Make Your Employer Brand Work for You in Times of Change

When it comes to running a business, change is inevitable – and it can come in many forms, such as mergers or acquisitions, significant growth, budget cuts, downsizing, new leadership, restructuring and transformations. Most business leaders naturally respond to these types of changes by planning their operational response. However, it is equally important to consider the impact these kinds of changes can have on a company’s employer brand, as well as the opportunities that arise to strengthen and revitalize it.

Your Employer Brand Matters More in Times of Change

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 70 to 90 percent of all mergers and acquisitions fail to meet anticipated financial and strategic goals. In many cases, HR-related issues are part of the reason why. A time of change can hinder an employer’s ability to attract new candidates and retain existing employees. Likewise, significant changes can spur negative buzz from employees who either leave because they feel alienated or who stay but still feel insecure or threatened by rapidly shifting circumstances.

A study by the American Psychological Association showed that employees who were facing changes at work were twice as likely to have work-related chronic stress and three times as likely to consider looking for another job. If employers are not careful, employees can start to feel underappreciated, isolated and as if they are no longer part of a team. In addition, employees may worry about their future career with the company or believe that their growth and development will falter.

Make Your Employer Brand Work Harder

The good news is corporate turbulence can offer companies with a strong employer brand a natural opportunity to evolve and strengthen it further. There are specific steps that employers can take to help minimize negative effects and even re-energize employees who may be feeling apprehensive in a time of change:

1. Be Aware of Your Employees’ Needs

Employers can offset employee concerns by ensuring an ongoing focus on the things that are most important to them:

  • Control – Feeling like they are involved rather than the change just happening to them
  • Capability – Continuation of skill growth and development
  • Career growth – Continued and clear career path
  • Connection – Personal connections with co-workers and leaders

In general, these “4 Cs” are important to employees at all times, however, they are even more important during times of significant change.

2. Reinforce Employee Value

Employers should take specific actions to ensure their employees feel valued and that opportunities for continued career growth are still available. Re-evaluate your employee value proposition. Consider the perks, benefits, and other value you offer, as well as how they reinforce the reasons why people should feel good about working for your company.

3. Infuse Internal Communications with Inspiration

Clear and transparent communication is critical during times of change – but it isn’t enough. True, if communication between employer and employee breaks down, trust will erode, leading to high turnover rates. But even with clarity and transparency, internal communications during change must do more than merely inform. This is the time to re-energize team members, to inspire them, to help them feel that amidst all the change, they still belong. So, yes, be clear and transparent. But also, be engaging, inspiring and authentic.

4. Manage External Communications with Engagement

Make sure that stories told in public don’t undercut your key messages. Train your executive spokespeople to talk about the changes in your organization in ways that support your employer brand. Review your external blog posts. Monitor social media and other channels for language that could cause alarm among prospective candidates as well as employees, partners, recruiters and others whose opinions could sway candidates one way or the other.

5. Don’t Do It Alone

There are so many things to consider when going through a change that employers often have a difficult time identifying major employee issues. Working with a partner who specializes in employer branding can help employers recognize these issues and find opportunities to make their employer brand work harder for them.

In times of change, a well-developed employer brand can easily be strengthened to support and encourage employees. However, significant business changes also can be a perfect time for any business to cultivate a strong employer brand that transforms times of change into opportunities for revitalization and new success.

P.S. We invite you to take advantage of The Employer Brand Guidebook: How to Attract, Engage and Retain Top Talent. It’s full of useful information and tools to support businesses as they evaluate, cultivate and evolve their employer brands. And we’re offering it free when you download it now.


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