How Employment Brand Marketing can Boost Your Business

Just as you promote your services to your ideal client, employment brand marketing can help you find your ideal employees. Use this checklist to find the right employee for you.

 

How has your company fared throughout the pandemic? Are you struggling perhaps with sales, networking, or building your perfect team of employees? Are you back to where you were pre-pandemic—or will you ever be?

All over the world, people have had to make some choices. As a business owner, you have a lot going on, and if you are like me, making choices during the onset of the pandemic, such as whether to lay off staff or pivot your business focus, were difficult and impactful.

At Zephyr, we took things one day at a time, stayed connected as a team, and did as much “business as usual” as we reasonably could. We are happy to report that business is picking up again, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. We hope the same is for you or that it will be very soon!

As the leader of this incredible company, I tried my hardest to use that downtime wisely, making good decisions for today and for the near future. And that experience really taught me a lot—and I believe has better prepared me to handle a future crisis should it come our way.

As my esteemed colleague, Dr. Sabrina Staring, recently wrote, “What I want you to understand is we want to avoid the survival traps. The survival trap is where we make a short-term decision that gets us through today or next week or the next two months. But that can actually take us very far off course from our vision.”

I couldn’t agree more! It’s not enough to just survive a crisis, but rather use it as an opportunity to thrive. Whatever the crisis, it will end—and what do you want your company to look like when you come out on the other side? The sooner you get out of crisis mode, the sooner you will discover opportunity and innovation.

Whether you are still experiencing a slower time for your business, or you have regular slower times such as during the summer, around the holidays or whatever your “off-season” is, it is an excellent time for you to work ON your business. We at Zephyr, suggest learning about Employment Brand Marketing and how it can serve you in the long term.

Employment Brand Marketing (EBM) is a marketing approach and strategy that speaks to and engages with your RIGHT FIT™ employee, whether you are currently hiring or not. Just as you promote your services to your ideal client, here you are marketing to your ideal employee—or as we call them, your RIGHT FIT™ Employee.

RELATED: What is a RIGHT FIT ™ Employee?

When unemployment is low, EBM is beneficial to help employers stand out. When unemployment is high, it helps narrow the pool to those who are truly a good fit. This will save you valuable time when reviewing hundreds of applicants who will apply to your job.

Now is an excellent time to develop the strategy and get it launched so that you are ready to find RIGHT FIT™ Employees (RFE) before your competition finds them.

Check out our EBM checklist to get started:

Discover your RIGHT FIT™

  • Know your values, immutable laws, mission, vision, and your big WHY
  • Understand and write out your company culture and personality
  • Understand and write out your team’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Write down the common traits and strengths all your current RFEs embody
  • Develop your RFE profile based on all the information you gathered above

Develop your Strategy

  • Determine where your RIGHT FIT™ Employee hangs out online and which social media channels they frequent
  • Determine the right messaging, what reflects your culture well and speaks to the RFE
  • Create an EBM social media calendar outlining what you will post, when, and where. These posts need to showcase your team and what it is like to work at your organization
  • Determine who on your team will be responsible for posting on social media and hold them accountable
  • Create an Employee Spotlight template that allows you to showcase your employees on social media, in your email marketing, and on your website (how often should you showcase employees? Attempt to have each employee showcased once per year, so adjust the frequency based on the size of your team).
  • Determine other ways you can communicate and market your company as an Employer of Choice. What can you do in your community? Are there sponsorship opportunities, or volunteer opportunities? What about events you can support or be a vendor for? Any high school sports teams you can sponsor? Get creative and add them to your strategy plan.
  • What materials or supplies do you need to implement the strategy plan? Do you need team t-shirts or signs and posters for example?
  • Designate or rotate someone on your team to be the Team Reporter to document your culture, events you attend, the team in action, volunteering, etc. Use video, photography, and content writing
  • Collect all of this information and put it in an Employee Brand Marketing Plan.

Implement

  • Develop a professional-grade video for your website that shows your company culture and what it is like to work there. You can also get short snippets and use these for social media posts (like how many brands will have 60, 30 and 15 second ads).

    RELATED: Use Video to Amplify Your Marketing and Drive Results.

  • Create a Careers or About Us page for your website highlighting you as an employer. Include the video mentioned above, along with testimonials from your team, a short and enticing description of what it is like to work there and how you support your team. Add in benefits if you offer them, and anything else that showcases you as an Employer of Choice. Look at other Careers and About Us pages to get ideas.
  • Order any shirts, signs or other supplies you need
  • Add the Employment Brand Marketing process to your annual planning
  • Keep doing the following: Post on chosen social media channels based on your social media calendar but be open to pivoting based on current events; Write and distribute your Employee Spotlight to your website, email marketing, and social media based on your chosen schedule; Schedule and attend any events or volunteer opportunities you identified; Do a quarterly check-up on your EBM plan, what is working, what is not?

Hire

With everything in place you will be ready to hire your RIGHT FIT™ as soon as you hit submit on your next job posting!

If you would like to learn more, please reach out, we would love to talk about how we can help!

 

Erin Longmoon is the CEO of Zephyr Recruiting, which she founded in response to her clients’ needs for help in with building effective and successful teams. Zephyr Recruiting serves the small business community—the mom and pop places that are the backbones of our communities and our economy.

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  • Next up: How Intellectual Property can Grow and Protect Your Business
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  • How Intellectual Property can Grow and Protect Your Business

    During this COSE webinar, attendees discovered the types of intellectual property and what it takes to obtain protection, as well as strategies for using IP to grow their businesses. Read on for more details and scroll to the bottom to view the full presentation.

    During a recent COSE WebEd Webinar, Mark Guinto, intellectual property attorney at the McDonald Hopkins law firm in Cleveland, gave an overview on intellectual property and how small businesses can leverage IP for success during a presentation titled “How to Use Intellectual Property to Grow and Protect Your Business.”

    Guinto explained how entrepreneurs can strategically protect ideas, brands and assets when it comes to IP, with the ultimate goals of positioning themselves for future success, increasing market share and growing their businesses.

    Types of IP

    You’ve seen Shark Tank, but what do we really mean when discussing intellectual property? There are four different categories to consider when talking about IP.

    Patents protect the overall idea of your invention. For something to be patented, it’s required to be new and useful as deemed so by the United States Patent and Trademark Office upon filing. Bars to patentability might include not filing in time or not being able to prove that it’s novel. Benefits include preventing other companies from using your invention, keeping competitors out of the market, being able to license your invention to other companies, and it also helps you build your patent portfolio.

    Trademarks are your brand identifiers or source identifiers, such as the Nike Swoosh symbol. They are used to identify and distinguish the source of goods or services, and to try to build goodwill and brand awareness.

    Copyrights are rights in the expression of your idea, such as songs, books, articles, software code and advertisements your company creates.

    Trade secrets are any information, practices and know-how you keep within your own company and do not disclose to the world, like the Coca Cola recipe. Perhaps for you it’s how to operate a piece of equipment or coding practices you use.

    Legal Lingo

    In understanding the different types of intellectual property, it’s helpful to be aware of other relevant legal terminology, such as non-disclosure agreements, joint developments and licenses. 

    Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are agreements between companies to share proprietary information with each other with restrictions on use of such information. This type of document will most likely define what you can do with the information you receive and what the other party can do with the information you give them.

    Guinto advises that, before talking to a third party, you always look for an NDA. He says it’s important to coordinate with your sales team and reiterate to them to check for an NDA even if it’s a company you’ve been doing business with a long time. When in doubt about whether or not one exists or the details involved in it, be sure to contact legal assistance.

    Joint developments are agreements you create when your company and another company work together on developing a product. The joint development identifies who owns the IP—whether it’s one or both of you.

    Licenses can be granted from one party to another. You can give another company the right to use one of your inventions and they might pay you money in return. Licensing can be limited to a particular field, and royalties might be lump-sum or per unit.

    Action Steps

    There are three necessary action steps that a small business must take when it comes to moving forward with IP protections, according to Guinto.

    Action Step No. 1: Monitor the potential for new protections to determine whether it makes sense to file for protection on your IP.

    Action Step No. 2: Communicate with your engineers and sales team about your overall strategies and objectives for protecting your IP.

    Action Step No. 3: Because IP has a lot of moving parts and since laws can vary by state and country, it is necessary to stay in constant communication with your legal counsel.

    To File or Not to File?

    One particular area where a small business owner might be unsure if it makes sense to seek protection is with software code that their company has written. It’s important to understand that even if you aren’t successful in obtaining a patent, the information regarding your invention is nevertheless put out there to the public. So if you disclose your secret invention in an effort to receive a patent, hopefully you will, in fact, be granted a patent. But in the event you do not receive that sought-after protection, you will still be broadcasting the details of your secret invention.

    Code can and should be copyrighted with a patent office. But, when you’re dealing with code it changes so often that it is not usually cost effective to file for a copyright with each of these changes. Guinto advises his clients to launch major releases and get those covered with copyright, but to not seek it for each small edit.

    Because it costs money to get a trademark, you have to figure out if there’s going to be money in filing for a trademark. He advises that it might be a better idea to get protection for a family of products instead of for each individual product. Check out the full broadcast of this webinar by scrolling down past the disclaimer below.

    Disclaimer: The information provided in this seminar is general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance. An attorney and client relationship should not be implied simply by attending this seminar. Nothing in this seminar is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. Therefore, if you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. McDonald Hopkins invites you to contact the firm and welcomes your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting the firm or attending this seminar does not create an attorney-client relationship. Past results afford no guarantee of future results and every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

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  • Next up: How Small Businesses can Resolve Disputes Without Litigating
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  • How Small Businesses can Resolve Disputes Without Litigating

    All businesses will have an occasional dispute with a vendor, customer or other stakeholder. This is why businesses of all sizes should be interested in alternate dispute resolution, with an emphasis on mediation and, to a lesser extent, arbitration.

    In a recent COSE webinar, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman's David Schaefer explained why that is the case. Watch the recording below:

     

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  • Next up: How the COSE MEWA Promotes Health and Wellness
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  • How the COSE MEWA Promotes Health and Wellness

     

    For many small businesses, the current health insurance landscape provides limited choice and flexibility when it comes to offering your employees quality  healthcare coverage. To provide a competitive set of solutions for your company, COSE partners with Medical Mutual to offer the COSE Health and Wellness Trust, also known as the multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA). This MEWA was created based on the idea that being a small business doesn’t mean you can’t provide the same benefits of a larger company, such as competitive rates and a broad variety of plan options different than Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans.

    In addition to offering affordable health, prescription and specialty product options, Medical Mutual provides multiple resources and tools through the COSE MEWA to promote a healthy lifestyle. These wellness programs can help improve employee satisfaction and retention, while decreasing healthcare costs and employee absenteeism.

    Here are some wellness benefits your employees can enjoy as part of the COSE MEWA:

    1. Wellness Portal – Through the Wellness Portal on Medical Mutual’s member website, My Health Plan, employees can learn about a variety of health and wellness topics, enroll in your health plan’s wellness or disease management program (if applicable) and receive reminders about needed care. Interactive tools are also available to help employees set and achieve wellness goals, such as eating healthier, managing stress and quitting tobacco.

    2. Fitness Discounts – Tired of expensive gym fees? Through Medical Mutual’s Fitness Discounts Program, your employees can save money on memberships to local and national fitness clubs.

    3. Quitline Program – Medical Mutual’s QuitLine is available to help tobacco users give up the habit for good by providing one-on-one coaching, a personalized quit plan and educational materials. In addition, nicotine replacement therapy is available to maximize their chances of quitting.

    4. WW® (formerly Weight Watchers) Programs – To help employees eat healthier, increase movement, lose weight and develop a positive mindset, Medical Mutual offers two opportunities to lower the cost of participating in a WW program:
    a. Reimbursement of up to $150 in enrollment fees per calendar year for attending Workshops in the Workplace (formerly At Work Meetings).
    b. Up-front discounts of almost 50 percent off standard membership rates when enrolling in a Digital, Digital+Studio or WW for Diabetes program. 

    5. Health Assessment – Completing the Health Assessment through the Wellness Portal can help your employees understand their overall health status and identify risk for certain chronic diseases. Based on the results, employees can receive a personalized set of recommended behavior changes to improve their wellbeing. 

    6. Healthy Outlooks Articles – You can elect for your employees to receive Medical Mutual’s publication that offers articles on a variety of important health issues. Healthy Outlooks provides consumer health plan education and tips for accessing different services available through Medical Mutual.

    For more information on the various COSE MEWA product offerings, please contact your broker or Medical Mutual Sales representative. 

     
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  • Next up: How to Avoid a Giant Bill by Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
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  • How to Avoid a Giant Bill by Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

    Follow these helpful tips to help your business avoid all of the extra taxes and penalties that go with misclassifying employees.

    If a worker is misclassified, your company could be liable for an enormous bill for back employment taxes plus penalties, interest and legal costs. In assessing whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the IRS has concluded that such a determination revolves around control.

    First, if your company is exercising behavioral control over a worker by dictating when and where to do work, the sequence in which to perform the work, and providing training regarding required procedures and methods, that worker should most likely be classified as an employee. Second, if you are in financial control of a worker by directing the financial and business aspects of a worker’s job, they are also more likely to be an employee.

    Below are 10 helpful tips that will help ensure that you’re not treating your independent contractors like employees.

    1. Don’t closely supervise the independent contractor or their assistants.
    2. Don’t let the independent contractor work at your office, unless the nature of the service they’re providing requires it.
    3. Don’t give the independent contractor employee handbooks or company policy manuals.
    4. Don’t establish the working hours.
    5. Don’t provide ongoing instructions or training.
    6. Don’t provide equipment or materials unless it’s necessary.
    7. Don’t pay for travel or other business expenses directly.
    8. Require independent contractors to sign documentation stating that they are not entitled to, and will not seek, unemployment benefits, and don’t provide any other form of benefits to them.
    9. Don’t provide business cards or stationary with your company’s logo for the contractor to use or distribute.
    10. Require that they submit invoices for their time and expenses and pay them like a vendor, as opposed to weekly or biweekly.

    Ending the relationship

    There is not a single rule or test for determining whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee, but these tips highlight factors which have been considered by the courts in worker classification cases. In addition to these 10 tips, it’s also important to note that how the relationship can be ended might determine status. The ability of a worker to terminate the relationship with your company at any time he or she wishes without incurring liability indicates employee status. To avoid this, you should consider documenting an exit protocol to the contrary (for example, requiring 30 days’ written notice of termination between your company and any independent contractor).

    If you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure of how to classify a worker, you can request an IRS determination by filing Form SS-8, “Determination of Employee Work Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.” However, be cautious to the fact that the IRS usually classifies workers as employees whenever it’s not clear-cut what their status is. Further, employers that request such a determination lose protections against liability for misclassification. Filing Form SS-8 without talking to an attorney is not recommended.

    It’s important to not only be aware of the distinctions that exist between employees and independent contractors, but also to be conscious of them always. If you’re not careful in how your treat independent contractors, you’ll likely find yourself handing over a wad of cash to Uncle Sam instead of to your next big project!

    For more information on this topic, contact Alex Gertsburg at 440-571-7775 or ag@gertsburglaw.com.

    Get more legal tips for your business on The Gertsburg Law Firm blog, with new articles every week. 

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  • Next up: How to Balance Recreation and Liability When Planning a Company Social Event
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  • How to Balance Recreation and Liability When Planning a Company Social Event

    Putting on social events for employees is a great way to boost morale and increase staff retention. But there could be legal ramifications to these events. Here are some points to consider.

    Good work culture tops most employees’ wish lists (and most employers’, too), especially in a time when employers must compete by offering remote jobs, freelancing, and other worker-centric setups. Company social events such as holiday parties can promote a winning work culture. But mixing business with pleasure comes with risks: successful company events invite an element of social life, as well as the risk of social pitfalls that may be inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal.

    Forewarned is forearmed

    Employers and their HR teams must be aware of the risks and potential liabilities associated with company events to protect themselves and their employees.

    The most prevalent risk comes from inappropriate social interactions, namely, sexual advances among co-workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment by an employer, including conduct that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe or pervasive. Though the Act offers no protection as between workers, an employer who fails to provide a safe work environment can run afoul of this federal law.

    Dangerous conduct by employees creates the risk of physical damage to person or property. When an employee is injured at a company event, he or she may have recourse against the employer for unsafe work conditions. An injured third party may also be able to sue an employer for an employee’s actions under Ohio’s social host or dram shop laws or other legal theories, such as the doctrine of respondeat superior (let the master answer).

    Often overlooked, loss of good will is a serious matter and is more likely to happen to employers with undeveloped social media policies. Social media gives employees a platform to post company party interactions, both good and bad, and negative publicity can tarnish any company’s reputation.

    Neutralizing the alcohol factor

    Unsurprisingly, the greatest contributor to risky behavior is alcohol. If you decide to permit alcohol at your company’s social event, consider taking the following steps to mitigate risks associated with alcohol:

    • Distribute drink tickets or set a drink limit for attendees.
    • Skip the liquor—limit drink selection to “softer” alcohols like wine or beer.
    • Make it a cash bar.
    • Close the bar early to limit access to alcohol.
    • Ask bartenders and/or supervisors to be on the lookout for intoxicated attendees.
    • Arrange for transportation to and from an event.
    • Incentivize employees to be designated drivers.
    • Provide hors d’oeuvres to curb alcohol consumption.
    • Limit attendance to 21 and over.

    Accounting for venue

    Incidents are more likely when company events are held off-site. This is due in part to preconceived standards of behavior in a familiar work setting, given that employees are used to behaving professionally in the office. However, keeping things in-house does place a bigger burden on the employer to monitor alcohol consumption and other activities.

    For company socials held on-site, consider hiring a professional bartender or food vendor, and assign supervisors to monitor the festivities. For outside venues, be sure to choose one that sends the right message about the type of event it will be. Consider choosing a restaurant instead of a karaoke bar, for example. Always be sure to confirm that all venues and service providers have the proper licenses.

    Another good way to set standards is with an appropriate dress code. A black-tie affair necessarily invokes a different atmosphere than a business casual event, and in most cases, a clear dress code can nip inappropriate or suggestive behavior in the bud. You should also have a keen eye for decorations, which should be neutral and considerate of the religious and cultural beliefs of your employees—especially during holiday parties.  

    Building the guest list

    First and foremost, employers can avoid the risk of workers’ compensation and/or wage and hour claims by drawing clear distinctions between social events and employment functions. Employers should make it clear to employees that there is no work purpose for the social event and that attendance is always optional. Toward that end, employers should try to schedule events outside of normal work hours and avoid talking business or handing out performance awards during the event.

    Employers should also consider whether to invite guests such as significant others, family members, or general plus-ones. A strictly in-house social lends itself to riskier behavior because of the obvious familiarity that already exists between attendees. A broader guest list, in contrast, can foster a more reserved, conservative dynamic which, in turn, may deter unwanted behavior.

    Employers should also strongly consider omitting their independent contractors from the guest list if the social event is “company only.” An employer’s everyday liability is generally higher for an employee than it is for a contractor, and the main distinction between the two boils down to how the employer interacts with its employees versus its independent contractors. In other words, inviting independent contractors to company events invites potential liability for misclassification of contractors as employees.

    Setting expectations

    Before company events, employees should be reminded that the setting will be social but still professional. Any well-written employee handbook will set this expectation as a matter of course.

    Event policies, for that matter, should be clear and consistent with all other policies. Social media policies, for example, should set consistent standards for posts related to or depicting alcohol and other potentially inappropriate media. To the extent that social media posts are fully public, employers may consider monitoring and requesting removal of posts that may suggest affiliation with the company but fail to adhere to its policies.

    More touch points can be an effective way for employers to reinforce expectations leading up to company events. For example, pertinent sections of the employee handbook can be recirculated to employees via email, or these policies can be discussed at regular meetings, or included on inserts that accompany paychecks.

    Investing in a failsafe: Insurance

    The best-laid preparations can still be undermined. Insurance should be a last line of defense against liability but it may be desirable, even if only for peace of mind. Employers might consider the following policies when budgeting for an event:

    • General event insurance—protects against losses due to injury or damage by insured’s employees or agents.
    • Liquor law liability insurance—covers insured against accidental furnishing of alcohol to underage or already intoxicated patrons.
    • Cancellation insurance—helps cover costs when an event must be cancelled for a variety of reasons.
    • Venue insurance—covers for damage to a location while it is under the insured’s control, effectively insuring against repair costs to the venue.
    • Hired/non-owned auto insurance—provides liability coverage for vehicles rented for the event, as well as auto-related injury or damage to third parties.
    • Employment practices liability insurance (“EPLI”)—covers businesses against claims by workers that their legal rights have been violated.

    EPLI can be a good catchall insurance that might protect employers from losses occasioned by activities that compromise a safe work environment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful discipline, and wrongful infliction of emotional distress, among others.

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for company social events. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional. Max Julian is an attorney at The Gertsburg Law Firm. Julian’s practice is focused on commercial litigation. He can be reached at mj@gertsburglaw.com or by phone at (440) 571-7541. The Gertsburg Law Firm blog has more than 80 articles on topics covering Employment Law, Consumer Law, and ways to protect your business.


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