Lessons from NVIDIA’s employer branding wins

How the tech company’s storytelling and employee advocacy make it a destination employer.

If you’ve been on top of tech or business news lately, you’ve probably heard of NVIDIA. The longtime chipmaker became the most beloved kids on the Silicon Valley block over the past few years by powering some of the most cutting-edge tech of today, including many artificial intelligence applications. With stock that’s going through the roof and a valuation of around $2 trillion due to the demand for AI chips, it’s been quite the time for NVIDIA. But it’s not just the company’s skyrocketing stock that’s got people talking — it’s also NVIDIA’s emphasis on employee experience.

According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, NVIDIA is something of a dream job in tech circles. The company offers numerous perks to employees including an on-site bar, unlimited vacation, and two days dedicated to resting and recharging for all employees each quarter. Additionally, the fact that employees who own stock in the company have seen it shoot through the roof in value doesn’t hurt either – the company hit a $2 trillion valuation last week.

But it’s the upfront focus on culture that sticks out.

WSJ reports:

Candidates must be excited to innovate, “contribute to an agile environment and create a platform for others to do their life’s work,” a company spokeswoman said, adding that Nvidia continues to grow and hire as it expands in healthcare, automotive and other industries.

People who have spent time with the company describe an intense, but collaborative culture where expectations are high, even for early-career hires.

“It attracts the sort of people who are humble, have humility, but also are almost like rats in a maze,” said Debparna Pratiher, who worked in product management at Nvidia for two years before co-founding software company Quest Labs AI. “Just like running around looking for cheese, looking for the next project, looking for the next way to jump on things.”

NVIDIA’s rise as a destination employer didn’t come from nowhere, however—there’s a concrete strategy that led it to this point. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from NVIDIA’s employer branding strategy and see what we can learn.

Building the employer brand by telling the employee story

One of the best ways for an organization to tell its employer story is to put the narrative in the hands of the people who make up the company — the employees. A quick look at NVIDIA’s web page on company culture features quotes from current employees extolling the positive impact of the organization’s approach to work.

NVIDIA’s comms team understands that when you want to tell an employee story, you’ve got to hear from employees. A prime example of acting on this principle is found in an article on NVIDIA’s blog, titled “From Intern to Innovator: Securing the Future With Neha Hudait”. The blog succeeds in painting a positive employee story for a few reasons. First, it shares the journey of an employee who was once an intern and rose through the ranks at NVIDIA.

“In my initial discussion with my manager, it became clear that our values resonated with each other,” Hudait said in the post.  “At NVIDIA, it’s unique how leadership isn’t restricted by title or seniority. I have the autonomy to guide my team toward shared goals, whether it’s facilitating a business objective or mitigating a security threat. That’s not something that you expect to feel as an intern or new college graduate, and I felt that on day one.”

Second, and arguably more important from a recruitment and retention perspective, the piece explores the details of Neha’s career journey and her life outside the office to paint a fuller picture of her as a person.

“I enjoy Capture the Flag, a puzzle-like game where players need to find a key passphrase. This initially sparked my interest in cybersecurity, and it’s always fun to try to (safely) break things,” Hudait said of one of her spare-time hobbies.

If you want to give a fuller perspective on what your organizational employee journey is like, the solution is simple enough — ask your employees! At Ragan’s Internal Communications Conference last year, Microsoft Director of Marketing and Communications for HR Programs Jen Crum and Amy Morris, senior manager of employee communications and employer brand at Microsoft shared some advice on the best questions to ask employees to help them tell their stories. They included:

  • What do you value?
  • What’s the benefit of working at the company?
  • What’s the benefit of the benefit of working at this company?

If you want to boost your employer branding game, take a leaf from these top comms minds and NVIDIA — ask your employees about themselves and their honest experiences. The results you get will be an invaluable tool in positioning your company as a great place to work.

Appreciating the underappreciated 

Successful employer branding efforts find ways to showcase talented work from employees across all parts of the organization, not just the most popular or “cool-sounding” roles. NVIDIA does a great job of this as well. It’s highlighted in another blog post from the company, highlighting the work and workers behind NVIDIA’s Failure Analysis Lab. In the piece, one of the interviewees helped illustrate the impact of the team well in a flashy quote.

“If you think about every semiconductor company’s failure analysis lab as an NBA basketball team, NVIDIA’s group is the Harlem Globetrotters,” said Jonathon Elliott, a failure analysis engineer. “We’re doing all the trick shots that people think aren’t possible.”

When you’re able to capture the experience of parts of an organization people don’t always think of, you can provide a much more holistic view of the employee experience. And that’s just really good employer branding.

This is easier to accomplish when comms communicates and collaborates well with other internal departments. In a panel at the 2023 edition of Ragan’s Social Media Conference, one of our panelists pondered how collaboration can manifest to improve employee experience comms.

“What one person can truly own employee experience?” said Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, senior director and head of talent attraction at Spectrum. “ Bringing together all your partners at the table is the way that you’re going to have the most successful program.”

NVIDIA is in the news because of its hot stock price and its prominent role in the technological advancements of the day. But don’t discount the role of positive employer comms in its reputational rise. NVIDIA is also a strong case study in how comms can make employer communication count.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


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