10 awesome employer brands (and what makes them great)

As the world becomes increasingly connected and the jobs market gets ever more competitive, the employer brand is now a critical part of the hiring and retention process.

To summarise, the employer brand describes an employer’s reputation as a place to work, and their employee value proposition, as opposed to the more general corporate brand and customer reputation.

The importance of strong employer branding is highlighted in Randstad’s latest employer brand research global report, stating that whilst money is of course important in the hiring process, other factors such as work/life balance, job security, and work environment all play a major part in candidates choosing their next company.

Whilst the term itself is only around 30 years old, studies analyzing the relationship between employer branding and business success have seen interesting correlations. LinkedIn’s analytical summary found that organizations with great employer brands can see a 28% reduction in turnover and a 50% cut in hiring costs. For most companies, this equates to annual savings entering the millions. This headline-grabbing research was supported by the Randstad study, which found that a staggering 86% of people would not consider applying to or continue to work for a company that has a bad reputation with former employees or the general public.

To further explore what makes a successful employer brand, we’ve taken a closer look at 10 firms that put as much energy into attracting and keeping their staff as they do their customers.


We reckon it’s fair to say that at the Employer Brand Management Awards 2019, SAP cleaned up. It either won or took a gold standard rating, in five categories including “Best alignment of the employer value proposition with corporate brand values”, “Best employer brand innovation” and “Best employer brand management from the technology, media, and telecommunications sector”.

Even when it wasn’t winning, it was more often than not making an appearance as a runner up or highly commended entrant. No surprise then that it went on to take the Gold award for ‘Grand Prix of employer brand management’…so what is it doing so well?

SAP’s big tips when it comes to creating an employer brand are to be authentic (vital for employee advocacy), to listen carefully to employees and to be genuinely prepared to take action on the strength of what they’re saying. There’s a strong emphasis on employees bringing their whole self to work, a sentiment it expresses as ‘Bring everything you are. Become everything you want’. The company gets its ethos out there in all kinds of creative ways.

As well as an employer brand channel #LifeAtSAP!, it works closely with universities to connect with and nurture young talent. The company’s also a big believer in being willing to be unorthodox in how it tells its story: SAP’s a big fan of sharing its stories via cartoons!


Salesforce is currently ranked number 1 in the 2019 UK’s Best Workplaces Awards (in the Great Place to Work’s Super Large (1,000+ employees) category). It’s also taken awards for the Best Workplace in Tech and for Excellence in Wellbeing.

Just take a look at some of the comments employees have made about Salesforce and you start to get an idea of why the enterprise software company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, is so well regarded by its employees. Opportunities to continuously learn. Supportive management. The chance to try out different roles. An open, friendly and welcoming culture that’s built on trust. A place where balance and flexibility are key.

This isn’t a company that’s simply saying the right things, it’s doing them too and earning the respect and appreciation of its employees as a result.

Equal Experts

Glassdoor has global software consultancy Equal Experts ranked 2nd on its Best Places to Work 2020 UK (employees’ choice) list. So what is it that employees, and its extensive associate network, love about the company that led to it achieving such a high position?

It puts a lot of emphasis on skills and knowledge, seeking to take on people with substantial experience who are able to operate with minimal management in the flat structure. The knock-on effect is that it creates a substantial amount of autonomy for people who work for the company. The fact that the environment is low on politics and high on freedom to innovate is appreciated by those who work there.

People who are attracted to work for the company tend to be those who want to do a great job in an uninhibited way and Equal Experts is one example of a company that’s managed to achieve exactly that ethos.


When you’re talking best employer brands, a name that frequently crops up is Zappos.

The company’s used social media to great effect, bringing the workplace to life on platforms like Instagram and Twitter through its @insidezappos and @zapposculture handles. The company’s had a lot of success engaging people outside the company by giving them authentic and ongoing insights into what it’s like to work inside it by encouraging employees to share pictures and videos of what they’re getting up to at work.

Not only is there an emphasis on fun and positivity though, but it’s also become known as a company that places real value on giving back to communities through activities like Zappos for Good. All this engagement’s helped to cement the company’s reputation as a great brand to work for.


Topping the Glassdoor Best Places to Work 2020 US (employees’ choice) large employer category is Hubspot. The software company creates marketing and sales products for businesses globally; given the fact that Hubspot is so involved in helping other businesses get their employer brand right, it’s not that surprising it’s a leader when it comes to its own.

It’s a company with a reputation for being supportive, inclusive, cohesive and autonomous. It clearly articulates the values it stands for and offers an array of perks that are linked closely to those values. Self-improvement is heavily promoted and there are extensive development opportunities on offer.

Hubspot knows it’s a great place to work and is happy to shout out about it. More tellingly, so are the company’s employees who are enthusiastic brand ambassadors and more than happy to advocate it as an amazing place to work.


Google receives 3 million resumes a year – so it’s fair to assume it’s doing something right with its employer brand!

Given its positioning as a company that’s known for being innovative and fearless, it’s not surprising it’s a magnet for top talent. But while it’s great to say you work for Google, gravitas only goes so far, and the company readily acknowledges the need to deliver a consistently positive day to day experience and environment for its employees.

Google’s invested a lot into research on culture and the impact of the working environment. Its research has highlighted the importance of an emotionally safe environment where employees know what they do has meaning and impact, and where they can rely on each other to deliver high-quality work. This ethos has filtered into the way that Google works; along with the great job content and fantastic career development opportunities you’d perhaps expect, looking after employees and promoting personal fulfillment have become essential elements of the employer brand.

John Lewis

Despite tough times in retail and on the high street, there are some brands that have managed to consistently remain popular as a place to work. John Lewis is one of them.

Known as a relatively secure employer (as far as any company can be in an increasingly VUCA world) with a good reputation for treating employees well, it’s managed to stay at the higher end of the great place to work lists over the past few years. It was named as the UK’s most attractive employer in 2016 and while it hasn’t always been able to hold on to the top spot, it still continues to be viewed very positively.

Part of its ongoing employer branding success can be attributed to its profit-sharing arrangement with its partners (employees) as a way to encourage a unified team that is able to feel part of the company’s success. And despite having to actually cut bonuses over the years because of ongoing tough times in retail, the sense of team still holds true and John Lewis continues to be regarded with affection by employees.

Social Chain

When the company was founded in 2014, founders Steven Bartlett and Dominic McGregor wanted to create somewhere that people would love coming to every day. The trailblazing integrated social media agency places a premium on the happiness of its predominantly millennial employee workforce – including hiring a Director of Happiness and People. It’s investing heavily in finding ways to support employee wellbeing and mental health: Bartlett and McGregor are both outspoken advocates on LinkedIn about the importance of mental health in the workplace.

There’s a real emphasis on positivity, and it has a culture where achievements are celebrated, employees are trusted and everyone is praised for the contribution they make. Amongst the various elements of the package on offer are unlimited holidays and a ‘see the world’ policy. The environment’s designed to be fun but offers quiet spaces for those who need to step away from time to time.

While the final line of their values might not be expressed in the most conventional of ways, the point is clear: Social Chain cares about its employees and its Glassdoor reviews suggest it’s appreciated by them.

Capital One

Making its way onto the Top 15 Best Places to Work list in the UK last year was Capital One. The company has put a lot of effort into achieving a friendly no-blame workplace by offering employees flexibility within a relaxed-feeling environment: not necessarily something that’s easy to achieve in such a highly regulated industry.

It’s worked hard to create an open and transparent culture, acknowledging it’s as much about sharing the challenges the business faces as it is about celebrating the good times.

And while, by the admission of the UK HR Director Mike Lynch, the company doesn’t generally think cool or quirky when it comes to the range of perks available, it does still have its moments including mindfulness and music rooms in Nottingham and a 150m running track and bar on the rooftop of its London office.


Greggs is a great example of a brand campaign that’s achieved really positive publicity. That goes for its sales and as an employer too, where it’s looking increasingly more appetizing to work for (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves there).

The company’s enjoyed sales growth in its more established products but has also had a really successful launch of its latest product, the vegan sausage roll. In fact, it’s gone so well that the company was able to give all staff a bonus thanks to the sales and profits boost it resulted in.

Read more: 20 companies leading the way when it comes to employee perks and benefits

Greggs values the connection between creating a great place to work for employees and how that shapes the customer experience. From dedicated employee health and wellness initiatives and action on mental health to supporting communities via The Greggs Foundation and an emphasis on helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds, it’s increasingly become regarded as a highly ethical employer. In fact, generally, the company attracts many positive comments as an employer and is also ranked as one of the best places to be interviewed.