The lingering effects of COVID-19 on business and the economy make employer branding more important than ever. Employers must analyze and improve their employer brands in 2021 to reflect changes and responses to the events of an unprecedented year. In addition, the world of work has probably changed forever, and understanding how your organization is perceived going forward over the next few years will be critical to manage
Businesses aren’t the only ones focused on employer branding. Glassdoor surveys show job seekers are more interested than ever in company image and culture. They're starting to look further than the job description during the job search and place a value on the intangibles a company brings to the table.
What Is an Employer Brand?
Experts like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) define employer brand as a combination of an organization’s identity and employee value proposition. Employer brand includes the company culture, mission, and values. Good employer brands signal to candidates, employees, customers, and the community that the organization is a great employer and workplace. Whether you manage it closely or not, every organization has an employer brand and it’s time to consider the value of managing it to attract and retain talent or the consequences of letting it run about unchecked.
Why Improve Your Employer Brand?
According to employer brand experts like Marilia Honorio Ragazzo, improving your employer brand is important in 2021 because of the global nature of the pandemic. Having entire workforces working remotely requires a new understanding of how to value and monitor employee morale. It also means improving your employer brand to reflect business changes.
Ragazzo says it’s important to make changes and improvements to diversity, equity, and inclusion to reflect the heightened awareness from social unrest events of 2020. She reminds employers to update the employer value proposition and culture to be transparent and authentic. It helps to get quality candidates interested in the company and employees to feel good about where they work.
Best Tips to Improve Employer Brand
Consider the following three ways to improve your employer brand this year:
1 - Grow Social Media Presence
More than 3 billion people are expected to use social media in 2021. In 2012, the average time people spent on social media was 90 minutes a day. By 2019, that had increased to 153 minutes per day. Your employer brand is intertwined with its social media presence and is not a one-and-done undertaking.
Interacting with your organization’s social content is important. Responding to comments and sharing images and videos builds on that presence with authentic interactions. Showing the everyday human side of the business creates trust, engagement, and understanding. Job seekers are looking for a way to connect to your brand so giving them glimpses under the hood is important to their job search.
Additionally, you can improve your employer branding with a little help from your employees. Get content from employees by encouraging them to share their work experiences, company culture, and accomplishments. Ask for testimonials, photos and videos, and blog posts and stories. Then post the content on company websites to make your employer brand come to life, and encourage employees to share on their own social media channels and tag your company’s social accounts. If they are believers in the company’s culture and mission, this is a really easy request. If you find you are twisting arms this might be a sign that bigger challenges are afoot.
2 - Employee Advocacy Programs
Implementing and highlighting employee advocacy programs improves the employer brand and attracts top candidates. People look for more than just pay from an employer. They are looking for employers that care about them personally as well as professionally and support the whole person. Make sure your organization’s benefits and well-being programs are well-communicated so employees and candidates see them prominently.
The acceptance of mental health issues in recent years and the multitude of issues brought on by the pandemic has made support in this area of particular interest to employees and candidates. Employee well-being provisions not only build employer brand but also improve performance and employee retention. Having confidence in your employer’s commitment to supporting you through the ebb and flow of life is a critical long-term issue that showcases trust and confidence in the employer/employee relationship.
3 - Showcase Company Culture Early & Often
Shining a spotlight on employee stories is a great way to share company culture to improve your employer brand. For this, you need to work with HR to define and communicate company culture.
HR is important for employer branding to lead and communicate the culture and programs that care for and assist employees. Work with HR on internal issues affecting your employer brand, including diversity and growth opportunities via mentoring programs.
In addition, it is critical to consider the recruiting process the very first opportunity to immerse candidates in your culture. By using the time to connect on a human level and tell stories during phone screens, interviews and, the candidate experience you will tip your hand and showcase the best of your culture and your team.
Do You Know If Your Employer Brand Is in Trouble?
DecisionWise CEO Tracy Maylett, writing for Entrepreneur, explains that your consumer brand and employer brand often intertwine. Employees know about your company culture, messaging, values, and reputation before they ever apply for a position. He says indicators such as recruiting difficulty, decreased employee engagement, and less employee confidence point to an employer brand needing improvement.
A strong employer brand supports your workforce and your consumer brand. Maylett uses outdoor recreation specialty retailer REI as an example of a company using a strong employer brand to support and broadcast an intertwined consumer brand.
When REI opted out of Black Friday sales by communicating that they would close their stores and give their employees the day with pay to get outside, they supported their consumer and employer brands at the same time. They also garnered massive social media participation with #OptOutside for an overall win/win/win.
It’s important to look at your employer brand in 2021 through the lens of the events of 2020. An ongoing pandemic, economic crises, and social unrest mean your employer brand must keep up to stay meaningful and attractive to your employees and candidates. Are you ready for what’s next?