Employer branding: Emerging trends in the COVID era
The concept of branding today goes beyond the core business offering. One of the important aspects today of a company’s overall brand value is their image as an employer. A company’s practices and policies when it comes to hiring and treatment of employees is more in the scanner than ever before. As companies look to create stronger bonds with their communities, their employees become their biggest spokespersons.
Over the last few years, online portals to rate and review employers have seen a rise in prominence, and have become an important tool for candidates to evaluate prospective employers. These platforms use opinions of employees past and present to review employers. According to a study, participants who saw a positive review said that they were more interested in applying for a job at that employer and would recommend the company to others. Leveraging employees to become the company’s spokespeople is an important part of a company’s brand value as an employer.
In this piece, we look at some measures companies are taking to maximize their brand value as employers.
Flexibility is becoming a non-negotiable pull
An important shift during the pandemic has been the shift to remote working. Out of necessity, a lot of companies have had to make the transition to allow employees to work from home. However, many companies have also been slow to make the shift, requiring employees to travel to work despite the difficult conditions. Companies that offer the option for employees to work from home automatically become more appealing to prospective hires.
While remote work gained greater prominence post pandemic, flexible working has been making waves as a core workplace offering to hire top talent from the pre-pandemic days. In fact, a 2018 research by Werk found that 50% of employees would consider taking a new job if it offered more flexibility. Additionally, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 found a 78% increase in job posts on LinkedIn that mention work flexibility.
With organizations becoming cognizant of individual employee needs and recognizing that different people function differently, adjusting working practices to offer needed flexibility is becoming a key contributor in helping organizations become an employer of choice.
Leveraging social media
As the world sits at home, social media has become an important platform for people to engage with those beyond the four walls of their home. Companies have realized this, and increased their own social media activities to showcase not only their core business, but also to give viewers a sneak-peek into their new working environment. Communicating with existing and potential talent pool through social channels allows companies to build an employer brand that is relatable, authentic and approachable.
Additionally, companies have also used these platforms to cast a wider net and access a pool of remote talent that was hitherto inaccessible.
Offering a robust support mechanism to employees
2020 showed us that the most important assets for any organization are the people. However, despite the initial charm of WFH, the pandemic has had an almost debilitating effect on the workforce.
According to a study on employee mental health, over 41% of respondents reported that their mental health had declined due to the pandemic.
Taking cognizance of that, companies have not hesitated to go the extra mile to offer support to their employees. Be it altering existing health plans to include mental health support, adding COVID relief, or even extending access to mental and physical health support to the workforce, employers who focus on the well-being and happiness of employees stand a much greater chance of attracting the best workers to join their ranks.
Building a more diverse and inclusive workplace
The past few years have seen a paradigm shift in how companies interact with their communities. The social media boom has meant that companies, more than ever, have eyeballs on them and the actions they take.
The global community too has shifted, and the historically voiceless have been given chances to join, grow, be heard, and lead at the workplace. Companies can no longer discriminate on the basis of race, gender, political views, economic status, sexual preference, or any other traits that create scope for privilege and bias on the basis of perceived identity associations. It is the companies that make these changes and have these conversations themselves rather than doing it because the law says so, that really stand out.
The past year was already difficult due to the pandemic, but, the plethora of social issues around the world forced everyone to reflect and re-evaluate their stances on these issues, and some employers and leaders stepped up in this need of hour, reinforcing their commitment to the community they serve.
Reports confirm that employers committed to diversity, equity, inclusivity and social justice are more attractive to job applicants, than those who don't.
Employers today need to be on the ball when it comes to the reputation and sentiment they hold in the minds of people. At a time when the workforce and workplaces are being redefined, and with talent moving across jobs frequently, it is important for companies to be mindful of their reputation. A robust Employer Branding strategy is vital for an organization to attract and retain the best talent.