Employer Branding in the Time of COVID-19

Today’s coronavirus crisis has most of us trying to work productively from home, manage a distributed workforce and keep business alive. It’s a lot to balance – which means that you might rank Employer Branding low on the priorities list. That would be a mistake. Yes, your employer brand should attract applicants and inspire them to accept offers. But great employer brands also keep employees inspired and motivated over time. They drive former employees to remain loyal advocates for the company, too. And if ever there were a need for inspiration and loyal advocacy, it’s now.

For many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating that corporate culture was never limited only to the human resources department – or even only to the office. And that realization is important for several reasons:

  • Employees are likely worried about whether business will continue strongly enough to keep them employed.
  • Insecurity reigns, with people scrutinizing everything from the nuances of expressions during Zoom calls to what others are saying offline.
  • Layoffs are happening – if not to your team members, then certainly to people they know, which intensifies anxieties.
  • Applicants may be feeling unsure about their status and whether the job still exists.
  • New hires probably wonder if work they signed on for is what they’ll actually be doing.
  • Finally – and don’t kid yourself about this part – your employees are probably using some of this time to figure out what’s next for them when normalcy returns – and whether it will involve your company at all.

In short: your employees need some consistent reassurance. And they need it from you.

We get it.  When changes in your business, your industry, the country and the world occur on nearly an hour-by-hour basis, it’s hard to craft perfect employee communications. Forget about perfect and instead go for regular, open and honest. Think about the hallmarks of your corporate culture and how you can continue to reinforce them. Ask yourself: How has the experience of working for the company changed, and what can you do to keep its hallmarks consistent for your employees?

Consider what we’ve started doing at Relish. Every Friday afternoon, we set up a Zoom meeting – not to discuss business specifically, but just to share stories and laugh together with some snacks and beverages of our choosing, as we often did on any given Friday in the office. Or, take a cue from Inc. Magazine (where – full disclosure – my son, Cameron, is a reporter). Inc.’s publishing company had long provided bagels for all staff members on Fridays. The company’s leaders realized that the tradition would be missed, so they instituted a way to keep the practice going – basically paying for all employees to order bagels on Fridays from any local shop that would deliver. Cameron affirms that the breakfast treats are much appreciated. However, the feelings of warmth and connection that those bagels engender are what the company is really bringing home to its team members and their families.

If you still feel like employer branding needs to take a back seat to other, more pressing needs, we’ve got your back. Call us and let’s bounce around some ideas about current challenges, branding and communications. We may be able to help. Regardless, if you use this time to solidify your employer brand and communicate it well, you’ll deliver some powerful support to your employees through the current crisis as well as after it ends.