Employer Brand

How will COVID-19 impact your employer brand?

May 2020 Written by Papirfly

As companies worldwide juggle a growing list of priorities and concerns in the face of COVID-19, it’s possible for the significance of your employer brand to fly under the radar. In the short-term, there are more pressing priorities, and that means full-scale recruitment schemes might be on-hold for the foreseeable future.

However, it is important we recognise that, eventually, the world will return to some kind of normality. And when it does, companies who have dedicated time and attention to protecting and enhancing their employer brand will be in the best position to hit the ground running when it does, with the backing of their existing workforce and an influx of available talent.

Because it is during these times of crisis that brands need to stand up and be counted. It is easy to highlight company values and EVPs when life is running smoothly. But when times are tough, the onus will be on brands to stick by their values and support their teams - and those who don’t, they will stand to take a big hit to their reputation, which will likely stick with them long after the Coronavirus crisis ends… 

So what should organisations be doing to manage, protect and highlight their employer brand during these difficult circumstances? What examples of good and bad practices should we be taking note of?

5 ways to support your employer brand through COVID-19

1. Keep your teams regularly informed about company updates

Right now, there’s a lot of anxiety and misinformation surrounding the Coronavirus and what it means for businesses and employees. Now more than ever companies need to be clear with their teams worldwide and communicate their plan of action for facing this invisible threat. Bring staff along for the journey, so no one is left in the dark.

This could involve hosting regular meetings (potentially through video conferencing) to make people aware of the company’s position in this ever-changing landscape. You might also look to contain up-to-date company policies and COVID-19 guidance in a dedicated online space, such as Papirfly’s Educate section, that your employees can freely access to find out more, as well as ensure these are communicated across the channels you are using at this moment in time.

Share positive messages and good news where you can to improve morale and take people’s minds off the negativity of this whole situation. And, where bad news can’t be avoided like redundancies or closures, speak to these people directly and earnestly. Avoiding these conversations will only hurt in the long-term, and potentially do more harm to people’s opinion of how your brand operates.

Be open and honest with your employees and they will appreciate that you value them enough to not try and pull the wool over their eyes. Remember that up to a third of employees consider leaving their company because they felt communication was lacking. In situations like this, the importance of clear communication cannot be ignored.

How will COVID-19 impact your employer brand 3

2. Highlight your brand values in action

Create and share content that emphasises your brand values and shows that you are an organisation that follows through. As noted earlier, it is during these tough times that a company’s true nature comes to the forefront - do you stick to your values, or do circumstances cause you to falter on these?

It might seem hard to visualise at the moment but the Coronavirus crisis will eventually come to a close. But, restoring your employer brand after turning your back on your values may carry over much, much longer, impacting your ability to retain staff and attract new talent.

Instead, now is the time to double-down and shine a spotlight on how you are meeting your company values. Promote the ways you’re looking after the wellbeing of your employees in this difficult period and procedures you’ve put in place to incorporate remote working.

Communicating this through your internal and external channels can have a long-term positive impact on your reputation both during this outbreak and life beyond it.

3. Empower your employees on social media

Right now, people are crying out for positivity on their social media feeds. So harness the power of your employees around the world and how they’re adapting to this situation in your content going forward.

It could be as simple as sharing some of your employees’ stories about life working at home and how they’re adjusting to getting things done with their kids and pets roaming the halls. Or sharing online social gatherings your team is having to keep everyone connected and having fun amidst the difficulties surrounding day-to-day life right now.

Giving your employees the ability to create and share this content (with approval workflows established to ensure everything meets brand values) will not only boost their morale but position you as a company that sticks together even in the toughest of times - a company people will turn to when the tough times are over.

How will COVID-19 impact your employer brand

4. Adapt your recruitment process for these unique times

A sad reality of the COVID-19 crisis is that millions of people worldwide already find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. A lot of good and talented people. However, for companies who are still looking to recruit, like Amazon’s search for 100,000 new employees to meet current demands, now is the time to adjust how you recruit in this unique environment.

Consider ways you can normalise this process for interviewees who may have been unsettled by this whole situation. Accommodate the possibility for video or phone-based interviews with potential recruits and, should they be chosen, hold a group video call with members of your team to welcome them to the fold. Plus, direct them to where your company documentation and brand guidelines are held in your BAM Portal’s Educated section, so they can fully get to grips with who you are as a brand.

By adapting to these strange circumstances and still taking care of new recruits, this will resonate with them and help form a more powerful connection with your brand. They’ll recognise you went the extra mile for them in a difficult time, and they’ll appreciate that now and going forward.

5. Listen to your employees' concerns and address these as best you can

Finally, be sure to pay close attention to your employees’ concerns and challenges at this moment in time. It’s a difficult situation for us all right now, with news changing every day. Companies that demonstrate loyalty and compassion towards the people behind their brand,  will enhance their reputation in the eyes of their existing team and, subsequently, the eyes of both potential recruits and customers concerned about how companies are treating their staff.

With 84% of jobseekers placing a high value on a prospective employer’s reputation, by listening and responding to your employees as best you can, you will be in a strong position to attract the talent out there looking for a reassuring workplace when the current crisis ends.

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Plus, by paying attention to the concerns of one or several of your employees, you can use this as the basis of internal content for your wider teams both domestically and across the globe. Taking this proactive step will show you’re looking out for your employees, and they will appreciate this gesture.

3 brands doing things right… and 3 that went wrong

(Correct at the time of writing)

Right

Whitbread - As well as supplying hotel rooms for key workers during this difficult period, Whitbread will top-up the extra 20% of the wages of staff furloughed as a result of COVID-19.

Jingye - The recent acquirers of British Steel recently sent a private plane full of medical and protective equipment to support workers at the company’s steelworks in Scunthorpe.

The Co-op - They are taking on 5,000 additional workers to cope with increased demand, concentrating on helping hospitality workers who have unfortunately lost their jobs.

Wrong

B&M - Staff of the retail chain have complained online about a lack of PPE, while they have been given little reassurance over their pay if they choose to self-isolate.

Britannia - The hotel chain blamed administrative errors for sacking staff and leaving some without accommodation after closing a branch in Scotland.

Cineworld - The company’s immediate decision to terminate the employment of many members of staff has drawn widespread criticism by both former and remaining employees.

Getting behind your employer brand

We hope this provides some clarity over the importance of your employer brand at this moment in time, and steps you can take to protect and enhance it in challenging circumstances. 

While things such as this don’t feel like a priority in the short term, when life returns to normal (or as close to normal as possible), those who looked after their employees in this turbulent time will be in a stronger position to recruit and retain the best talent available.

If you would like to discuss how you can harness the full potential of your BAM Portal in this difficult situation to support your employer brand, we’d love to discuss the possibilities with you further. Talk to our team today for more information.

by Papirfly

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