A guide to employer branding during a global pandemic

Employers

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These are uncertain and unprecedented times for everyone, including both employees and employers. However, one thing that certainly will make a difference to a business’ survival, when things do return to normal, is a company’s ability to pitch itself as somewhere that candidates still want to work and apply. 

The nature of employer branding will often differ depending on the industry and what potential employees value as important but, in any case, is essential in attracting the right kind of person to the right kind of job. 

Of course, there are definitely more important things happening in the world right now. However, this rare moment of complete pause gives businesses, and individuals, the perfect opportunity to reflect on the current state of their company. Are their employees happy? Could they be doing more? How can they attract new talent when this is all over? The work that they put into rebranding now could still have a positive impact in the future. 

This article will help to break down what employer branding is as well as how it can be improved, through things like employer value propositions, even during these times of global crisis. 

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What is employer branding?

Employer branding is an employer's reputation as a place of work. It is how your past and present employees speak about what it is like to work for you when explaining what they do to their family and friends. It is the image that you portray on your company’s Instagram. It is the rumored, or accurate, associations that spring to mind when someone mentions that they work for a particular company.

All organisations will have their own employer brand whether they plan to or not however, a business does have the power to control how their organisation is perceived in the outside world by improving their branding strategy. 

However, in this age of online sharing, social media and Glassdoor reviews, satisfied employees are often a company’s best chance at having a good reputation. This means that organisations, first and foremost, should treat their employees well and instill their company’s core values from day one if they want their own employer branding to be genuinely successful. 

How important is employer branding?

The bottom line is that employer branding is very important. A company is able to stand out from other similar organisations if their employer branding strategy is strong. It also gives businesses a unique advantage when it comes to attracting the most talented employees as a solid branding strategy will encourage more candidates to apply. After all, everyone wants to work somewhere that they have heard treats their employees well or that comes with cool perks instead of somewhere that does nothing to help their employees. 

Along with helping to recruit new candidates, employer branding is important as it can help to create a stronger company culture, and can even improve productivity among current employees. The good news is that employer branding strategy can always be improved upon so any business does have the potential to attract and hold onto the best people. 

What is an Employer Value Proposition (EVP)? 

An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at work. It should also represent an organisation’s mission, core values and work culture. Ultimately, it gives employees a reason to want to work for you and, if communicated effectively, can help to improve your company’s overall employer branding strategy. 

A strong EVP can not only attract the best people; it can also help to prioritise goals company-wide, help to motivate a healthy corporate culture, and even reduce hiring costs in the future. 

Ultimately, employees will be doing most of this branding work for a company, by giving your company a (good or bad) reputation, so it is important to make sure they are genuinely happy. This means that an employer that truly cares about the wellbeing and satisfaction of its employees should think carefully about what it is that the organisation stands for when constructing its own EVP. 

They should consider what their current employees value and how they can help to make the organisation somewhere that their employees are proud to work. They might ask their current employees what swayed them to accept their job offer or consider what would be important to them if they were in a potential candidate’s shoes. 

Some of these benefits might include: 

  • Strong core values and fun work culture
  • Convenient office location(s) and accessible facilities 
  • Management style
  • Potential for career development and promotions 
  • Well-regarded company in the industry/marketplace 
  • Encourages a healthy work-life balance
  • Offers job benefits i.e. health or dental insurance and vacation days
  • Job perks i.e. catered lunch, gym access, childcare, petcare
  • Flexible working
  • Environmental policy
  • Corporate social responsibility/charity work
  • Company growth rate
  • Technology 
  • Opportunities for travel and to build a network 
  • Job security
  • Compensation 

These rewards will largely differ depending on the type of organisation but will be relevant for any employer to consider when thinking about their reputation and branding strategy. 

What does strong employer branding look like?

One of the most important aspects of employer branding is engagement and communicating with both past, present and future employees. For example, a strong employer branding strategy might include keeping a company’s audience updated about interesting industry insights via a weekly newspaper or through the company’s social media pages. 

Where relevant, organisations should always be posting online content that reflects the company’s ethos, values and culture. An outsider looking in should be able to get a good sense of what it is like to work somewhere based on what they are posting online. Also, when applying for a new job, social media channels are often an individual’s first interaction with a brand so it is important that these online portals accurately, and positively, reflect what a company stands for. 

Furthermore, employers should always encourage applications whether there are open job roles or not. This will mean that a company will continue to receive interesting profiles and connect with candidates for openings in the future. Many potential employees would be more than happy to have a short phone call and be listened to by a future employer - as you never know what something could lead to! 

A good reputation, when it comes to employer branding, will also include candidates that are unsuccessful with their job applications. Most people will be able to respect an employer more, even if the answer is no, if they follow up with a short email explaining their decision as well as providing feedback on how they could improve their application for the future. 

After all, there is nothing worse than giving an application and interview so much of time and effort to receive absolutely nothing back in return. The smallest thing really can make the world of difference when it comes to how someone perceives your business in the future and will help give an organisation’s hiring process a better reputation in general. 

How might the current global pandemic impact employer branding? How can employers adapt?

The current global pandemic has changed life in more ways than we could have possibly imagined even just a few months ago. Many people will now be working from home and find themselves lacking the same sense of purpose and feeling heightened levels of anxiety than they did before. This is where employer branding can help to positively impact employees’ mindset. 

This period of uncertainty can negatively affect our mental health so it is imperative that a company continues to be transparent and honest with its current employees. For example, a good employer will make its employees feel safe and assure them that they are doing all that they can to protect them during these unprecedented times. If employees feel like they are being looked after, they are also more likely to stay on with the company once the world has returned to a sense of normality.  

Employers should also support their employees working remotely so they feel less anxious and can be more productive at home. This may include providing extra technical support or, for example, could be something more emotional like pointing out individuals’ achievements, successes and spreading messages of encouragement in a regular email chain or externally via relevant online channels. 

Working from home can be lonely for some; especially for those who are more accustomed to the routine of going into an office everyday. To combat this sudden change in lifestyle, employers could organize virtual meet-ups or regular meetings to give employees a sense of social normality back. Additionally, webinars, on relevant and useful topics, can be a great way to continue to share knowledge and regularly engage with an audience within the company and beyond. 

Another important part of employer branding is harnessing a sense of team spirit. Difficult times will often help to bond people together, so good communication and leadership are key. People will be missing daily human interaction and chatting to their work colleagues every day. For the sake of creating a healthy work balance and the idea that we are all in this together - even if employees are working from home - employers should organise regular bonding activities online. 

These activities could look like a weekly Friday night “Happy Hour”, having a Zoom lunch together a few times a week or even encouraging employees to have a coffee or tea together over Skype! It might even be as simple as asking everyone to send a small personal update to their team at the end of each day or getting everyone to tune into the same Instagram Live workout. This will also help to ensure that things won’t feel strange or unfamiliar when things do return back to normal. 

Most importantly, however, a good employer should be motivating their employees to look after themselves both mentally and physically. They might suggest employees take regular breaks to exercise, walk or just breathe. It can be difficult for those who are not used to working from home to adjust and separate between home and work life so it is important to support employees where they can and whilst they find their new routine. 

Even though many will not be looking to hire for the time being, companies can still continue to work on their branding strategy to potential candidates during this time of crisis. They should promote the freeze in the hiring process as a way of thinking of the wellbeing of the candidate first. For instance, they should encourage the idea that health is most important above everything else, including finding a new job, and by doing so, they will demonstrate that the organisation cares not just about keeping their business going but also the people that want to work for them. 

Employer branding is an important aspect of any organisation or business. Potential and current employees should consider what is important to them when it comes to their place of work and employers should want to create a culture that attracts and retains the best candidates. 

The current pandemic crisis will no doubt have an impact on employees but it should be an employer’s duty to ensure that things carry on as normally as possible. Employers can look to the future, when it comes to hiring new employees, by thinking about creating a brand that is as strong as possible.