On a recent Recruitics webinar on the topic of “The Impact of Employer Brand in Times of Change: Insights & Tips from a Panel of Experts,” I was a panelist among employer branding and recruitment experts that shared insights and information on how they are navigating challenges of COVID-19. During this webinar, many questions about employer branding came up, so in this post, I am diving deeper into these questions from actual webinar attendees. Here you go!
Q: “How are employer brand teams and corporate communications teams playing nicely in the sandbox with seemingly competing priorities?”
A: While tactics and methods may vary slightly, at the end of the day, employer brand and corporate comms teams are working towards the same goal: to showcase your organization as best as you possibly can. It’s in your best interest as an employer brand leader to make sure corp comms is on your side – the end result will place your organization in a much better position than you would be if you went at it alone.
Q: “There are some harsh realities in companies right now. What challenges have you seen employer brand teams have with corporate communications teams, or have you had to scrap employer brand launches or reduce content flow to shared channels in response to COVID-19?”
A: We don’t know how long this pandemic will be impacting our lives as we know it – that shouldn’t stop you from doing your best to continue on with your plans, shifting appropriately when needed. We have not reduced our content flow (if anything, we’ve increased it). It’s important to be cognizant of the messaging you are putting out for sure, but that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard on nitpicking pieces of content. Finding the right balance is key.
Q: “What are some of the most persuasive arguments to make to leadership to convince them to lean-in on employer branding during this time? How are you selling the value of employer branding to executives who aren’t even thinking about this right now?”
A: Put some article headlines in front of them of companies who made missteps with their organization or brand. The last thing anyone wants is bad press – as you may not only lose out on attracting talent, but also selling products as well. It takes just one misstep for people to remember the “bad,” but constant proactive steps for people to understand the “good.” Continuing to support your employer brand during this time will keep candidates (and consumers) aware that your organization is still here, and you are weathering the storm. People are looking for stability above all else right now, so emphasizing “business as usual” to your leaders is in your organization’s best interest.
Q: “How will we remind decision makers of the importance recruiting and employment branding are post-pandemic?”
A: As the cliché goes, numbers speak louder than words. It’s easy for people to dismiss statements made by others as personal opinion, but not when those statements are backed up by data. Showcasing your metrics and data is the easiest way to remind decision makers of the importance of recruiting and employer branding.
Q: “What metrics do you use to measure employer brand strength?”
A: For social, we use engagement rate to determine the performance of our employer brand in regards to content we are putting out to the world. For our jobs, we use conversion rate to determine the strength of our employer brand in convincing those looking at our jobs to apply. For our careers website, we use a multitude of metrics to measure our employer brand strength – average time spent on page is used to determine if our content is resonating with others, Net Promoter Scoring is used to determine if we are delivering a good candidate experience, and total applications are used to determine if we are succeeding at attracting talent. We also survey our new hires to determine what impact our employer brand had in convincing them to apply and accept a position with us. We also use data from LinkedIn to determine how many of our hires were influenced by our brand prior to being hired. There are a ton of metrics and data out there that you could look at to measure employer brand strength – it’s important to find the appropriate mix for what works for your organization.
Q: “What advice do you have for those who are leading the employer brand in companies that are on hiring freezes or going through layoffs?”
A: It’s certainly not an easy situation to handle. The best advice I can give is to be honest and as transparent as possible. In an ideal scenario, your company is taking action with compassion in making these hard decisions. As long as they are being honest, open, and fair, then it should make your job easier in continuing with your employer brand efforts. You certainly shouldn’t skirt around the issue – doing so could come back to bite you in the long-run. Whether you are in a hiring freeze or a layoff, your brand will withstand as long as you are honest and compassionate. I see a lot of brands putting a “face” (usually their CEO) to these hard messages, in forms of personally written articles or filmed videos. People trust people over brands any day, and having an actual person deliver challenging news can help others be more understanding of the situation.
Q: “What is your advice for or thoughts on level of transparency (both internally and externally for B2C brands) for companies that are having to do some layoffs or furloughs, but also are still trying to sustain and grow business and might even be hiring for certain key positions?”
A: You should be as transparent as you possibly can. Assuming your company is making the appropriate decisions for your business, others will be understanding if you explain the reality of the situation to them. These types of messages should really be coming from a person (as opposed to “The Company”) as it humanizes the situation. You should also try your best to not sever the relationship for those that have been furloughed or laid off. If you can, try and see if you can do something to make them feel as though they are still valued – like letting them know you will welcome them back with open arms, or that you will give priority consideration to them for future openings.
Q: “How are you balancing the COVID-19 messaging that employers want to distribute with the burnout of audiences on pandemic messaging?”
A: I think it’s important to imagine yourself on the other end – as the recipient of the message. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m reading valuable to me?” If the answer is no, then you need to rework the message, or consider not sending it. Like everyone else, I’ve been inundated with emails, posts, articles, etc. around COVID-19, a lot of which is just saying something for the sake of saying something. If you tailor your messages to provide something of value to your audience, they will appreciate you for it, and you’ll stand-out amongst the crowd.
Q:"Any tips on the use of visuals in employer brand communications?"
A: Definitely be cognizant of the visuals you are putting out in the world – use your best judgment to determine if something is appropriate. With that being said, don’t overthink it. If you are hesitant about using an image of your employees gathered together for example, you could always place a caption under the image identifying the period in time the photo was taken (i.e. before the pandemic). I would also recommend you try and do some A/B testing if you can – test out what visuals work better than others for your audience.
Q: “What are some tips on strengthening employer brand through social media?”
A: Social media presents a huge opportunity for employers to strengthen their brand, particularly through UGC (user-generated content) from your employees (also known as EGC, employee-generated content). Create a corporate hashtag and encourage your employees to use the hashtag and share their personal experiences working at your organization on their social media accounts. This opens up an additional content stream for you, and showcases your brand in a humanistic way. Review your EVP and develop content or campaigns around your organization’s unique aspects. Always do your best to highlight and showcase your employees – people respond to people more than they do brands.
Q: “With more people working remotely, how are you leveraging employees to create content?”
A: If you can create an activity or campaign that allows employees’ kids to be involved, then do it! Your employees will thank you for providing some boredom relief for their children, and your audience will love seeing the kids’ involvement!
Q: “Hiring will come back. What are your messages around when we do come out of this current situation? What are your thoughts about communicating as we emerge from this crisis? What recruitment marketing and employer branding tactics are you taking to prepare for when the crisis slowly ends?”
A: Well, my hope is that mostly we can return back to normal! But for us “normal” will be forever different. I think it’s hard to tell right now how or what we will communicate, but I think in general being transparent, open, and honest about the steps your organization is taking to “return to normal” is your best bet for communicating as we emerge from the pandemic.
I hope you found these helpful! Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Learn more about employer branding on this resources hub. Also, the Recruitics Blog and Recruitment Marketing Resources page both have tons of other great resources about recruitment marketing, talent acquisition, employer branding and more.
Additionally, you can get access to the full webinar recording here, or you can watch the section of the webinar on “Employer Brand & Messaging Lessons Learned from Leading Brands” below.