.”
Top Takeaway: Find subtle ways to show lightheartedness and fun in the workplace. Incorporate it into your client-facing brand to really drive it home.
2. Starbucks - An employer brand with a bold commitment to diversity
"Whatever your culture, your values, or your guiding principles, you have to take steps to inculcate them in the organization early in its life so that they can guide every decision, every hire, and every strategic objective you set."
— Howard Schultz, Founder
In the world of employer brands, Starbucks has a damn fine resume.
In 2022, the coffee giant ranked in the top 10 on Fortune’s highly-revered ‘Most Admired Companies’ list. The Seattle-born coffee giant has long valued diversity and inclusion as part of its talent acquisition, and has been an ongoing advocate for the LGBTQ community. No wonder it earned a 100% rating on the 2022 LGBTQ+ Equality report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. 🏳️🌈👍🏾
What We Love:
- Emphasis on inclusion & diversity
- Public promotion of their employer brand on social media channels (check out @StarbucksJobs on Instagram and Twitter!)
- Employee recognition on a massive scale via a a Jobs Playlist on their YouTube Channel
- Stock options, 401k, healthcare plans, and tuition reimbursement opportunities to attract and retain employees as they grow
Core Branding Strategy: Diversity leads to bigger ideas. Starbucks does a great job of showing its pride, and works diligently to hire a diverse team to promote inclusivity and bigger ideas. Their public display of their stance on what some would consider politically-themed issues is a broad move in today’s world, and pays off well for them.
A good example of this is how they handled Trump’s travel ban back in 2017. Following the announcement, the company protested with an announcement to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the course of five years.
Though they received some serious backlash, Starbucks did a great job responding by throwing some extra promotion behind their commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses. This helped level their political playing field, but also strengthened their employer brand by highlighting Starbucks’ understanding of its impact within the job market.
Top Takeaway: Bold commitments to diversity and inclusivity can and should be marketed, even if it could be controversial.
Ready to put your best foot forward from application to offer letter? Check out our quick read on how a cloud-based recruiting solution can make it seamless for candidates.
3. Cisco - A recognition rich culture candidates want to be a part of
“When you’re hiring the best way to ensure the best outcome you have to have an equal slate. So if I have a slate of 10 candidates I want five men and five women. And then you need to have an interview team that is diverse, and if you do that it increases your likelihood [of achieving balance].”
— Charles H. Robbins, CEO, Cisco
“Cisconians work hard — and we reward hard.”
With a motto like that, no wonder things are going great at Cisco. Balance and diversity are the keys to Cisco’s success, according to their CEO, Charles H. Robbins. The company is super active in the online world and candidates are encouraged to follow the #WeAreCisco convo on social media where the company shares inspiring employee testimonials, photos, and stories about what working at Cisco is really like.
What We Love:
- Diversity inclusion
- Community involvement
- Generous employee discounts on major purchases
- Free online classes
- Health plans, & 401k
Core Branding Strategy: Global values are reflected, always. Cisco really drives home inclusivity in the workplace and a sense of community. They make practical, but progressive decisions on perks and benefits, and strive to put employees first.
Top Takeaway: Proactively equipping employees with the right tools for success both in and out of the office make them happy to be a part of the team, and help them want to serve as brand ambassadors for their workplace.
4. Hubspot - An organic employer brand that lets great people lead the way
“Hubspot was the kind of place I wanted to be a part of before I even joined when I met Brian Halligan and I could see just how passionate he was and that Hubspot’s mission was bigger than any sort of profit objective. To see the passion in that and to walk around Hubspot and see how much our employees care about that excited me everyday”
— JD Sherman, President & COO, Hubspot
Hubspot has been named Glassdoor’s #2 best place to work in 2022. (If you’ve ever spent time in the Glassdoor rabbit hole, you know what a huge achievement that is!)
Notably, the company also ranked #1 company for women by Comparably back in 2020. With a reputation like this one, we doubt Hubspot’s hiring managers are having any trouble filling their job openings.
What We Love:
- Unlimited paid vacation
- Generous retirement savings plan matching program
- $5,000 benefit each year for employees who want to take a class
- A public culture code that sets their commitment to their workplace environment
- Public representation of what it’s like to work for Hubspot
- Displayed awards on their career page such as “best place to work for parents”
- Commitment to providing a good workplace for diversity & inclusion
Core Branding Strategy: We hire seriously great people, and empowering them is our top priority. In the digital space, we see a lot of companies working hard to attract top talent by making the workplace work for their employees. Hubspot really drives this home.
Top Takeaway: Be vocal about why it’s great to work for your company. Invest in your employee’s lives outside of the office to really make a big impact.
5. Shopify - Aligning perks with company culture
“Shopify taught me it’s never too late to take a leap. Every day, I’m learning more about myself and what else is possible.”
— Catherine Hughes, Director of Talent, Shopify
It seems like Shopify hit the jackpot this year when it comes to both business and HR awards. The ecommerce software company was ranked as one of Canada’s Top 100 employers in 2022.
It’s honestly pretty unsurprising when you look at the extensive perks, and the strong commitment to culture we see from the brand. This brand really takes a strong focus to helping employees with day to day life outside of the office, making it a fantastic place to work.
What We Love:
- Participates in outside salary surveys every 12 months
- Free home internet & remote work options
- Self-directed budgets to support learning and growth
- Employee recognition awards
- Social events to connect the team
Core Branding Strategy: Culture matters, perks are plentiful.
Top Takeaway: Try to find perks that align with your company culture. Do you believe in growth and development? Create perks around employee recognition and future job opportunities, and budget for employees to find meaningful ways to grow off the clock.
6. The Home Depot - An employer brand that puts community first
“Just as we’re continuously evolving to meet the changing expectations of our customers, we’re harnessing new technologies to do the same for job seekers.This consumer-like experience helps us hire the best talent to serve our customers.”
— Tim Hourigan, EVP HR, Home Depot
2021 was a great year for Home Depot. The nationwide home supply retailer placed #2 in Forbes World’s Best Employers list under the retail category in North America. Recognized for the third year in a row, The Home Depot has steadily increased its ranking each year since 2019. The retail giant currently ranks #22 overall, which is a very impressive feat.
What makes this retail giant continue to stand out from the HR crowd is its strong commitment to simplifying its hiring practice. In February 2018, hiring teams at Home Depot started using a mobile applicant tracking system to let candidates self-select in-person interview times for more than 80,000 open positions. (Because honestly, it all starts with a better interview process! 👌)
What We Love:
- Performance-based salary increases
- Annual health coverage
- Pet care
- Elderly care & backup care for when childcare isn’t available
Core Branding Strategy: You can do it, we can help. Home Depot is a great example of how an employer brand, and a consumer-facing brand can go hand in hand. Home Depot empowers employees to show up for work by helping to make sure they’re taken care of at home.
Top Takeaway: When it comes to real life, things happen. Daycare centers close, loved ones get sick, and sometimes, people need a little help. Home Depot has a really interesting benefit called “Backup care” Where they provide child care for workers on days when their usual sitter or childcare center may fall through. Taking care of employees helps them stay focused on the task at hand, and shows them you care.
7. Netflix - Leading with experience and autonomy
“The foundations of freedom, and responsibility — not having a lot of rules, not having policies, not using sort of bureaucracy or hierarchy to govern — but instead really providing context to folks and giving them all the freedom to do their job and all the responsibility…has increased over time instead of decreased, and continues to work.”
— Tawni Cranz, former Chief Talent Officer, Netflix
Netflix is fond of saying it hires only “fully formed adults,” and that’s exactly how the company treats its employees. Netflix has pioneered the concept that workers should be allowed to take whatever vacation time they need back in 2014, and since then, many companies have followed suit.
What We Love:
- Highly competitive salaries
- 12 whole months of paid maternity leave
- Open working hours
- No. Rules.
Core Branding Strategy: “We hire adults.” Netflix works on a system of trust, and emphasizes that by avoiding rules in the workplace. Unlimited PTO, flexible working hours, and a whopping 12 months of paid maternity/paternity leave shows that they encourage and celebrate adulting, even in a world where we all just want to sit on the couch and watch cartoons.
Top Takeaway: Instilling trust in your employees inspires them to do better. Going a step further and empowering them with benefits that help them manage their lives will have even more positive results.
8. Salesforce - Putting community service at the heart of the culture
“I want a company where people are excited to come to work every day, where they feel good when they get here, where it doesn’t take from them, but it’s giving to them, it’s giving to others.”
— Marc Benioff, Founder & CEO, Salesforce
Marc Benioff started Salesforce in 1999 with a whole new perspective on business. On their first day of work, employees are taken to do volunteer service. “They’ll go to a homeless shelter or they’ll go to the hospital or go to a public school. This is a very core part of our culture,” explains Marc.
For Salesforce, winning awards for doing good deeds is simply business as usual. The company has ranked on the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For list for 13 years in a row, ranking #2 in 2020, based on the charitable work it did during the pandemic.
What We Love
- 5 million volunteer hours recorded during the height of the pandemic
- Pet-friendly office
- Free gym memberships
- Work from home option
Core Branding Strategy: Community matters. Be the type of business that makes an impact beyond your scope of work.
Top Takeaway: While financial donations are a great way to give back, volunteering hours and allowing employees an opportunity to actively participate in volunteer work while on the clock can have even more positive results. It can help put a caring face to your place of business, and up the overall morale of your employees.
9. In-N-Out-Burger - An employer brand with some delicious perks
“Just looking for a set schedule to spend more time with my kids and wife.This company gives us opportunity to work with others also be able to guide others in their careers. It gives us opportunity to train and gives us a reason to come back to work. We truly care about our associates and our customers.”
— LA-based Shift Manager, In-N-Out-Burger via Indeed
Fast food probably isn’t the first industry to come to mind when thinking about world-leading work environments. Not so for In-N-Out.
The better burger joint ranked higher than Google, clocking in at #3 on Glassdoor’s list of 100 best places to work in 2019, and continued to secure the top slot for three whole years in a row, still ranking #3 in 2021. Let’s not forget, all of this is happening through a global pandemic. 😲
What We Love:
- Extremely flexible scheduling, designed to put employees with similar personalities on the clock at the same time
- Free food every day you work
- Store managers an average yearly salary of more than $160,000, 3x the industry average, making it clear their employer brand is not just for teenagers looking for a part-time job
- PTO, health insurance, dental insurance, the full workup of benefits, whether you’re full or part time.
Core Branding Strategy: Restaurants aren’t just for teenagers trying to have extra pocket money in college. Diversity in the hospitality industry is a major driver, and maybe especially in the food industry. While the argument of limiting wage increases in fast food is that “we shouldn’t be paying teenagers to flip burgers,” nowhere in the job description does it state “teens only,” and the average age of someone working in a restaurant is 29. In-N-Out does a great job speaking to experienced workers in the industry, and providing benefits that reflects their expertise.
Top Takeaway: Consider industry standards with pay, but use it as a bottom-tier guideline for determining salary. Some industries are less competitive with pay, but their workers are struggling to make ends meet, and it’s resulting in underperforming staff.
10. Denny’s - A strong focus on employee advancement
Amazing place to work. Owner is very involved with his restaurant and all the employees are very helpful and a pleasure to work with.
—Server via Indeed
If you ever have been in need of pancakes at 2 am after a night out, odds are, you’ve been warmly welcomed into a Denny’s.
Outside of always having pancakes when you need them most, Denny’s has been named on the list of Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces for 2021 by Newsweek and Best Practice Institute.
The chain was most noted for the focus on career advancement that they offered to employees, providing growth opportunities both in and out of the restaurants.
What We Love:
- Mentorship programs
- Access to senior leadership
- Reimbursement for academic achievements
- Employee-created resource groups
Core Branding Strategy: Commitment to the whole employee. Denny’s strives to help people be their best selves.
Top Takeaway: Understand that many younger workers may have bigger goals outside of their current position. Learn how you can support them to get there within their current roles, and try to find opportunities for growth within the company that align with where they want to be.
11. Veterans United Home Loans - A brand that enlists its employees in its mission
"Great work/life balance, amazing opportunities to grow your career, great co-workers, and overall amazing atmosphere."
—Employee via Glassdoor
As a company designed to help veterans achieve homeownership via VA loans, it’s no major surprise that Veterans United Home Loans has a big focus on community involvement and volunteering.
Rated #10 on Fortune’s Best Places to Work For Millenials in 2022, the company has a strong focus on inclusivity and bettering its employees and those around them.
What We Love:
- Wellness support
- Employee-funded Foundation that serves veterans, their primary customer base
- Starting diversity dialogs
Core Branding Strategy: You can’t duplicate our people. Veterans United Home Loans works to hire compassionate people, and rewards them for their efforts.
Top Takeaway: Working with veterans as their consumers, it’s a really unique spin to have employees fund a grant program for vets. Raising awareness for the needs of veterans helps employees grasp the big picture impact they have on who they serve, and gives them a sense of purpose in the workplace.
12. Bain & Company
“Open dialogue has helped us to push the boundaries of traditional teaming, fostering increased flexibility, virtual collaboration and a holistic approach to wellbeing for our people.”
— Russ Hagey, Chief Talent Officer
The pandemic was hard for a lot of businesses, but Bain & Company is an example of a company that did things extremely well during a tough time. Rather than taking a lead from thousands of other HR professionals and jumping into policy changes based on the needs of the business, the leadership team at Bain & Company took the time to take a real look at how employees were being impacted and used the hardship as a challenge to do better.
Their response landed them on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For for the second year in a row in 2021. ✨
What We Love:
- People-first foundation
- Encouraging honest, transparent conversations during tough times
- Not just looking to see employees find success, but to help them thrive
- Diversity focus and inclusion priorities
Core Branding Strategy: Don’t just succeed, thrive. Bain & Company worked hard to empower people with what they needed throughout the pandemic and saw happy employees in return.
Top Takeaway: Confront challenges with optimism, and use what you learn to better yourself outside of the challenging situation. Teach employees to do the same.
13. Bank Of America - An employer that shows up for working women
“Company has a great product offering and in-depth intellectual thought leadership.”
— Former employee
Ranked #3 in Best Workplaces for Women in Fortune’s 2021 report, Bank of America has made a strong commitment to supporting women around the world.
With benefits structured to help fill the gaps women face balancing work and personal lives, all employees, especially women, really strive here.
What We Love:
- Tuition reimbursement
- Reimbursement for costs associated with adoption and comprehensive medical support to help with fertility
- 16 weeks of paid parental leave – maternity, paternity and adoption
- Support for nursing mothers
- Backup childcare and financial support for childcare
Core Branding Strategy: Bring your whole, best self to work.
Top Takeaway: Normalize families. Empower women in the workplace to continue their career path once they return from starting a family.
14. Hyatt Hotels Corporation - A hospitality employer brand that nails it
"Our leaders have always encouraged us to try new approaches and learn by experimentation. The biggest learning through this was that persistence and calculated risks, pay off."
— General Manager
A lot of people feel uneasy about making personal connections with their professional colleagues.
At Hyatt Hotels, this type of connection is not only supported, but encouraged. Being named in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, it’s no surprise Hyatt feels like home to customers and employees alike.
What We Love:
- Community volunteering
- Group brainstorming
- Encouraged connections - offsite fun & shared lunch
- Nonprofit partners
Core Branding Strategy: “Care is at the heart of our business.” Hyatt was built by family, and is run by friends.
Top Takeaway: Connections within the workplace are so important. They not only help improve teamwork, but also can lower turnover rates.
What makes a stellar employer brand ⭐
Though these companies may make it look easy, it takes a lot to make a good employer brand.
In today’s talent-led hiring market, the standard two weeks of paid vacation time is just not going to be enough to sway job seekers.
Here are some of the core considerations to keep in mind when developing your own employer brand.
Benefits, Benefits, Benefits.
Unlimited PTO is starting to be the norm in some industries. As more and more businesses take the reins on leading the way with maternity leave, competitive compensation structures, and even providing benefits to part time employees, you’ll want to ensure your benefits are as competitive as possible and clearly communicated throughout your inclusive job postings.
And Don’t Forget Those PERKS
Do you have a slide in the office? Free food? Allow dogs? Employees are going to need a little something extra to show that you take their happiness seriously in the workplace. TIP: Think of something really unique to stand out from other perk-focused companies in your field.
Consider Life Outside of The Office
Childcare is expensive. Elder care is hard to find. Dogs need walking, houses need cleaning, and workers need a burnout sabbatical. Anything you can do to improve your employee’s day to day outside of the office is going to remind them off the clock why they love working for you.
Invest in Diversity
When it comes to diversity and equal pay for equal work, it’s not only acceptable to discuss your core beliefs on modern hiring practices, it’s almost inexcusable not to. Modern workers want to be part of a diverse workforce. They want an opportunity to think broader and to know their peers will be compensated fairly.
Use your employer brand to give back to your community
In many cases, big business has a bad reputation.
Don’t let candidates and employees view your company as just another bureaucracy that doesn’t put employees first.
Take inspiration from the many organizations doing great work to humanize their recruitment, hiring and employee engagement processes. And if possible, explore ways to position your employer brand in a way that empowers your company to give back to your community. Whether it’s by way of monetary donations, volunteer hours or partnerships, giving back to the community you serve is a great way to show employees you care.
Finally, keep in mind that while it’s always great to take a page from someone else’s hiring playbook, the best employer branding strategy will always align with your unique kind of awesome. 😉