Building your Employer Brand During a Crisis

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  • 5/5/2020

    The impact of COVID-19 has led to strange times for marketers. We’re seeing new paradigm shifts every day, and at thunder::tech, we are working hard to help you navigate its impact on your business. This content is one of many resources we are creating for marketing and management in the midst of the coronavirus.
    As things continue to change, we’re helping by providing marketing advice, fresh perspectives and strategic planning for companies during and after the pandemic. For a full list of our COVID-19 resources, click here.
    An employer brand is the reputation and value proposition that a company has as a place to work. It's related to, but ultimately different from the corporate brand, which is external in nature. In a national crisis, it may seem low-priority, but working to maintain or grow your employer brand is key to coming out stronger than ever on the other side.
    The employer brand is often confused with recruiting, which is just one function of the full brand concept. Your approach to creating this brand should incorporate all these areas that are important to every organization:
    • Retaining your best and brightest
    • Motivating your teams
    • Enabling employees to serve customers with a high degree of care
    • Maintaining your reputation as a place to work over the long term
    • Intertwining the employer brand with your corporate brand

    Enhancing your communication

    The sum of a brand's internal actions, especially in a crisis, absolutely affects their employer brand. The easiest area to build brand strength during a crisis is with communications. Play back the tape and think about how you and your leadership have communicated thus far during the COVID-19 crisis:
    • How have you responded as someone who represents the brand and are you proud of it?
    • Did you share enough information with customers and employees?
    • Did you make decisions with conviction even if you knew that they could change the next day?
    Whether you liked your answers or not, every day during a crisis is an opportunity to work on your communications and help build trust in your employer brand.

    Putting people first

    The private sector's leadership during this crisis is desperately needed. Consider this research from Chief Executive Magazine: In a recent survey of 10,000 Americans, the majority of respondents said “My Employer” was better prepared to manage this crisis than “My Country” by an entire 15 points, 45% to 30%. Communications coming from “My Employer” were more trusted (63%) than from Government (58%) or Media (51%).
    I have been pleasantly surprised how many organizations put their people first during the early days of the pandemic. Even though very tough staffing decisions had to be made in the subsequent weeks (I'm in that group, too), leaders have had the opportunity to stand up and carve their organization’s path. What follows after the difficult details can be a way forward filled with fresh thinking and hope. 

    Thinking long-term

    Many organizations have built an excellent employer brand as a result of the previously tight labor market. Now, it’s important to think about the long-term view. You may not see instant results, but how can you work to shape your employer brand in a way that attracts current and potential employees?
    In this modern era, think about our society's wealth of abundance when it comes to work choices. Even in a down economy, employees have their choice of industry, geographic location, remote work, gig opportunities and a plethora of information on every employer and leader online. 
    Employees also come to work every day with choices. What kind of attitude, effort and care will they show for those your brand touches? Remember, the values that you hold inside your organization can either assist or detract from how your workforce delivers on the external brand promise.
    The way your organization reacts now will shape your employer brand and your organization's potential during and after this crisis. This pandemic is an opportunity to help your people and customers by showing the way forward and taking care of what they need from you.
    What kind of employer brand will you build? How will your organization cope during and after this crisis? Visit our COVID-19 resources page for more information to help you move forward and come out on top. 
    About the author::
    Jason Therrien is the president of thunder::tech. He is a fan of entrepreneurs and trailblazers, a proud dad and he liked scotch before Mad Men made it cool.
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