Employer branding is rarely your priority in times of global pandemic, when most companies are dealing with major challenges, including budget cuts, reduced workforce and hiring freeze. But could it actually be the perfect time to build and amplify a solid brand image inside and outside the organization?
A vital asset: some facts
Employer branding was proven to be very important in the recruitment process in general. Glassdoor’s recent survey « 40+ HR and Recruiting Stats for 2020 » revealed that 79% of job seekers are considering a company’s mission before applying. More than half of employees find motivation in a company’s mission, and 64% attribute their company’s mission to the main reason they stay in their current jobs. These figures confirm how important it is that your employees not only know, but also understand and relate to the mission of your business. Do they find meaning in what they’re achieving in your company? We’ve seen in our previous article “5 winning strategies from resilient companies to bounce back after Covid-19” that an inspiring mission, reflecting your company’s culture and applied in every aspect of your business and management, is a major asset to keep a company afloat through tough times.
In addition, the study showed that 77% of job seekers also consider corporate culture before applying for a job – also confirmed in LinkedIn’s “Employer Brand Statistics report“. 73% of job seekers won’t apply to a company unless its values align with their own. Conclusion: hiring outstanding profiles requires a powerful employer branding. This gets particularly important in the engineering field. According to a study conducted by Korn Ferry, the labor-skills shortage in the tech sector should reach 4.3 millions workers by 2030. Great engineering and tech talents are precious as well as rare resources, especially with the job poaching phenomenon — competitors trying to steal aka « poach » your best employees. Finding them, attracting them and retaining them is no easy task as the war for talents is fierce. Yet only 55% of recruiting leaders worldwide have a proactive employer brand strategy. How will you stand out as an employer to gather the best team and keep your current employees satisfied? Time for action! If you thought that the Covid-19 would give you a break, think again: the crisis might actually be the best time — and opportunity — to strengthen your image towards employees and potential recruits.
Employer branding in a (post)-Covid world
A health crisis generates a lot of stress and a feeling of uncertainty for everyone. In such circumstances, how you manage your employees could define your brand for decades. Candidates want to work for a caring and supportive employer. On their side, customers will picture you as an ethical and responsible company. A company that is known for treating its employees well and taking care of their safety and wellbeing might shift their consumption patterns in the right way, while a bad reputation can push them away in a second. Still doubting about it? Just take a look at the Wetherspoons case: campaigns calling for a boycott were led after the pubs chain’s chairman refused to pay staff wages during the coronavirus lockdown.
Newton Talent’s figures reveal that only 43% of the respondents agree that their employer cares about their wellbeing. Always keep in mind: your employees are the mirror of your business and they are often customers as well. The trust they put in you and the way they feel at work will directly impact the way they work and the portrait they make of the company outside the office. At the end of the day, it could only result in boosting productivity and engagement rates.
Take the example of Home Bargains, the British discount retailer: along with the pandemic explosion in March, the chain quickly announced a £30 million fund to support staff who needed to self-isolate. At the same time, they started dedicating the first hour of opening each day to vulnerable and older customers. Finally, they encouraged stay-at-home bargains on their social media channels to encourage social distancing. On the website, the following statements were displayed: “Thank you for your amazing work during this unprecedented time. […] We want you to feel secure during this turbulent period, so we have created a £30m Coronavirus Fund to financially support you during the outbreak. […] ” Those initiatives were nationally praised, covered in the news and generated an extremely positive feedback on the brand. Not only has the company managed to put the safety of its staff first but it has also adjusted its practices to the best interests of its customers. A winning combo!
Sometimes, measures as layoffs, pay cuts and freezing benefits can’t be avoided. Let’s be honest: not every company, especially the small and recent ones, has the means to maintain staff during a crisis of this extent. The perception of these actions though will depend on how they are communicated and how much effort was put into preventing them. Transparency, from the very beginning of the crisis, is key. Your employees need a clear view of how the crisis is concretely affecting business and which actions you are undertaking to preserve their jobs as long as possible. By doing so, and if you really have no other choice than cutting headcounts, they at least understand why this is happening. They can acknowledge you gave them all the information and did everything possible to avoid this situation. Transparency and compassion will soften the impact on the employees having to leave but also preserve and strengthen the faith of those who stay.
To make a long story short, employer branding has always been important to fill and maintain your pool of talents but it should get even more powerful and strategic during crises. The pandemic will get to an end someday but the image you convey as an employer will remain. Whatever the budget and staff cuts you may be facing right now, you will need new talents someday as your activities will grow over time. The decisions you are making today and the energy you put in your employer brand — to preserve your employee’s safety, to increase their wellbeing, to preserve their jobs, to adjust your work practices and management, to keep your teams united, to communicate efficiently to your customers, to gather everyone around a clear and inspiring mission — all those efforts will have a lasting and positive impact.
Author: Sophie Vande Kerkhove – Content Manager