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Employer branding and COVID-19: More essential than ever

Attracting and retaining the best talent on the market is always a worthy pursuit – one that puts you ahead of your competitors and makes your business the best it can be. But after several months of economic uncertainty and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, employer branding has taken on a whole new significance and requires a whole different approach.

Why now?
First, let’s discuss why employer branding has arguably increased in importance for any organization over the last few months. While businesses go into survival mode, it may be tempting to prioritize other initiatives first in a bid to survive, but employer branding is more crucial now than ever for two main reasons:

1. It is a matter of survival – Maintaining a great employer brand right now means that you’ll be attracting and retaining the very best talent whose contributions will have a greater impact on the health and survival of your organization than they ever would in normal times. 

2. Don’t miss this opportunity – Times may be tough now, but nothing lasts forever. People will be coming back to work and looking for new career paths. By building up a strong employer brand now, you’ll be setting yourself up for success as soon as some semblance of certainty and security returns to the job market.

Things may look unclear, but employer branding can help you turn this immense challenge into a great opportunity. With so many being forced to cut back and keep a low profile, this is a great chance to stand out from the crowd

What’s different?
Employer branding hasn’t only become more important in recent months, however. The very nature of employer branding has shifted as people are stuck at home, more focused on social issues and asking big questions about themselves and life. So, how should you be building your employer brand in the age of COVID-19? Here are a few tips:

  • Be empathetic – If before coronavirus people were focused on good pay and opportunities for promotion, the shock of COVID-19 has people far more concerned about basic safety and well-being, both for themselves and society as a whole. Now is the time to show you care. Your social media and landing pages should focus less right now on your profits and business success and talk more about human beings and the impact your company and product have on people’s lives.
  • Be authentic – Polished photos, videos and marketing texts feel more disconnected than ever right now. People are adjusting to video conferences with dogs in the background, dressed in pajamas on pixelated screens. There is, of course, a balance to be found, so take care to remain professional, but sharing your company’s more vulnerable side can go a long way in how you’re perceived through this crisis.
  • Be transparent – Almost everyone is going through a tough time right now. Denying it, or putting on a brave face, will probably only create distance between your brand and talent in the market. Share your struggles to humanize your brand. If you’re one of the lucky ones and you aren’t struggling, share what you’re doing to help out.

    Now to the more practical:

  • Keep producing content – With so many people stuck at home, this is an unprecedented opportunity to reach people with good content. Get creative, make sure the messaging is on point, and grow your audience. 

  • Treat your employees and candidates better than ever – Times of crisis are the real test of who you are and how you treat people. If you are hiring, make sure the interview and onboarding experience is at its best to show you care for people. Reward your current employees for any extra effort they put in right now and make sure to take an active interest in their physical and mental health by enforcing social distancing, organizing social activities, opening a distress line, offering consulting services and more.

  • Be creative – Think about new initiatives that could increase awareness of your brand as an employer in a positive way. If you can afford it, launch a local effort to make masks, deliver groceries or offer some other kind of help. Hire a few newly-unemployed people for this community work.

  • Contribute to society – Sponsor volunteer activities for your employees like offering guidance to people who have lost their jobs or organizing food donations from the entire team.

    Crises like the COVID-19 outbreak have a tendency to feel overwhelming and intimidating. This probably isn’t the time to be expending a large budget on employer branding, but don’t give up on it completely. As soon as you address the most basic needs of your employees, they will do most of the work for you. They will feel proud and happy to be part of a company that really sees them, and at least some will spread the word. Now, more than ever, employer branding is an important tool for the health and survival of your company, as well as future success.
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