Having a strong employer brand will not be the cure-all to the challenges posed by Covid-19.
But this area should be a priority for any C-Suite or HR leader looking to successfully lead through arguably the biggest global crisis faced since World War II.
Now is the time to properly review, reinvigorate, and perhaps even reinvent your employer brand. Give it your full attention and throw your full weight behind crafting an employer brand that is reflective of the present environment, while also acknowledging the likely demands of future candidates and employees.
The good news is the potential rewards are great. And you do not need to spend significant amounts of time or money to see positive results.
In the United Kingdom, more than seven out of 10 private firms (71%) have furloughed staff in response to the economic impact of coronavirus. This adds up to approximately 6.3m people, or to put it another way, 20% of the UK workforce.
The British Chamber of Commerce has also reported that about 30% of these firms have sent home between 75% and 100% of their employees.
The employment picture is no less alarming across the rest of the world. The staggering effects of COVID-19 on the United States economy has resulted in millions of weekly unemployment claims.
In Europe, McKinsey has predicted a doubling in unemployment, ‘with up to 59 million jobs at risk of permanent cutback’.
COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact that is largely beyond our control. It is a global reset like no other in peace time.
But if you examine another set of interesting data from LinkedIn, it becomes apparent that proactive employer brand and communication teams are reacting to the current situation.
Reflecting wider societal shifts, communities are coming together. New forums are being formed, enabled by a growing suite of tools, such as video conferencing software. Employers have had to swiftly adapt their strategies to ensure they are effectively communicating.
Data from LinkedIn has shown that about 1 in 4 company posts reference coronavirus, with this rising to 50% of posts from businesses within the legal industry.
Interestingly, these posts are getting more engagement, specifically those focussed on how companies are helping.
The key point here is that not only are companies starting to react, this type of employer brand messaging is also beginning to resonate.
For example, the Asia-Pacific and North America has witnessed about a 50% uptick in engagement on posts that mention working from home.
Meanwhile, terms such as “health”, “health authorities”, “help”, “people”, “employees” and “support” are performing best as organisations of all sizes have moved to further showcase their employees and celebrate the heroic actions of those around them.
In short, the companies focussed on their putting their people and communities first are shining through.
I appreciate that this perhaps underplays where your key focus might lie in this moment. Employee relations, managing cost efficiencies and navigating a minefield of policy are just some of things likely to be taking up your time.
However, it is important not to think of employer brand only in terms of talent attraction or hiring, both of which may be taking a back seat.
How your company acts, what it says, what it does not say, and your holistic employer brand is always on show and up for review. Existing and future employees will be taking notice.
Which is why it is now so important to reconnect with your company’s ‘why’ and leverage the talent at your disposal in order to retain focus on your mission, purpose and EB.
Utilise the comms and HR professionals within your business. And start to answer some of the key questions:
The grand reveal. The big mission statement, The glitzy careers site. These are some of the components we often think about when launching or redefining an employer brand.
But the truth is – and given current circumstances – you might not have the time (nor possibly the financial resources) to go through such a wholescale exercise right now.
Therefore, it is important to be agile and alive to content opportunities:
The Talent Brand Alliance has put together some great practical advice on areas to focus on during COVID-19.
Make no mistake. Your employer brand dial with change, with or without your involvement. Therefore, each organisation has a choice.
Do you sit on the side lines or do you take advantage of a once in a generation opportunity to engage and attract the talent you desire?
Act now, before it is too late.
William Geldart is the Marketing Manager at BPS World, a global recruitment partner. BPS has produced an HR Resource Toolkit for HR leaders looking for useful information and inspiration on how to lead and manage through the COVID-19 pandemic.
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