In this article you will learn what storytelling is, why you should use it for your employer branding and get techniques and practical tips to spread your stories externally and internally.
The path from trainee to manager. Weaknesses in the company that were successfully remedied – a project that celebrates special successes. This is what we want to read when it comes to authentic information gathering around the employer. We want to connect with the future employer. We want tangible values, REAL stories from employees and emotions. Storytelling is a popular way to meet this demand.
Storytelling is often used in product marketing, e.g. when introducing new lifestyle products. A story is told, with words, but also with pictures, movement and sound. Stories entertain, teach and pass on traditions and values. This is why storytelling is ideal for employer branding. Gustav Freytag’s pyramid model provides a good basis for building a story:
- Exposition: the situation is introduced, the place and time are set, and the protagonists are introduced.
- Rising action: the story develops, the protagonists are confronted with problems.
- Turning point: the climax is reached, the protagonist faces his greatest challenge.
- Decreasing action: The tension decreases, the story is nearing its end.
- Resolution: The story is concluded, all open questions have been clarified.
This is the classic structure of a story. Of course, it can be changed and expanded as needed.
Suspense as a success factor
Storytelling differs from pure advertising slogans in that it creates tension; this tension triggers cortisol and dopamine and keeps our attention for a longer period of time. In addition, stories stay with us longer. Oxytocin, which is responsible for the excitement of cute kittens or babies, triggers feelings of empathy, connection, compassion and trust. This is why storytelling is so well suited for employer branding.
More reasons for storytelling as an employer branding strategy
For some time now the, run-off-the-mill job ad “We are Hiring” has long been insufficient to recruit in the employer market, employer branding adapts and adapts product marketing concepts. There are several reasons why storytelling is a valuable tool for employer branding and should be in every employer branding strategy.
First, stories are a way to connect emotionally with people. A story about a company or its employees inside builds this bond. This can be an effective way to attract potential employees.
Secondly, storytelling is a way to create authenticity. People want to know that the company they (want to) work for is authentic and trustworthy. By putting themselves in the story, they can get to know themselves and the employee better and create an image of authenticity and integrity.
Finally, storytelling is a means to convey a sense of tradition and values. When a company tells its story, it can pass on the values that are important to it. These values can range from innovation and creativity to social responsibility and environmental awareness. If potential employees and customers see these values reflected in the company’s story, they are more likely to trust the company.
Techniques and opportunities
There are a number of internal and external ways to use stories to present the company as an attractive place to work. One approach is to build your story in the style of Gustav Freytag. Failures, challenges and successes must be included. The courage to take corners and edges is rewarded in storytelling, because, as we all know, no company is perfect.
Possible topics for your storytelling are:
- Founding story
Is there a founding story with challenges? The management can tell this story in a video, which could be used for the onboarding of new employees, for example.
- Project successes
Employees can write about recent project successes. However, attention should be paid to the approval process, also with regard to clients.
- Testimonials in onboarding
Employees can write about challenges in their onboarding, e.g. challenges in acquiring new knowledge for the job up to the first big project.
- Leadership skills
What are the company’s leadership methods? This is where team leaders can speak up. What challenges does the leader face? How do the employees benefit from the leadership style?
- Insights into everyday work
Presenting the daily work of employees in an appealing video is another possibility for storytelling. A job ticket is offered as a benefit – why not start the video directly on public transport?
- Corporate culture: e.g. Diversity & Inclusion
Of course, corporate culture can also be used for storytelling. To what extent does cultural diversity add value to the company? The company’s diversity measures can also be reported on.
Already during the recruiting process you can start telling your stories. Be it through videos, blog posts or verbally through the recruiter or HR manager in the interview. Stories from employees about their work in your company in job advertisements (preferably with a jump link) can be very convincing for potential applicants. Storytelling about the company culture and the values of the employer can be spread during onboarding, welcome days or in the first welcome emails to the new colleagues. Of course, internal communication is also important. The intranet, a staff magazine, networking events with success stories from projects, emails or company celebrations can be one of the many ways to provide a platform for storytelling. In addition, your stories can reach your target group via the careers page/blog, social media, job fairs and the like.
Getting stories from employees
There are several ways to collect stories from employees. Firstly, employees can be asked personally to submit their stories, or a call for stories can be published on the company’s intranet or social media. In larger companies, it is worthwhile to appoint a contact person, a kind of mouthpiece for stories from the respective location. In order to be successful in the long term, it is also advisable to select permanent employees who, as corporate influencers, regularly take on storytelling themselves and are given a time frame for this in addition to their day-to-day projects.
Employer branding storytelling is an effective tool for attracting top talent to your company. By using different techniques and strategies, great stories can be told that show what makes your company truly unique!
When do you start telling your story?
Miriam Rupp, Mashup Communications. “Storytelling für Unternehmen: Mit Geschichten zum Erfolg in Content Marketing, PR, Social Media, Employer Branding und Leadership, 2016
Gustav Freytag: Die Technik des Dramas, unveränderter Nachdruck, Darmstadt 1969