Tapping into "Workism" Through Employer Brand

In today’s talent market, candidates are increasingly tying their identities to their work and employers. They’re no longer working to live, but living to work – posing an interesting opportunity for employers. In this blog, we discuss what workism is, as well as how employer branding can help organizations tap into this demographic of extremely engaged talent.

Brooke White, Senior Employer Brand Specialist Written by Brooke White, Senior Employer Brand Specialist

Riding the Wave of Workism: How Employer Branding Can Capitalize


The Atlantic defines workism as the belief that work is not only necessary to economic and material production, but also the centerpiece of one’s identity and life’s purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.

Essentially, it predicts that as long as our work-weeks consume majority of our waking hours, it will continue to be a core component of how we identify. In an article by The Atlantic, by Derek Thompson refers to work as somewhat of a modern-day religion.

The best-educated and highest-earning Americans, who can have whatever they want, have chosen the office for the same reason that devout Christians attend church on Sundays: It’s where they feel most themselves. “For many of today’s rich there is no such thing as ‘leisure’; in the classic sense—work is their play,” the economist Robert Frank wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “Building wealth to them is a creative process, and the closest thing they have to fun.”

So, what does this mean for employers?


Based on the 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey by Jobvite, almost half (42%) of Americans shape their identity based on their job or employer. Of those individuals, 65% report that work is “very important” to who they are as a person, where another 30% say it’s “somewhat important.”

These statistics offer an interesting opportunity for employers. When organizations can tap into, and stimulate this demographic, they’re able to access some of the most engaged talent in the market. And as we already know, engaged employees offer a competitive advantage to employers complete with an endless list of other benefits. To learn more about the benefits of engaged employees, take a look at our previous blog: What Is Employee Engagement And Why Should Organizations Care.


When organizations communicate their employer brand to candidates, it offers an opportunity for employees to develop alignment, creating a sense of belonging that reinforces their affiliation with the organization. According to Blake Ashforth, a leading expert in this field, an individual’s identity is comprised of the following elements:

  1. Who someone is
  2. What they value
  3. How they feel about things

Expanding on this, we can also look at their: values, goals, beliefs, traits, and knowledge, skills and abilities. When we compare these elements to components of an employer brand, we can see obvious opportunities to align:

Employer Brand Element 1: Core Values
When you are clear on your core values as an employer, you create an opportunity for candidates to build an emotional connection and sentiment towards your brand. A great example of this can be seen when organizations are explicit in how they value community involvement. According to Jobvite, 75% of workers consider it important to work for a company that supports charitable causes or gives back to a community. This is an example of candidates aligning their values and beliefs to that of an employer to make career decisions.

Employer Brand Element 2: Shared Commitments
Your organization’s shared commitments outline a code of conduct and a set of expected behaviors that unify the objectives of the organization. When we look at Ashorth’s elements of identity, an organization’s shared commitments relate directly to ‘who someone is’ as well as their ‘traits’.

Employer Brand Element 3: Employee Value Proposition
Lastly, the employee value proposition (EVP) acts as a promise to its employees when they join an organization. To align your EVP with candidates, it’s important to position these promises as an opportunity for your organization to help employees achieve their goals.

This becomes evident when we look at factors that candidates consider when looking for their next opportunity. According to Jobvite, career growth opportunities now rank number one on the list of most important factors when looking for new opportunities. To capitalize on this, employers can align their EVP promise in terms of opportunity to the career goals of candidates.


At the end of the day, the role of workism in today’s corporate environment only emphasizes the importance of employer branding for organizations.

If you want to attract and retain candidates who base their identity on their job or employer, you need to start by building and communicating an employer brand that resonates with their identities. By doing this, you’re able to tap into a market of talent who are engaged in their work, simply because it’s who they are and how they identify.