Yesterday I posted a simple and stark message. How you treat your colleagues during this challenging time will define your brand for decades. Value your people. Keep them safe. Help them help you. Now, more than ever, your employer brand is your brand. That’s because the way employers are treating their staff is generating huge coverage – both good and bad. All the more reason why protecting your employer brand should be high on your agenda.

So, this blog is about how you can look after your employer brand while all this craziness is going on. How you can ensure your brand sits positively in the eyes of employees and candidates and how, with a little adjustment, you can still recruit and engage new hires and work remotely.

But it all starts with recognising that … where there’s an employer brand, there’s an opinion.

What are your employees saying about you?

Over the years people have asked me for a definition for the employer brand. There are many but I always go back to the simplest. It’s what your employees say about you when you’re not in the room. Which means, in the current climate, there are some interesting conversations going on.

The good – and the walk of shame

Now, I won’t mention any names but there have been some high profile examples shared on social media. Some employers can hold their heads high, doing all they can to support their staff, calling in daily, recognising that many colleagues have their kids at home, looking out for mental health and wellbeing.

Others are proving that even in a crisis, profit comes before people. Staff are ‘let go’, unpaid or encouraged to look for work elsewhere. Some employers are still insisting their people commute, putting their health and those of others at risk. These short term actions will have long term impact, and not in a positive way.

So, here’s what we would do to help both you, and your employer brand, emerge from this in the best possible shape.

Protecting your employer brand – our tips

Remain positive. We will get through this. This is a testing time but people are often more resilient than we might think. As a manager or recruiter, you may have concerns about remote working but employees and candidates may be far more comfortable than you think. Your organisation might be new to this, but most people know others who already successfully work from home. Many examples are already emerging showing organisations not only adapting, but thriving on it.

Remain true to your values. Many of the negative stories emerging about the way some organisations are treating staff focus on saying one thing – but doing another. You can’t say how much you value your people if you then decide to not pay them or ask them to find jobs elsewhere – but expect them to re-apply when it suits. At all times values have to be lived and breathed by the organisation and its management to really make that connection with employees. They need to be authentic and experienced beyond joining – it’s probably the most significant contributor to the employer brand having lasting credibility.

Keep a sense of team and purpose. Your organisation isn’t just a place to work, for many it’s a social hub where colleagues are friends – and do important work together. The feeling of team is a key part of the employer brand and needs to be supported the longer working from home is a part of our lives. You have team socials at work – so do the same online. Who says Zoom calls have to be all about projects? Get to know each other a little more. Anything verbal and visual that builds morale will help.

Create engaging and authentic content. With your offices closed and no opportunity to visit your workplace as part of the recruitment process, what you put on your careers website and social media will be more important than ever. Does it reflect your culture and values, would it help your candidate learn a little more about you?

So, make the content authentic so that it gives the best and honest view of what it’s like to work for you. And update it to include some of your working from home experiences. You can record and then edit Zoom calls into a video – you can’t get more authentic than that. You’ll be starting new hires as remote workers – at least for the short term. Show what it feels like to experience that with you.

Manage your remote candidate experience. It’s very likely you’ve already started to interview more by video. How is that going? In reality many of the processes are the same, it’s the just the technology that adds in a few additional steps. So it pays to plan for these as the interview has to work doubly hard. Your candidate will have checked you out beforehand for sure, so this is the part where they are judging you as much as you are them.

Making sure the tech works is a must and, just as you’d want to put them at ease in person, do the same with a video interview. Get on the call first so they are not staring at a blank screen, be mindful of your background, try to find a quiet place and, as you’ll be starting them as remote workers – develop some questions that will test their remote working skills. Finally, make sure your post interview communications are prompt and clear. This will help manage expectations and keep the candidate engaged in the process.

Recognise effort. Finally, recognition is always welcome at the best of times. So, it can go a long way in helping to cope with working from home where it’s easy to feel like effort is not being seen. Take the time to acknowledge and call – people will be giving 110% in very challenging conditions. This will help reinforce your values and the engagement and motivation coming from it will be well worth it.

In conclusion

As the organisations that found themselves trending on social media for all the wrong reasons will know – it doesn’t take long to damage an employer brand. When the dust settles, it will be those employers who did the most for their people who will have the best reputations, the strongest employer brand. It will be those that, despite the huge challenge, found a way to look after their people and do the right thing.

For further information

If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around protecting your employer proposition or any aspect of your talent attraction strategy just drop me a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea and a biscuit.