As an employer brand professional, you can protect your company’s overall brand reputation and help to manage risk during this crisis.
This can only happen though when we shift our mindset and think about employer branding beyond just a recruitment nice-to-have. Employer branding is not just about a good candidate experience, it’s about providing a good people experience— and if we start to think about employer branding differently, there are many more ways that it can benefit our organizations, especially during this time of crisis.
Employer brand teams can help during a crisis because we are uniquely positioned between the internal and external realms of the company. And we can use that positioning to help facilitate positive employee experiences during this crisis and share these experiences externally to influence our company’s brand perception.
Let me explain a bit more concretely how we can execute on this now and on an ongoing basis:
Rally note: If you want to hear even more from Marilyn on managing risk through embracing change, tune in to her session this week at RallyFwd Virtual Conference on May 6. Learn more about her session, “How Culture Could Save Your Organization,” and register for free today.
How your employer brand team can help manage risk
Familiarize yourself with the term “culture risk”
In risk management, the first thing you have to do is identify the risk, analyze it and try to mitigate or find opportunities in the situation. And when it comes to employer branding, that reputational risk might reside in your company culture.
According to Deloitte, culture is a system of values, beliefs and behaviors that shapes how things get done within an environment. Culture risk is created when there’s a misalignment between an organization’s values and their leaderships’ actions, employee behaviors or organizational systems.
In other words, there is a big culture risk that emerges when we’re disconnected in how we’re talking about ourselves as a company and as an employer and how we’re acting. Any team that has conducted employee value proposition (EVP) research will probably understand this misalignment.
The risk here emerges from the fact that if your culture is toxic and employees don’t feel listened to – they may turn to external forums to vent their frustrations, or start leaking articles to the media and putting out bad reviews on Glassdoor. If the values you communicate externally do not correspond to the internal realities of your organization, then you’re basically sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode.
Employer branding is about portraying an authentic reality that will help people understand your company values, and help candidates decide if you are what they’re looking for — not create a false positive social media persona. In other words, by “talking the talk” without “walking the walk” to build and maintain a great work culture, you’re only increasing the culture risk for your company.
Learn more about how to uncover your company values and use them to attract talent.
This risk is heightened even more during a crisis, because if we have messaging about who we are as an organization on our corporate page and careers site, but we’re contradicting ourselves in the way we’re responding to this crisis, then we’re opening ourselves up to a significant amount of risk and reputational damage.
Identify any culture risks by double checking that your EVP is authentic
Your EVP messaging needs to be rooted in the real, lived employee experience. Additionally, it should only include factors that are authentic to all stakeholders, not ones that have only been identified by a few outliers. Using this approach, you can craft a consistent brand narrative that will help align culture across the business and reduce culture risk.
If you haven’t developed an EVP yet, make sure that you keep those factors top of mind when you do so. As you pore through employee feedback and identify your messaging pillars, avoid culture risk by ensuring your EVP is universally applicable across the organization and authentic for all employees.
Read more about how to show your authentic employee experience.
If you have already developed an EVP, now is a good time to take a step back and make sure it still holds up in light of this crisis. Is the lived employee experience during this time still aligned with your EVP pillars? Are you seeing your EVP in action during this time? If not, then it might be time to make some interim changes, omit parts that no longer hold true and conduct additional research to identify a more accurate EVP that will mitigate risk.
Focus on internal employer brand and culture initiatives
While employer brand teams can be structured quite differently and can report into different parts of an organization, there is one constant across employer brand teams: our primary focus. Typically, our main focus has been on packaging up and selling a company’s unique and authentic culture. However, I would also argue that increasingly our role is also to help build the culture we want to sell.
Why do these two factors both need to be the focus for employer brand professionals? Because, as mentioned, when there is a disconnect between the external communications and the internal culture, you can see the repercussions quite quickly. However, when your EVP is activated internally and externally, you’ll protect your overall brand and manage risk (plus you will attract better talent and help increase engagement too!).
This connection happens when:
- You have an authentic employee value proposition (EVP) and brand narrative that is activated across business operations, HR programming and the lived employee experience (ie. not just used for recruitment purposes)
- Your EVP and brand narrative is applied consistently across candidate and employee touch points
- Candidates and employees are subscribed to this EVP and brand narrative for the entirety of their life cycles with the company
- Your leadership team regularly puts your EVP pillars into action through their communications and strategic decisions.
If you can achieve this type of connection, then no matter the situation your company ends up in as a result of this crisis (layoffs, furloughs, loss of business, etc.), employees will be more likely to be understanding of circumstances, more likely to stay resilient, and will probably still stand on the side of the organization, which will ultimately mitigate risk and protect your brand long term.
I hope the ideas presented in this blog can help you to see the immense value that you can provide to your organization right now during this crisis (and during regular times too).
We can only deliver this value when we start thinking about employer branding as more than a recruitment tool and start thinking about it as a strategic culture must-have. Let’s take this opportunity to reinvent our roles, and help build the change we want to see.