Currently, there are tens of thousands of open jobs in retail in the U.S. alone. Wages are growing, jobs are plentiful, and candidates know that today they have options. They can afford to be picky about the retailer they choose to work for.
This has retailers scrambling to come up with new ways to compete for talent. Retail businesses know they have to be smart about attracting, recruiting, and retaining employees—but how?
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What is employer branding?
The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, famously said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Do you know what your job candidates and employees say about your brand? Does your company have a reputation for being a good place to work?
These days, it’s not enough for companies to simply create a job listing and watch the applications roll in. In order to recruit and retain talent, companies are tasked with building a brand that’s seen as an “employer of choice” by job candidates. In other words, create a company culture that employees will appreciate and recommend to their friends.
This is accomplished by creating an environment that allows employees to “live the brand” through training and growth opportunities, which increases job satisfaction and the likelihood that employees will stay loyal to the organization. In fact, an OfficeVibe survey found that employee turnover can be reduced by as much as 28 percent by investing in employer branding.
Why employer branding is important in retail
Almost every industry can benefit from employer branding—and retail is definitely one of them. In recent years, retail wages have been growing. According to Glassdoor, in June 2017 median base pay in the U.S. grew by 1.7 percent YoY. Retail jobs saw higher wage growth, with cashier wages up 4.1 percent YoY and store manager wages up 2.8 percent YoY.
With higher pay and more available jobs than candidates, retailers have to get creative to recruit and retain good people. Armed with this knowledge, an increasing number of retailers are committed to growing and improving their employer brands. By focusing on employer branding, they can find ways to differentiate themselves from competitors. How do they do it?
Best employer branding examples for retail
When it comes to building out an employer brand, some retailers definitely stand out in the crowd. Whether it is their specific company culture, great careers site or exceptional social media presence, it is evident that they have been dedicated to building their employer brand. Here are a few of our favorite employer branding examples for retail, along with what we think makes them great.
IKEA is a well-known Swedish furniture retailer, well-known for selling modern home furniture and décor at affordable prices. They currently operate 315 stores in 27 countries around the world and employ over 150,000 staff members.
With big plans to expand, IKEA recognizes the importance of building out their employer brand and investing in both existing and potential employees. They’re constantly looking to improve working conditions and to ensure all of their team members are fulfilling their individual potential. They aim to show employees that they can develop as people, while also “creating a better life for many”. This is all reflected on a robust careers site that outlines anything and everything a job seeker may want to know.
Lars-Erik Fridolfsson, Talent Manager of IKEA Sweden Retail, explained: “As part of our selection process, we encourage candidates to come to the interview with a photo of their living room and ask them to talk about what they like about the room and what inspires them. From these conversations, you can quickly identify people who have a real passion for home furnishing and good design, and how they can make a difference to our customers’ lives – these are the co-workers we want and the co-workers who can grow together with us.”
2. The Home Depot
The Home Depot is an American home improvement retailer that sells tools and construction products. They’re actually the fifth-largest private employer in the U.S., with more than 413,000 employees across almost 2,000 retail locations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The home supply retailer is winning at employer branding, with a campaign focused on sharing real employee stories called “The Fabric of The Home Depot.” Through a series of quotes, photos, and videos, they highlight different employees around the country. The company is also well-known for their commitment to hiring military job seekers.
Their careers page features these stories, along with language that expresses a feeling of home and family. They also emphasize their company values, like taking care of people and building strong relationships—qualities that will undoubtedly be attractive to job seekers. They share that the key to their success is treating people well and recognizing and rewarding good performance.
The company is also great about showcasing employee stories and successes on their social media accounts. For example, the @homedepotcareers Instagram account is dedicated to showing candidates what a career looks like at The Home Depot. In the words of The Home Depot’s own CEO, Craig Menear: “For me, greatness is watching the development of folks around me and seeing them doing what they didn’t think was possible.”
Lululemon Athletica, styled as lululemon, is an athletic apparel retailer based in Vancouver, Canada. They sell yoga-inspired workout apparel for both women and men, with more than 400 brick-and-mortar locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Over the years, lululemon has earned a reputation for solid employer branding. The careers page on the company website uses fun, playful language and emphasizes the importance of self-empowerment, positivity, and doing what you love.
In their own words: “We believe in a lot of things. Sweating once a day. Flossing. Having daily dance parties. Above all, we believe in self-empowerment, positive inner-development and living a life of possibility. A lululemon career is more than what you do today; it’s what you’re going to do tomorrow. #joblove”
They take the #joblove notion a step further, through engaging social media pages for employees. For example, the @lululemonpeople Twitter account is full of fun employee photos, lululemon milestones, and new job postings. In all of their employer branding efforts, they present themselves as a fun, active company that celebrates personal growth.
We’ve had some unique group costumes for Halloween today: here are our Self Care Bears. pic.twitter.com/PQdBxHleZ6
— lululemonpeople (@lululemonpeople) 31 October 2018
lululemon doesn’t hesitate to show what the company is like on the inside, giving the potential applicants a feel for the atmosphere.
Lidl is one of the largest supermarkets in Europe, with 8,000 stores in more than 23 countries. As they continue to expand internationally, the company is constantly on the hunt for new managers for their supermarkets; however, finding qualified candidates is challenging.
Besides promoting their openings on the careers page, Lidl launched a social media campaign targeting potential managers, with an emphasis on storytelling to boost their employer brand. The campaign, designed to give potential candidates a realistic view of what it’s like to work at Lidl, showcased real employee stories through a series of quotes, photos, and videos.
“We could see that the campaign got quickly picked up by our employees: they all started to eagerly share their stories on social media and this created a lot of buzz internally as well. One thing that really resonated with the majority of our employees was the internally adopted slogan ‘Together we Lidl’,” said Marco Dalmeijer, the Employer Branding Specialist at Lidl Netherlands about the campaign.
Lidl US has a Facebook page where they share not only career openings but also present what working at the company is like to capture the attention of potential candidates.
Recreational Equipment Inc., commonly known as REI, is an American retailer that sells sporting goods, camping gear, and other outdoor recreation products. The company currently operates 154 locations in 36 states.
REI took their employer brand to the next level with the Opt Outside campaign—something that many now consider a movement that’s bigger than the brand itself. It started back in 2015 when the company made the shocking announcement to close all of their retail stores on Black Friday.
In the CEO Jerry Stritzke’s own words:
“Black Friday is a perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected, and complete when you choose to spend it outside. We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to Opt Outside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”
Rituals is a home and body cosmetics retailer based in the Netherlands. They operate more than 625 stores all over the world, in shopping streets, airports, hotels, and even on luxury cruise liners. Rituals was actually recognized as the fastest growing Dutch firm, consistently hiring and expanding to new areas.
The cosmetics retailer takes a unique approach to building out their employer brand. How? They aim to make an ambassador out of every rejected applicant, emphasize the importance of slowing down and enjoying the small things, and celebrate authentic inner and outer beauty. On their recruitment efforts, Irene Vernie said: “We treat our applicants as our best customer; every applicant is an ambassador for the brand.”
Additionally, Rituals manages a careers website with many helpful resources for job seekers. They share information about the brand, what it means to “get ritualized,” and even an interactive game that’s based on the candidate journey.
Walmart is an American retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department stores. Based on revenue, Walmart is literally the largest company in the world. With 2.4 million employees worldwide, it’s safe to say the retail giant knows a little something about employer branding.
Of course, Walmart has an amazing careers website—but it’s much more than that. The company manages an Instagram account called @walmartworld, where they share fun, real-life employee content from Walmart locations around the world.
The #TeamWalmart stories range from heart-warming to fun and inspiring. They also recognize different employees and teams for a job well done—something that’s sure to catch the attention of potential job seekers.
Walmart’s Michael Smith shared some valuable advice for companies looking to build out their employer brands: “Just selling everyone on ‘this is a great company’ is a mistake, because not everybody is going to be a good fit, and you don’t want to bring people in just to have a revolving door and have them leave within a few months. So understanding your company is really important. Understanding your enterprise goals and then translating them into recruiting goals.”
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“We are extremely blessed to have the love and support of our extended Walmart family. From our first days with Theo in the NICU, through special moments like celebrating Father’s Day (also Theo’s first ukulele lesson), to now.” Two years ago, the Adoptive and Foster People of Walmart, a group of supportive fellow associates, helped Heather and Michael McCauley with parenting advice and diapers while they adopted their son, Theo. Congrats on your recent adoptiversary, McCauley family! #TeamWalmart
Microsoft is an American technology company that develops, manufactures, supports, and sells electronics. A computer pioneer, they’re recognized as the world’s sixth-largest information technology company based on revenue. While not exactly a company in the retail space, the company does operate over 110 stores across the U.S. and in Canada, Australia and Puerto Rico and when it comes to employer branding, Microsoft is also leading the way. That’s why we included it in our list.
The company dedicates a significant amount of time and resources to maintaining a culture that employees love. They manage a blog for employees called Microsoft Life, which highlights personal stories, exciting company milestones, and advice.
The blog posts are compelling and unique. It’s also clear that Microsoft is invested in diversity and inclusion, with articles and video that range from hiring veterans and training for women to transgender and LGBTQ employee activism. They also maintain an active presence on the @microsoftlife Instagram account, where they share “behind the scenes” photos of everything from fun quirky employee events to exciting office perks at Microsoft locations around the world.
Microsoft also has a YouTube account where they share various moments from the life at the company, as well as employee stories.
While every organization can certainly benefit from focused employer branding efforts, it’s especially necessary in today’s competitive retail environment. In order for retailers to attract, recruit, and retain the best talent possible, it’s essential they build out their employer brands and showcase what makes them different from the competition.
We picked out 8 employer branding examples for retail that can inspire you in building and sharing your unique employer brand.
Want more inspiration? Check out what your competitors are doing but don’t copy their strategy. Make it better!