We all know how much the world of work has changed this past year – but do you now need to review and refresh your employer brand? This question should help you decide:

Do your employees still know why they want to work for you – instead of somewhere else?

And, after so much turbulence, could you answer the same question as a recruiter?

The factors that help people decide why they want to work for you are at the core of the Employee Value Proposition (or EVP) which underpins the employer brand. The chances are, for both employees and employer, the ground has shifted. Your organisation will have changed – along with engagement with your employer brand.

If this sounds like a challenge you’re facing – it’s time to take stock. We’re not saying rip up your employer brand and start again – it’s more about making sure the good points are still there and valid, while identifying where work needs to be done.

A year of change – and turnover

You may feel you worked hard at engaging your people during remote working and furloughing, you offered plenty of support and treated them well. And yet, evidence suggests, many employees find themselves unsure about who they want to work for – and where their careers are going.

Recent research from Totaljobs found that nearly nine in ten (89%) of UK workers are looking for a new job in 2021. And people aren’t just looking for a slight change in location or role – 45% of workers said they want to completely change sectors.

This brings both challenges and opportunities. You need to make sure you retain your best talent, while at the same time presenting an employer brand that appeals to active jobseekers and career changers who could bring valuable new skills and experience.

Why your employer brand matters – in case you didn’t know

According to LinkedIn, 75% of candidates will research a company’s reputation before applying for a vacancy. In previous articles we’ve said that HR has to ‘think like a marketer’ with good reason. A positive employer brand is just as important to employees in choosing an employer as good branding is to attracting and keeping customers.

What’s more, increasingly the perception of your employer brand can affect your consumer brand. Research by CareerArc found that 62% of consumers will stop buying from an organisation if they perceive it treats its employees poorly. We all know there’s been a lot of focus on how certain organisations have put profit before people this past year – and the damage that’s caused to their reputation with employees and customers.

So, we are emerging from the pandemic, many people feel unsure what their organisation now feels like to work for, there’s a huge re-evaluation going on in terms of what people want from a career. Any pragmatic organisation would review how their employer brand is performing.

Here’s what you need to consider:

1. Re-evaluate your EVP, post Covid

Let’s go back to that question – do your employees know why they want to work for you – instead of somewhere else? It’s naturally the start-point to any review process. You need to be able to answer this. Your EVP should communicate how you want to be seen as an employer but, it needs to be authentic (believable and credible), attractive (what your target audience wants) and distinctive (differentiating you from your competitors).

Our article Understanding your employer proposition, a practical approach covers a six step process and the questions you need to ask yourself.

2. Re-communicate your purpose

Even before the pandemic, evidence showed a movement away from financial reward to a need for purpose in the roles that we do. Recruiters have noticed a shift from interview questions about reward towards how the organisation makes a difference. The past year has made many people re-evaluate the purpose behind the roles they do.

Being able to identify your purpose as an organisation is a very powerful employer proposition, particularly now. It also creates the basis for some equally powerful recruitment messages.

3. Reflect your culture and values

A lot has been said about the values shown by organisations during the pandemic – from the positive examples to the negative. Values are the core principles that guide and direct and organisation and its culture. They act as a moral compass for the organisation and its employees. And, most important of all – these values must be lived and breathed by the organisation and its management to really make that connection with employees. So, any employer brand refresh needs to emphasise your positive values so you attract those that share them.

4. Build an authentic message – with your own people

Once you have looked at your EVP, your purpose and re-affirmed your values, you will have done the groundwork to communicate that message. A successful employer brand is not only about how you differentiate your offer, but also about how that offer is perceived and effectively ‘bought’ by your target audience – which is why authenticity matters.

The best employer branding is built on great authentic content, and that often comes from the employees themselves. Your own people are best placed to build that authenticity whether in your creative communication or as advocates by way of what they say on social media – more of that later.

Authenticity is so important we wrote an entire article on it with many tips to get it right. Read more in Authenticity in employer branding (and why it matters).

5. Build an engaging careers website – a home for your employer brand

The careers website is your platform to tell your employer story and is where many candidates will connect with your employer brand for the first time. It’s also something your existing employees notice. So, as well as being a credible representation of what it’s like to work for you, it also must engage candidates right through to wanting to apply. Getting them to your site is hard work, so don’t lose them with an underwhelming experience that fails to inspire or reflect the great place to work you know you really are.

As you might expect, we’ve covered careers websites many times in our articles. Your careers website has to be an integral part of an employer brand refresh and we think you’ll find these two posts of help.

What makes a good careers website? and What makes compelling content for your careers website?

As part of your employer brand re-fresh, would you like a free careers website audit? We’ll report back on all the major best practice criteria – so your revised or new site is best placed to reflect your employer brand and ensure a rich candidate experience.

6. Consider the candidate experience at every stage to hire

Last month we covered the candidate experience in depth – so we won’t go into huge detail here. The main point we made was that candidates want to know about far more than the role itself – and you can lose them at any point in the process from awareness to joining you. Their experience – right through to interview and offer or rejection, will define how they feel about your employer brand and what they share with their friends and networks. Every stage needs to be welcoming and those that leave the process without being recruited – should leave feeling positive. Does your current candidate experience deliver like this?

Read more about Using a great candidate experience to help build your employer brand.

7. Review your recruitment process – Is it still fit for purpose?

Now, more than ever, the interview is a two-way process. You are evaluating your candidate’s suitability for a role – they are working out how they feel about working for you. Remote working has opened many to the possibility of working for anyone, anywhere – which may account for the volume of planned job changes as reported by Totaljobs. All of which means candidates expect an interview process that not only works, using the virtual tech we’ve all had to adjust to – but also one that shows an understanding of their needs.

A very important example is diversity and inclusion – and how organisations are demonstrating they are aware of the issues and offer an environment that, for example, recognises the needs of women and the ability to work flexibly. Many women’s careers have suffered during the pandemic as they found themselves taking on more of the duties of home schooling – so, they will be particularly keen to understand how organisations will be able to help them develop. The interview process needs to have the answers.

8. Update your content to cover wellbeing and personal safety

As we return to some form of office-based work, employees will have concerns about traveling into work and social distancing. They will want to feel safe at work – it’s likely to be their number one priority if they use any form of office hub. How does your employer branding content reflect this and address their concerns? You will probably want to think about Covid-safe content for your careers website and mention it in job postings.

9. Engage on social media

Social media is where your employees talk, share their experiences and it’s where candidates are doing their research. Remember that LinkedIn stat – that 75% of candidates will research a company’s reputation before applying for a vacancy. Social media is important because it’s where excited and engaged employees talk about working for you.

So, encourage your people to interact with your content and comment on posts and with their networks. Share real-life videos and images from the workplace – or wherever work takes place these days. Use your colleagues (with their permission) and talk about the real-life activities your organisation engages in. Remember to be authentic and talk about how their work reflects your values and meets your purpose.

10. Get on-boarding – and re-boarding, right

Finally, ensure that your welcome (on-boarding) process is as good as it possibly can be. It’s one of those ‘moments of truth’ where the reality needs to meet the expectation promised in the employer brand. Remember that all those people you hired remotely still haven’t seen your office, or even their desk. As an employer it’s really hard to recover from a poor on-boarding experience so, in the run up to starting and through the first days, make sure that your refreshed employer brand creates a really welcoming process.

Many organisations have now spent so long as a remote business that existing employees almost feel like new starters too. That’s why we advise you to think equally about communications to bring employees back – just as much as new starters.

In conclusion

Your employer brand is the perception your employees and candidates have of your organisation – and much of that may have changed over the past year. That’s why a review and refresh of your employer brand – by taking stock, listening to employees and engaging with leadership can perform a much needed realignment. It’s not only going to put you in a stronger place to engage and retain existing talent, but it will also ensure you are genuinely authentic, attractive and distinctive to appeal to new hires.

For further information

If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around your employer brand, just drop me a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea, a biscuit and a Zoom call.