Communicating Your Employer Brand in a Crisis

Let’s be honest; the way we’re talking to each other and the content we choose to consume is quite different now to what it was at the start of this year. Tensions are high, and we’re all feeling a bit on edge which, without us realising, has completely altered the types of messaging we respond to. While previously we were living in a culture of sell, sell, sell this just doesn’t work for brands in times of crisis, as the truth is, we all have more important things to worry about right now.

The same rule applies to attracting talent and how employers should be communicating with potential candidates. When promoting your employer brand, you need to remember that priorities have changed. What your business does now and how you communicate it to your audiences will have lasting impacts on how you’re perceived as an employer.

New challenges are expected to appear in the hiring landscape over the next few months, which means new opportunities to refine your employer brand, and candidate experience will also present themselves. However, successful communication to both internal and external audiences is crucial for your employer brand to succeed in these trying times.

Here are our tips for changing the way you communicate your employer brand to connect with top talent:

Don’t stay silent forever

When this crisis started, many brands decided to stay silent for a while. This gave time to reflect; assess current attitudes and the situation before they decided what value they could offer or how their recruitment strategy would play out. However, sadly, brands can’t stay quiet forever. Eventually, people will notice your silence. In hard times, silence says more than a clear communication and audiences will come to all sorts of assumptions about your business if you don’t take the lead. 

Even if you can’t recruit right now, it’s essential to keep in touch with your audiences. Whether they’re existing candidates in a talent pool, people who are actively looking for roles in your industry or even employees that were hoping to see expansion; everyone is craving information and want to know about the state of employment. If the news isn’t particularly good, being honest and empathetic when you deliver it will have a positive reflection on your employer brand, earning you respect.

Provide support and reassurance

If you review content that brands are currently producing, you’ll find a strong focus on positive messages and practical advice. Make sure your messaging mirrors this. While you may not be recruiting, it doesn’t mean you can’t provide guidance for potential candidates as well as clients. Think about the skills it takes to thrive in your industry and centre your content around them. Show how you’re supporting employees as they work remotely or face additional risks coming into your place of work. Offer advice to similar businesses, providing ways to protect and engage staff during hard times. Even share light-hearted content like revealing secret recipes online will help you to reach and engage with audiences. Any information you can offer at this time will go a long way and will ensure you’re at the forefront of candidates’ minds when the time comes to recruit.

Try new ways of reaching people

Always wanted to try a Facebook Live? Thought about lending your expertise to a podcast series or webinar? There’s never been a better time to experiment! We’re all in lockdown, so you almost have a captive audience to test out your new material. As we consume more content online, there are even more ways to get creative, and if your content is valuable, there’s no reason not to give it a go. All brands, industry influencers and even celebrities are thinking of creative ways to produce content right now from the safety of their homes, so you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Plus, the more variations of your content out there, the more chances you have to reach and resonate with audiences.

Keep positive but be sensitive

When there is so much bad news around, it pays to spread some positivity. Ensure that no matter how scary your situation, you try and focus on the good side when it comes to communicating with audiences. Include messaging around what you are doing as a company to help the current situation, or to support the safety of your staff. Candidates and employees want to see you as a force for positivity and hope. During times of uncertainty, employees and job seekers look to leaders for all-important reassurance; so, promoting a negative outlook may create a poor perception of your employer brand.

Remember that everyone is facing difficulties right now, so while you remain positive, be sensitive too. Don’t brag too much about your achievements while other businesses may be struggling; sensitivity and consideration will get you everywhere in the current climate.

Give more context

If you’re lucky enough to be hiring, explain why. If you’ve seen an increase in demand because of COVID-19, making this clear will show that you’re helping the global effort in some way, enhancing your employer brand and encouraging individuals to consider working for you. If you advertise for vacancies that you’re desperate to fill with urgent, pleading language and no context, candidates may be concerned; what’s the rush, are people leaving? Use the fact that you can help during the Coronavirus crisis to your advantage and give people a reason to want to join you.

However, if a role has become available for another reason, you should remain clear and transparent. Even in a crisis, employees move on. Candidates are wary of employers right now, and if you act as though you have something to hide, it’s likely to harm your employer brand.

Get social

Research by IZEA Insights states that 66% of social media users are expecting their social media consumption to increase during coronavirus lockdown. If you’re not utilising these platforms to push your content, then you’re missing out. 

 As we’re all stuck indoors, we’re turning to our phones, tablets and laptops as our primary source of communication and entertainment. Now is the time to use social media as your audience is there waiting for you.

The various social media platforms are all great places to add some personality to your employer brand, showcase the human side and even add a bit of light-hearted fun. Plus, it’s easy for content to be shared so if you do something charitable for example, word will spread quickly. The more people that see the good deeds you’re doing or how your helping staff, the greater perceptions of your employer brand.

Engage Employees

Whether a company will make it through this period, depends partly on its existing employees. Anything that supports the engagement of employees is essential, so get them involved and showcase your team spirit to the world. We all know that it’s people that make a workplace what it is, and now in a time where we’re apart from our loved ones, that personal connection is more vital than ever. Celebrate your staff and the moments that you can come together as a team (virtually of course). It will help future candidates put faces to names, and it will improve the employee experience making your existing staff feel involved in the business.

Everything from internal surveys to improve your workplace to a weekly quiz will help engage employees and leave a positive reflection of you as an employer. Plus, happy employees will leave great reviews, recommend you to friends and family and paint a great picture of you; these referrals could end up reducing recruitment costs in the long run!

If you need assistance refining your recruitment messaging to resonate with audiences during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, our employer brand experts are ready to help. We can create recruitment marketing campaigns and help you to build a ready-to-hire talent pool even if recruitment isn’t your main focus right now.