Why strategic employer branding is essential

5 minutes read
By Irene Martínez, HR Project Manager, Top Employers Institute
Irene Martínez
job title
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked”, this Warren Buffet quote is particularly relevant as organisations contend with the current global health crisis. When your employer brand and, in turn, employee value proposition suddenly undergo an unexpected stress test such as what we have all experienced, many questions arise: How are candidates and employees perceiving your employer brand? To what extent is your employee value proposition proving to be real and meeting the needs and interests of your employees?

Step into their shoes 

The speed at which an unexpected crisis can affect your organisation does not allow room for a second chance to make a good first impression. How do candidates perceive your organisation from the outside? How do employees perceive the way leadership has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?  

 Top Employers are stepping into the shoes of both candidates and employees to find ways to reinforce and strengthen their Employer Brand? “The way to gain a good reputation is to be what you desire to seem”, said Socrates. Leading organisations are implementing such wisdom by showing modern day consistency with their employer branding in terms of both values and personality.   

An organisation’s “personality” is most visible via its marketing efforts, both online and offline. In the case of the current pandemic, Top Employer twitter streams demonstrated an emphasis on taking care of both employees and society at large. Some increased their CSR activity to help, with monetary and non-monetary donations, funding research and actively involving employees to create shared purpose. Others turned inwards and focused on taking care of their employees, which is always core priority for Top Employers.  

There has never been a better time to assess how your employer brand has been impacted, if your brand’s strength has been reinforced (or not!) and if it has met the expectations you had created before, during the more 'peaceful times', when communicating and acting as the 'perfect employer' was easier. Take a snapshot of your reputation and that of your competitors too. Compare where you both are, and with your self-image, identify what attributes are now associated to your employer brand and what ones have been missedAsk information from your potential candidates to be able to reshape and grow your external Employer Brand. 

Walking the talk 

During the pandemic, Top Employers have expanded their online and offline well-being initiatives, opened hot lines and mobile chat lines to support and keep employees informed. Many have also created or extended their employee assistance programs offering personal support service for them and their families. Well-being actions aimed to protect the mental and emotional welfare of all become essential. 

Increasing flexibility and listening to the voice of the employee are important initiatives that Top Employers have prioritised during the pandemic. Flexibility has been seen in the ambitious and innovative approach that combines teleworking, flexible hours, and unusual working days to meet the new demands and challenges in terms of work-life balance.  

Listening to the voice of the employee is a baseline approach many Top Employers have taken during these times. Pulse surveys, mood barometers, online focus groups, managers and directors leaning in, formal and informal settings have all come together to focus on what employees need and what their concerns are 

The key is that leading organisations with strong employer branding and purposeful employee value proposition strategies to take the time to respond to what they hear. Listening with the goal of supporting your employees reinforces trust, but also involves the employees in rebuilding the new normal. It is helpful to stop thinking "about" your employees and start thinking "with" your people – and this is one of the most successful attitudes that Top Employers show across the board. 

Leading companies not only act on their employer branding strategies, but successfully communicate what they do and what they stand for. Information is easily accessible and flows through traditional media as well as online social networks, both internally and externally. Employee experiences, testimonials and feedback now serve to promote employer branding, whether spontaneously or formally.   

Take action 

Since the outset of the global public health crisis at the beginning of 2020, your employer brand and in turn your employee value proposition have been undergoing a stress test. It is as if time has accelerated; two months seem two years. An information tsunami has been impacting your targeted people and challenging not only their perceptions of your organisation’s reputation, but also what they now expect from you. 

 Reviewing and reshaping your employer brand strategy is a crucial step for any Top Employer. Now is the time to gather information and evaluate the impact of your efforts and communication campaigns in order to strengthen your brand. Gathering these insights will help you re-map and enhance your brand. The follow through requires that leadership takes action to demonstrate how and what your organisation does to be an employer of choice. This will ensure your organisation not only remains agile, but will also increase its attractiveness and grow as an employer of choice in the eyes of your people. 

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Why strategic employer branding is essential

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