How To Manage Employer Branding Through COVID-19

A branding expert gives 3 tips to help your business uplift its brand during COVID-19

Employer Branding

Managing your employer brand during this time may seem like a delicate balancing act between wanting to promote your business, not coming across as insensitive to businesses closing up shop, and supporting the communities around you.

While it may not be business as usual in many respects, this does not mean you should forget about building your employer brand.

We interviewed Marina Byezhanova, personal branding expert and founder of recruitment firm Pronexia on 3 important opportunities of employer branding that businesses should keep on their radar throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what she had to say …

1. Manage your reputation throughout layoffs

An unfortunate reality for many businesses big and small has been sweeping layoffs. In these times, your reputation for how you handle these layoffs will impact your employer brand, in both the present and the future.

In these times, your reputation for how you handle these layoffs will impact your employer brand, in both the present and the future.

“In times of crisis, how you react puts you and your values on display,” Byezhanova sayd.

For companies in crisis mode and shutting their doors, Byezhanova reminds them that when they start rebuilding, people will remember how they were treated in these challenging times. How you handled the communication, the sensitivity in how you delivered news about layoffs, and how you tried to help laid off employees land back on their feet will not go away.

Byezhanova points to Airbnb as a company doing a great job at managing their brand, despite having recently laid off 25% of their company. CEO Brian Chesky released an open letter explaining the decision for layoffs, explained the decisions for layoffs, and presented a clear path forward for impacted employees.

While they have had to lay off so many people, employees still view them in a favorable light, Byezhanova says.

Byezhanova advises small companies who might not be in the position to offer severance and other benefits to focus on handling the situation in a human way.

Taking the time to call each of your employees and helping laid off employees find new work will go a long way in this time. It will also help you keep a strong reputation and employer brand for the future.

2. Attract employees who may not have previously considered you

If you’re considered an essential business right now, there is a good chance you’re ramping up your hiring to keep up with demands. If you’re lucky enough to be in this category, Byezhanova says that now is a great time to focus on employer branding campaigns.

With so much talent on the market, and people spending their spare time on networking and job searching through LinkedIn, there is an opportunity to create positive buzz externally and position yourself as a top employer.

The market and people want to see good news about people getting hired and companies that are hiring, according to Byezhanova.

With so much talent on the market, and people spending their spare time on networking and job searching through LinkedIn, there is an opportunity to create positive buzz externally and position yourself as a top employer.

According to a LinkedIn report, the posts on LinkedIn that get the most engagement and positive reactions right now are the ones that are related to how companies are stepping up their relief efforts, whether their actions are big or small. If your company has a strong and positive campaign, people will be very likely to share it, resulting in a wider reach than usual.

So what does this mean for you as a company? If you have a message to share, be sure to share it both internally and externally. Create clear communication and make it easy for people to share.

3. Invest in crisis communication

According to the Institute for Public Relations, crisis management is defined as “a process designed to prevent or lessen the damage a crisis can inflict on an organization and its stakeholders”.

Crisis management should be top of mind for everyone looking to mitigate some of the damage caused by COVID-19.

When it comes to communication throughout this pandemic, the general consensus and direction has been to over communicate. Byezhanova says that she sees companies investing in crisis communication consultants.

Crisis management should be top of mind for everyone looking to mitigate some of the damage caused by COVID-19. 

People are still trying to navigate the different cadence and detail of messaging required to ease the concern of customers and employees. She says that the companies doing well are the ones putting out a lot of detail around the process and actions put in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety.

Byezhanova shares a story of one HR director who had 100 people returning to work and explains that this director took the time to call all 100 people to share information and eliminate the anxiety involved with returning to the office. This is one great example of how leaders can step up their communication and help their teams feel safe.

When it comes to general instructions on how to manage your employee brand during this time, remember to take health precautions seriously, put your customers and workers first, and handle each interaction you have with care.

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