Written by Chris Russell
22nd September, 2020
Value-Added Employer Branding for Changing Times
2020 memes. I’m sure you’ve seen them all across social media, making light of the horror show that this year has been for most people, from pandemic to murder hornets to race, class, and political warfare. Toss in things like layoffs, furloughs and professional struggles, and traditional employment branding can seem tone deaf or out of place.
Priorities have shifted for customers, employees, and job seekers. Who cares about ping pong tables and free donuts when if everyone works from home? Who cares about how many awards your company has won when your employees are turning over and customers or not renewing? Who cares that you offer competitive pay if workers are more concerned about stability?
People are not moved by dry technical copy or compliant corporate-speak. Nor are they influenced by superlatives like “exciting,” “cutting-edge,” and “dynamic.” It takes more to stand out to a society with so much being thrown at them.
This is really difficult to do in the digital age of political correctness, and so there is the understandable tendency to want to play it safe. But safe and proper are not what drive people towards a common goal. The branding that gets results today takes a stand on a specific set of values and is shamelessly, vulnerably authentic.
Here are a few ways you can shift your branding strategy from what used to work to what works now:
Old way – promoting how great a place it is to work and how happy people are.
New way – talk about your challenges. Dostoevsky said (and I’m liberally paraphrasing here), that if you gave people everything they wanted and everything was perfect all the time, the first thing they’d do is smash something, just to have something unexpected or interesting happen. We are adapted as humans to require some security, but we are most alert and alive when we have one foot out in the unknown and are working to attain something. Talk about where you’re headed as a company and what problems need solving.
Old way – culture and work environment are unknown or misperceived until after people are hired or decide not to pursue employment. Potential employees have no idea what it’s like to work for your company unless they know an insider. They are otherwise relying on maybe a statement or video on your career page, asking the Recruiter or Hiring manager, or checking out Glassdoor reviews (and then crossing their fingers).
New way – Have your employees promote your culture and work environment on social media, company website and hiring ads. Give top candidates an insider to connect and interact with, and the ability to have an informational interview that is not tied to judgment of their qualifications for the position. If you’re afraid to do it, maybe your culture isn’t worth promoting.
Old way – creating a website and social media pages, using them passively and leaving hiring ads to the Recruitment team to post.
New way – doubling down on efforts to get brand recognition. Get your name out there with strategic SEO, partnerships and collaborations with other companies, and increasing your number of brand ambassadors to include as many employees as possible doing all of the things above.
Employer branding is an evolving message that needs to be calibrated for shifting times. Hopefully these tips give you an idea of where to start.