During this time, the role of leaders is more vital than ever. COVID-19 will present defining moments for many businesses and the people driving them forward. Some organizations have done amazing things to support their employees and the community. Others have overlooked the importance of employee safety or rushed to take extreme cost-cutting measures to survive. The coronavirus crisis will continue to test us all, but now employers need to think long-term and ask some important questions: Is your business ready to succeed in a changing world? Do you have what it takes to retain loyal employees as well as attract the talent you will need for the future? How can you embrace remote working in the future?
The world is starting to get back on track. I’ve spoken to many senior leaders over the last few weeks who are preparing for life after this crisis. We’re about to enter a very different world; businesses will operate differently; job roles will be altered, and most of all, attitudes will be transformed.
Studies are showing that employees are already nervous about returning to the office, with 54% of Americans claiming theywant to keep remote work as their primary mode of work, and 70% saying they’d like it to at least be an option. Employers must think about how they promote themselves in this transforming world and start to carefully manage the messages they put out to employees who want to know they will be safe and secure. The outdated view of employer branding as a nice to have or bonus for companies is now obsolete. Unprecedented times demand that leaders take a bold step forward and make the necessary changes to stay relevant and resonate. We’re about to see a massive shift in values that could transform the big players in the war on talent forever.
I believe that now is the perfect time to refine your company values and employer brand. It’s the one thing leaders can control today. You will have the strongest team available to help your business grow and succeed. As the changing world will require new roles and attributes for employees, an updated post-COVID employer brand will give you the best tool to connect with and attract new talent with the relevant skills and attitudes into your organization.
People are losing faith in their employers
Employees are losing faith in their employers because of how they’ve handled themselves during this crisis. Not offering sick pay and even refusing to provide essential protection are some of the driving factors for employers getting a bad reputation. This neglect will undoubtedly make employees reconsider their role and be more open to another offer post COVID. 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation – even for a pay increase.
If your reputation hasn’t been affected by the coronavirus crisis, one company’s loss could be your gain. Now is not the time to be humble about your efforts. It is OK and important to promote the good work you are doing for staff and the community externally. If other brands are repairing their reputation, now is the time to show that you’ve been a brilliant, caring option all along.
If your reputation has taken a hit, now is the time to redefine your message. It’s crucial that the messaging you put out meets the tone and attitudes of both your employees and future candidates. The wrong campaign could damage your reputation further, taking you to the point of no return.
Focus on your ethics
Recent studies suggest that millennials and younger generations care about companies with good ethics and a moral purpose; however, COVID-19 is going to make this more of a priority for all generations. Senior Talent Acquisition leaders from multiple industries report that COVID-19 response and employee care has been one of the first questions asked by candidates even at the Director and above level. Compassion and caring go a long way in a crisis and will be something candidates, and employees are looking for in their employer even after COVID-19 has passed. The time to show you have a heart has come.
Organizations that give back to their community by donating to food banks or offer perks to healthcare workers have gained huge amounts of positive publicity and social media coverage. This influences the perception of a business’s employer brand and will be remembered for years to come. If you care for the people around you, it’s assumed you’ll treat your staff in the same fashion.
While it’s easy to get caught up in business matters in your everyday life, we’re currently living in a time that is far from ordinary. We all have heightened emotions and changing priorities. With more organizations and individuals than ever needing a helping hand, showing your business puts purpose over profit has incredibly positive ramifications.
You’ll be in a better position when the storm passes
If you spend time building up your reputation, establishing an employer brand, and refining your candidate experience now, you’ll be better set for success as business demands return to pre-COVID levels. LinkedIn claims that 75% of job seekers consider an employer brand before applying for a job, so make sure yours is an honest and credible representation of your company in such an overwhelming and tentative time.
The way your brand is perceived by both your existing and future employees is crucial to survival in the coming months. Ensure that your values are refined and clear, your messaging is sympathetic yet engaging, and you’re setting the right tone for your business when promoting yourself as an employer. If you need any help building, refining, or repairing your reputation and employer brand, Talent Works International are experts in creating authentic and relevant employer brand frameworks and recruitment marketing campaigns.
Jody Robie is a shareholder and manages North America for Talent Works International. She helps clients leverage our team of brand and insight specialists, creative marketers and global recruiters. She uses her expertise to research, validate, implement and activate employer brands for companies of all sizes ranging from Babson College, RELX, Moderna, iRobot, Shopify and Primark.