Global Employer Brand Trends – 2021

There’s no getting around it: the pandemic continues to ignite serious shifts in the talent market, and the Employer Brand trends we are hearing about. As people reevaluate how and where they want to work, many are leaving their current jobs searching for roles and companies that align better with their values and goals. 

As a result, employers face a pretty stark choice: evolve and adapt or be left behind. The talent strategy that worked in the past won’t work for you now, and many organizations are learning this lesson the hard way by facing serious talent attraction and retention challenges. 

Here are the top five employer brand trends we see in the market and their meaning for your company:

Employer Brand Trend 1. Supply & Compensation

In June 2021, there were a record 10.1 million open jobs in the U.S., and the U.K. faced the worst staff shortage since 1997. Businesses across economic sectors — from hospitality and retail to transportation, professional services, and manufacturing — are all feeling the impact of the worker shortfall, and the problem is likely to get worse in the coming months. 

In response, many companies are increasing compensation to win over talent and retain young employees. For example, a New York City law firm made headlines in June 2021 when it announced that entry-level lawyers will now make more than $200,000 a year. Goldman Sachs is paying junior bankers more than any other Wall Street firm. First-year bankers will now earn $110,000 in base compensation, up from $85,000. Second-year analysts will make $125,000, up from $100,000; and associates will take home $150,000, up from $125,000.. It’s not just investment banking making these types of moves, Bank of America and Credit Suisse also announced plans to up their junior bankers’ wages by $10,000 and $20,000, respectively.

However, while these big bonuses may get more people in the door, they don’t address the deeper work culture issues that are leading so many people to quit and change jobs in the first place. For example, a group of junior analysts at Goldman Sachs recently complained about the “inhumane” work culture at the New York City investment bank, citing 100-hour workweeks and severe physical and mental health challenges. Bottom line, if you want to attract (and retain) top talent, increasing compensation will only get you so far. 

Employer Brand Trend 2. Flexibility

Today’s employees aren’t interested in the cubicle lifestyle. According to recent global research from McKinsey, more than 50% of government and corporate workers want to work remotely at least three days a week when the pandemic is over. Moreover, nearly a third of U.S. employees want to work remotely full time. 

However, many employers aren’t exactly on the same page. Other recent articles have shown that some companies want things to go back to the way they were, or at least a combination of remote and on-site work arrangements – and are gearing up for a return to these working modes.

So what does this all mean? First, if you want to recruit and keep your best workers, try to offer them more flexibility in where and how they work. Even though 64% of people in the United States worked entirely on-site before the pandemic, only 14% prefer this work location – and they’re willing to change jobs if forced to return to on-site work. Almost 30% of those surveyed said they would likely switch jobs if their employers returned to a full-time, in-person model. 

What would it look like if you were to let go of past working models and fully embrace remote work? What kinds of systems and processes in place would you need to maintain peak productivity and efficiency? These may not be easy questions to answer, but they’re worth digging into. 

Employer Brand Trend 3. Employee Wellness & Burnout

A year of chronic, unpredictable stress caused by the ongoing pandemic has left many people feeling unmotivated, unable to focus, and less productive. Burnout is very real, even your employees who, on the surface, may seem fine are probably struggling too. 

According to a new study by health insurance company Lime Group, a quarter of employees are struggling to cope at work and over half “feel like they have to put on a brave face for their colleagues” and pretend that they’re okay, even when they’re facing a lot of stress. 

Unfortunately, over a third of the workers surveyed feel like their employers aren’t doing enough to support their well-being. Only one in six (16%) of workers felt their employers addressed their mental health needs and 40% said they would look for a new job if their employers didn’t do more for them. 

There is no “one size fits all” approach to creating a healthier work culture at your organization. Still, simple initiatives can go a long way – like being mindful about workload and work-life balance, and giving employees time off to deal with personal commitments. Regularly communicating with your staff and giving them opportunities to talk about issues they’re facing is also key. 

Employer Brand Trend 4. Corporate Social Responsibility 

Over the last few years, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become less of a buzzword and more of a must for businesses looking to remain competitive in the talent market. According to a recent report, almost three-quarters (69.6%) of global respondents said environmental responsibility has become more important for them in the past year. Over half (51.7%) wouldn’t work at companies that don’t match their beliefs.

The same goes for diversity and inclusion. Two-thirds (68.7%) of global respondents stated that diversity and inclusion is more important to them than ever, and over half wouldn’t work for a company struggling in this area. 

Starting a CSR program from scratch is certainly no easy feat, but there are a few ways you can begin. For example, if you don’t already have one, you can create a workplace health and safety program that will help protect your employees and prevent accidents and injuries. You could also get behind causes that are meaningful for your business. For example, through their Buy-A-Pair, Give-A-Pair program, eyewear company Warby Parker makes a monthly donation to their nonprofit partners, such as VisionSpring, to bring prescription eyewear to people in developing countries.

Employer Brand Trend 5. Employee Experience

The Employer Branding industry has matured beyond recruitment marketing and now more than ever, employers are considering all facets of the employee experience – their reputation, ways of working, culture, and workplace performance – to attract and retain top talent.

Companies are also learning that their employer brand can’t be one-size-fits-all. Employees wants and needs will vary across different departments and regions, and as a result, we’re seeing the practice move beyond the HR and marketing departments and involve other functions like IT, finance, and the C-Suite

Lastly, the bottom line impact of a good employee experience is being increasingly recognized. There’s ample evidence that a great employer brand can help to reduce recruitment and retention costs. However, in order to get the most out of employer branding, organizations need to properly invest in and prioritize this work.

Making Sense Of The Trends

While employers everywhere may be facing the same challenges when it comes to these employer brand trends, there’s no magic bullet solution to incorporating them into your talent strategy. Your employees are human beings with complex lives and preferences, and figuring out what they need to thrive is a crucial element of creating a plan that balances the needs of your company and your employees. 

Fortunately, if you need support making sense of the trends and crafting an employer brand that doesn’t just talk the talk but actually walks the walk, we can help you. We partner with organizations to tackle their most pressing culture, employer brand, and recruitment marketing challenges in a way that meets both the current and future needs of your people. 

To learn more about how we can help you create a more effective employee experience for your organization, or for additional research insights or inquiries on how to build an award-winning employer brand, please contact Stacy Parker at   

About Us 

Blu Ivy Group is a global leader in employer branding, organizational culture, and recruitment marketing. We help organizations across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors build extraordinary employee experiences, magnetic employer brands, and high-performance cultures.    

From C-Suite to Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition leadership, we partner with our clients to transform their organizations and design the most compelling workplaces of the future. 


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