How To Build Your Employer Brand In A Pandemic
Since March last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to confront a reality that puts their businesses to the test. One has to admit, that it has NOT been business as usual since then, and the current business outlook also seems quite unpredictable. Many are faced with tough decisions like layoffs, furloughs, freezing of benefits, cuts in salaries, canceling of college internships, and minimal to zero wage increases. With this backdrop, what happens to the company's employer brand? Does that even matter when business growth and budgets are squeezed?
The 2020 report on Employer Branding by Randstad states that 91 percent of companies believe that employer brand and reputation can impact revenue. And there is enough evidence to show that it does. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, in an interview with CNBC’s “Markets In Turmoil”, highlighted that - How companies respond to this pandemic is going to define their brand for decades. So, YES, your employer brand does matter, even in a pandemic!
In these tough and uncertain times, companies should continue to build and sustain a strong employer brand through effective, transparent, and relevant communication.
Here Are 3 Tips To Help:
Tip 1: Be True To Your Employee Value Proposition
An Employee Value Proposition (EVP), simply put, is the tangible and intangible value or benefits that an individual can expect to receive when they associate with your company. It is very similar, yet different from a Brand Value Proposition, in that it must be rooted in real, lived "Human experiences" of current employees. They in effect are your brand ambassadors who speak in favor of or against your employer brand.
Hence, in times of crisis, decisions relating to employee well-being, health benefits, leave relating to COVID-19, and other policies that directly impact the 'Human experience' of the employees, need to be taken keeping in mind your EVP. Communication around this needs to be carefully crafted and leaders must align, understand, and be coached to deliver messages that reinforce your EVP messages.
A 2017 study by Career Arc showed that millennials are 2.5x more likely than Gen-Xers to share negative views of past employers on social media.
It is in a crisis that you must be transparent and honest in all your communications with employees. Affected employees are bound to talk about it on social media, either openly or anonymously. Adopting a frank and clear communications strategy will keep your employees informed and reassure them, that you are trustworthy.
If 'People' are at the core of your EVP, and you need to lay off employees, make sure you are doing all you can to ensure that they are taken care of in every way. If you do not display appropriate steps to ensure that you are taking care of the individual lives that are impacted, it might not resonate well with your employer brand. Also, communicate this with the unaffected employees as well as about the 'why' of the decision. All these steps help build an EVP of a caring employer.
Tip 2: Evaluate Your The Digital Messaging Strategy
The pandemic has increased the number of hours individuals spend online and on digital platforms. A study on employer branding by Hinge states that most Active job seekers use LinkedIn, and Glassdoor to search for jobs and to learn about the company. Employers need to ensure that they are not only sharing messages that align with their employer brand but also aligned with the current scenario. The current situation has offered you a moment to review your current employer brand messaging approach and to make the necessary adjustments and tweaks.
In this pandemic, companies need to be mindful of both 'optics' and 'tone of voice' with their employer branding.
Tone of voice - Align your recruitment and culture posts to reflect the times. For Example, it might not be the best time for you to put up cheerful, fun-loving, recruitment or culture posts, especially when there is a flurry of bad news. You might consider posts that project stability, security, and hope.
Optics/visuals - Every post, ad, or video should be filtered through a new lens of situational awareness. For example, with everyone at home, displaying pictures with your team having fun at work won’t be a great idea. It might be more encouraging to put up positive, upbeat imagery associated with collaboration, communication, and team-oriented work environments.
It is important to consider the overall scenario and be authentic. Which brings up the next tip.
Tip 3: Tell Authentic Stories And Create Relevant Content
This isn’t the time for extremely curated feeds with perfect quality pics. Step out of your comfort zone and share honest, unfiltered content. By focusing on the real struggles along with the wins, you make your employer brand more relatable to your audience.
Most individuals are stuck at home looking for inspiration to spend their time in a meaningful way. Interestingly, many are not always looking for a job, but are reading the news or on video streaming platforms. As the current state of quarantine and social isolation continues, individuals will find ways to protect themselves from media burnout. This might be an opportunity for companies to organize need-to-know information in one place that can act as a resource to their employees and other stakeholders. This could be as simple as creating and maintaining a blog or weekly newsletter. Check out the Amazon Dayone blog for some inspiration.
Stories about (and perhaps even told by) employees are also a great way to share information about your culture with your audience. Consider sharing positive and inspiring messages, real incidents as well as practical advice from employees on staying safe and healthy in this pandemic. Employer branding is about engagement and having true ambassadorship from people already working with you. A positive and safe work culture, showcased by your own people, will help your organization shine through.
These are unprecedented times, and there is no playbook to help us navigate through this storm. But, the three tips mentioned above, should help you to stay competitive and relevant in a crowded landscape.
You may not be hiring today, but we know this won't last forever. A time will come when you will need to attract top talent. Until then, all this investment in your employer brand will reap dividends, when you start hiring.
Get in touch with us if you need help with EVP or employer branding strategy and messaging.