This is a time of rapid change with significant challenges that we’re all trying to navigate. We’re relying on our skills, judgment and empathy as people professionals and communicators to support our companies and employees, pivot our strategies and take on new responsibilities.
That’s why for our RallyFwd™ Virtual Conference last month, I reached out to industry mentors to share their experiences and perspectives to help guide us right now. We learned a lot from these thought leaders, in particular our closing keynote speaker — Kathryn Minshew, CEO & Founder of The Muse — who gave us smart advice on how we can stay agile as both professionals and employer brands.
During her presentation, Kathryn shared several trends and predictions for how recruiting and employer branding are evolving, including how to respond to the rise of distributed and remote work, how content creation is changing (here comes organic storytelling!) and how our shared humanity can guide us forward. Her talk was insightful and inspirational, and worth sharing again. In fact, one RallyFwd attendee said:
I could have listened to Kathryn for hours! — Ashley, Sr. Program Manager, Employment Brand
Us too! So, we’ve summarized the top 3 takeaways from her presentation below, along with sharing video highlights from her talk.
Rally note: If you’d like to hear Kathryn’s full keynote, “The Agile Employer Brand: Preparing for Whatever Comes Next,” watch RallyFwd On Demand.
About Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew is the CEO & Founder of The Muse, a career platform used by over 75 million people to research companies and careers. In 2018, The Muse was named one of Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World.
Kathryn is the host of The Muse’s podcast, The New Rules of Work. She has spoken at MIT and Harvard, contributed to The Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review, and appeared on TODAY and CNN. She has also been named to SmartCEO’s Future50 Visionary CEOs and Inc.’s 35 Under 35, and was awarded One Young World’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2019. Kathryn worked on HPV vaccine introduction in Rwanda with the Clinton Health Access Initiative before founding The Muse, and was previously at McKinsey & Company.
# 1: The rise of distributed teams and remote work will redefine our company culture and how we communicate with candidates
The trend towards increased remote work was already happening pre-COVID, but now the global pandemic has accelerated this trend and made working remotely very much an accepted, even preferred, way for companies to operate. Kathryn shared that many Muse employers are going fully or partially remote for the foreseeable future or even permanently.
While 4% of the U.S. workforce was working from home at least half the time pre-COVID, Global Workplace Analytics predicts that about 30% of people will work from home multiple days a week after the pandemic.
Kathryn believes this will change many tangible things, like office layouts and lease obligations. But it will also have a big impact on our corporate culture, our employer brands and how we recruit.
Kathryn’s recommended actions:
Since employer branding teams have a responsibility for promoting company culture, we’ll need to work together with our leaders, hiring managers and teams to define and address how changes in remote and distributed work will affect our culture. Consider: how can you maintain important elements of your culture virtually?
Once you understand what your new remote culture looks like (whether interim or permanent), it’s important to reflect that authentically when communicating your company culture to candidates. Finding ways to share your culture is more important than ever since candidates aren’t able to learn about your culture through in-person cues that they would have previously received through interviews and meeting the team face to face.
To communicate your culture effectively, you’ll need to provide your recruiters with content and information that answers the following types of culture and employee experience questions:
- How does work get done on your team?
- What are your distributed norms and strategies?
- How do people interact with each other?
- What digital tools do you use?
- What kind of virtual events, activities and programs do you facilitate?
#2: Employee storytelling must become more organic and less produced
Kathryn believes that the entire way we think about video and employee stories is going to need to change.
Employee stories are valuable for candidates because this type of Recruitment Marketing content gives candidates a feel for your corporate culture, your company values and your employee experience. And as mentioned before, when candidates don’t have any in-person interviews or office tours, we need to find new ways to help candidates “connect” with our people.
Going forward, the way that we tell employee stories will need to shift because the type of content people want to see is changing. While this has been a growing trend, there is an even greater demand from people now to see inside a company in an authentic and #unfiltered way.
COVID-19 has precipitated and normalized organic video because we’re now accustomed to communicating with each other through Zoom calls where children and pets are coming into the frame. We’re watching Instagram Stories and Instagram Live. Even organizations like TED and media mainstays like “Saturday Night Live” are picking up a less produced tone, giving us a glimpse into people’s real lives without all the polish.
All of this will impact the type of recruiting content people want to interact with too. Yet, currently, only one quarter of employers are leveraging employee-generated content (EGC). In a poll of RallyFwd attendees, just 25% said they use EGC in recruiting.
Kathryn’s recommended actions:
The day of the overly produced, staged and highly-expensive employer branding videos are on the decline, says Kathryn. And this prediction coming from Kathryn, whose company is known for creating produced employer brand videos! (She also shared that The Muse has recently launched employee-generated video and text testimonials, building off of jobseeker and employer feedback regarding new types of content.)
Kathryn sees candidate behavior shifting instead towards short-form, employee-produced videos and images. People want to understand your company culture straight from your employees, which means they are increasingly valuing employee-generated content.
As employer brand professionals then, we need to think about ways that we can empower our employees to create this type of content. What type of prompts, training or tools might they need to get on board?
To start off here you might ask your talent brand ambassadors to use their smartphones to record short answers to typical candidate questions, and then share those videos via your corporate social media accounts. Or you can encourage employees to participate directly via social hashtags (think #LifeAtCompany). In either case, some of the prompt questions that you may consider are:
- How does your team collaborate now to get work done?
- What project have you worked on that’s made an impact for your customers?
- How has your company supported your wellbeing during this time?
- What can I do to be successful in a video interview?
#3: Companies with effective employer brands will be those that recognize and prioritize our shared humanity
At the time of RallyFwd, we were all facing the crisis of the global coronavirus pandemic. Today, as I write this blog post, there is another crisis of national importance — systemic racism and racial injustice.
More than ever, institutions, including employers, are being scrutinized for how they treat people. Kathryn believes that businesses that prioritize human connection and authentic relationships will be more successful long term. She told RallyFwd attendees that this is her “Don’t be an asshole rule” and it seems even more relevant today.
Kathryn’s recommended actions:
Lean into the shared humanity of what we’re all going through together and focus on the values that your organization holds dear in order to navigate these times. One way you can do this is by focusing on creating candidate and employee experiences that show you care and demonstrate your values in action.
While we may need to make tough decisions, this is a time to be kind. And I would encourage all of us to think about their role as a talent leader and as an employer branding leader to ensure that we are the voice for respect within our organizations. — Kathryn Minshew, The Muse
While many of us are in situations where our companies are being forced to cut costs, employees understand. But what they don’t understand is disrespect, she said. Remember that the candidates that you had to reject today, the employees you potentially had to furlough or let go, many of them will come back around if we invest in building relationships over transactions.
We hope these 3 takeaways from Kathryn’s closing keynote session at RallyFwd are helpful for you as you stay agile as a professional and an employer brand. If you’re looking for more tips and approaches for navigating the current landscape, you can also watch the other speakers from our RallyFwd Virtual Conference on demand and hear from 6 other employer brand experts shaping the way forward for their organizations now.