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May 2020

Employer Branding here and now – threat and opportunity

In a speech in the late 1950’s, John F. Kennedy famously said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters - one represents danger and one represents opportunity.” Unfortunately for JFK this isn’t the exact interpretation of the Chinese characters, but US politicians don’t necessarily let accuracy get in the way of a good quote and his wisdom about a crisis yielding unique opportunities may be more important than ever.

If Employer Branding is your strategy that describes how an organisation markets its employment offer to existing and future talent, those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture, how’s it going at the moment?

You might say that “Hey, we’re still in crisis mode here, we haven’t got time to worry about that!’. But the reality is that, whether you have a stated EVP or employer brand in place your employees are living every element of it. Before COVID-19 they had to buy your brand every day and now is no different.

We’ve seen some companies cope really well in the current circumstance. Investments in communication, engagement, visible and approachable leadership and a common purpose have created a solid bedrock which has allowed the organisation to proactively manage what’s in front of them. However, in the same way that COVID-19 has had the worst effects on those poor people who had an underlying health condition, the same is true of businesses. Businesses where the key pillars of effective employer branding and engagement weren’t tackled have been badly affected – higher levels of absenteeism, old silos and hierarchies creating new divisions, people more disconnected and disengaged.

But, as in all times of crisis or change, there is threat and opportunity in equal measure. For those companies where staff are undervalued, ‘under-led’ and disconnected this is your chance to get those critical moments of truth right, maybe your last chance. You’re not who you think you are as a business. What the staff and customers say you are is the true reality, so what do you want the staff to say?

And if you have a clear EVP and Employer Brand, authentic and delivered in the right way, then now is the chance to tell the world. Here at DNA we are running a number of reputation building and attraction campaigns for clients. They’re reaching out (empathetically and in the right way) to those unappreciated and underwhelmed people – some to hire them now and some to build a dialogue and a connection for ‘after all this’. Creating a sense of connection and positivity for their personal future that their current employer is failing to do.

Here's another quote to finish on. Winston Churchill is believed to have said that ‘One should never let a good crisis go to waste’. There’s real opportunity to build (or rescue) your employer brand both inside and outside of your organisation. Don’t waste the opportunity.

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