Why the Great Reshuffle Demands You Up Your Employer Brand Game — and 5 Ways to Do It

Jan 6, 2023

If rethinking your employer brand is low on your priority list, today’s competitive hiring landscape should push it toward the top. After all, having a strong employer brand can help recruiters quickly target and hire the right candidates for the right jobs.

Amid the disruption of the Great Reshuffle, recruiting success in the current market depends on a strong employer brand. Plus, it’s more critical than ever to tailor job postings to the changing needs of increasingly choosy candidates. Companies with positive employer brands (their reputation as an employer is favorable) receive twice as many applications as those with negative brands (those with reputations for being not-so-great to their employees).

“This is a watershed moment,” says Marta Riggins, employer brand and employee engagement consultant, “for companies to look deeply and say, ‘What are we doing to attract new candidates and retain existing employees?’ And, ‘Is it enough to engage them?’ Right now, I think people are screaming, ‘It’s not enough!’”

Organizations that boldly reimagine their company culture and employer branding strategies in response to the new ways employees want to work will have a clear advantage in the battle for talent. Here are five steps you can take to enhance your employer brand now:

1. Beat the drum about what your company is offering that candidates are looking for

If your company is giving employees what they want in these evolving times, clearly say so, loudly and often. 

Offering remote work? Mental health counseling? A four-day workweek? Share that news with prospective candidates in all of your job listings and candidate recruitment efforts. 

Marta says updating your brand messaging to reflect the standout benefits you provide boosts your chances of attracting and retaining candidates who are more likely to be a strong add for your business. 

“If you’re a remote-first company,” she says, “lead with that. Describe how your company is living your employee value propositions. Always lead with how you support employees — in your email outreach, your recruiter pitches, through your hiring managers, and on your LinkedIn posts.” 

2. Build an empathetic branding team that listens and learns 

Monitoring how prospective recruits respond to your updated brand messaging is as important as constantly updating it. This often requires a team of empathetic people dedicated to gauging how effective your branding is at yielding quality candidates and readjusting messaging as needed, says Rob Allen, VP of talent acquisition and engagement at GitLab. 

When building your company’s brand image, it’s imperative to take an active, data-driven approach. This will help you recruit a diverse pool of qualified talent. To measure the strength of your employer brand, you’ll want to track metrics around candidate quality, employee experience, source of and cost per hire, offer acceptance rates, employee retention rates, and more. Revisiting these metrics often can help you hone and optimize your strategy over time.  

Keep in mind, however, that there is no single touchstone employer branding metric that applies to all companies and industries. Your particular recruitment goals will determine the performance indicators you track. 

“Our head of talent branding was hired recently,” Rob says. “And the early reactions are very strong, bringing our remote culture to life and allowing relatability with future employees. With our growing focus on recruitment marketing and employment branding effectiveness, they can start to envision what their professional and personal lives would be like if they had a career at GitLab, and that’s the whole idea.”

Rob says talent branding teams should be as sensitive and understanding as possible right now. “Employees have to homeschool children and deal with a rise in sick family members,” he says. “That’s why we need to bring more humility and empathy to recruitment. We all face challenges inside and outside the workplace. Employers must respond by making sure their employees and prospective employees know they will feel supported throughout their lives, not just during working hours.” 

3. Be open about your company policies on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

Update your social media, job postings, and marketing to reflect your policies and programs that ensure equal career opportunities for people from all walks of life. The job descriptions at MOD Pizza, for instance, are inclusive of people with disabilities by design. They detail the physical rigors of each job and walk candidates through available accommodations, helping the company stand out from the pack. 

Similarly, Target makes it clear that store directors are also responsible for DEI efforts. The retailer even holds individual employees accountable for “proactively managing bias” and “modeling inclusive behaviors,” according to some of its recent job postings. 

It’s critical that your employer brand — especially when it trumpets diversity — is aligned with your actions. “It’s great,” says Danny Guillory, VP and chief diversity officer at Dropbox, “to put something up on Instagram that says you support Black Lives Matter, but what have you actually done?” 

Melissa Thompson, the global head of talent acquisition at Ford Motor Company, echoes that sentiment. She warns: “If you’re saying one thing and then people arrive and see something completely different, it’s going to destroy you in the market.”

But silence is not an option. The best DEI posts — and candidates, more than ever, want to know what you have to say — will be grounded in empathy, authenticity, and accountability.

4. Flexibility is paramount: Take steps to integrate remote work into your company culture

Amid heightened COVID worries, an unprecedented number of people no longer directly encounter an organization’s culture by walking into a branded office. This isn’t expected to change any time soon, as millions of employees were suddenly forced to clock in from home during shutdowns and many are still choosing to. 

Richard Cho, former head of recruiting at Robinhood, says the mass migration to telecommuting is rewriting how companies publicize what they care about most. 

“With the abrupt closure of offices all over,” Richard says, “employees don’t have reminders of what a company’s employer brand values are. It’s now more about the individual employee and their well-being. They want to work for places that align with their new priorities and beliefs.” 

Of course, if it’s possible to invite candidates onsite safely, you may want to do that. But even with the exodus to hybrid and remote work, there’s still ample opportunity to create interesting ways for candidates to experience how vibrant your company culture is. You can begin by pulling together videos, podcasts, or slideshows about your organizational ethos. If you haven’t already gathered these useful show-and-tell items, consider asking staff for any pictures or videos they’ve taken of fun team gatherings, outings, and presentations. 

5. It’s important to be up front about how you champion work-life balance

Deniz Gültekin, senior manager of recruitment marketing at Instacart, says it’s vital to highlight how your company is not just talking about helping employees balance their professional and personal lives. You have to show potential employees too. Through content, in job descriptions and during the interview process, explain what your offerings look like in practice.

“We know there’s this shift of people talking about balance,” Deniz says, “but how does your team actually support people signing off to recharge? What programs or team norms do you have in place — such as office shutdowns, no-meeting Wednesdays, or summer Fridays? How do you specifically encourage work-life boundaries? Potential candidates need to know.”

Citi makes a special effort to acknowledge that this is a trying time for employees and their families and communities. Through recent recruiting efforts, the global financial services corporation revealed that it supports employee work-life balance by contributing “special compensation awards to ease the financial burden of this situation,” for example. 

The unique ways your company helps employees balance personal and professional lives can make your business more appealing to recruits, Deniz says. So, don’t be shy about tooting your own horn on the steps you’ve taken to reduce burnout and boost well-being. For instance, do you offer paid COVID care leave? How many weeks is your new-parent leave? Be as precise as possible. It’s worth the extra time and effort.  

Final thoughts: Employees and recruits expect more than a paycheck — and they’ve put brands on notice to deliver

Today’s job candidates and employees expect significantly more in the wake of the pandemic. They want more freedom, flexibility, and compassion from their employers. And with a deluge of job openings flooding the market, they’ll quit if they don’t get it. 

To find and keep game-changing talent in this new reality — and, ultimately, to survive and thrive — companies should evaluate and upgrade their employer brands. 

“The pandemic was a wake-up call,” Rob says. “We’re all human and we all face challenges inside and outside of work. To stay relevant, employers have a role to play in ensuring that individuals genuinely feel cared for throughout their lives. In return for so much dedication now spent by employees, organizations need to give back to help people feel supported in every element of their lives.”

*Photo by  Skitterphoto  from  Pexels

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