Only 19 percent of employees see a strong match between how their company presents itself and the reality of the day-by-day working world, according to a survey conducted by KRC Research for sister firm Weber Shandwick.

The chasm between perception and reality exposes a reputational risk, making it harder to recruit talent at a time when engagement is weak.

The Employer Brand Credibility Gap - KRC Research for Weber Shandwick.

“A credible employer brand revolves around a compelling narrative that is authentic, recognizable and brings to life the actual experience employees have working at an organization, whether it is the culture, leadership, training, opportunities or communications,” Kate Bullinger, WS executive VP-global lead, employment engagement & change management, said in a statement.

The survey, The Employer Brand Credibility Gap: Bridging the Divide, covered 1,902 full-time workers in 19 global markets.

It finds opportunity to build credibility by targeting the 74 percent of respondents identified as "marginally aligned" workers that are open to changing their perceptions about their company.

Companies that enjoy a robust alignment between employer brand and employee experience benefit via better recruitment, stronger employee advocacy, greater retention and increased productivity, according to the survey.

Weber Shandwick believes the branding process begins with "understanding an employer’s current reputation in the talent marketplace and defining what it wants to be known for and stand for in the future."

Clients must complete an internal audit "to ensure they are walking the talk," which includes making key changes to the employee experience so the company can deliver on its values and promises.

“The findings from our study call into question the credibility of many employer brands," said Bullinger "Employers have to strive for greater accuracy and authenticity in describing themselves and activate employees – their most credible spokespeople – as their storytellers and advocates if they are to earn the trust of prospects and employees.”