The moment that COVID-19 hit pandemic status back in March of 2020, remote work became the norm for most office-based organizations.
Although this shift is now a necessity for the foreseeable future, it was a swift and sudden change that was implemented focused on business continuity and health and safety. Little planning was afforded as it related to the impact on culture, employee experience and employer brand.
According to Statistics Canada, more than 40 percent of workers now find themselves in a work at home model since the pandemic lockdowns were enforced. That compares to less than 10 percent in 2019. Given that many organizations did not have a work from home policy, had not trained management on effective ways to lead in remote settings, and talent had little experience working in their home settings 5 days a week, this has presented a multitude of new challenges. With many medical leaders stating that we could be in for another 2+ years of waves of COVID outbreaks, there is little doubt that there will be a degree of permanency in work from home models. The great news is that studies show that whether at work, or at home, employees are continuing to get their jobs done despite the changes that COVID has made to our workplaces.
With 6 months under our belts, we have discovered that employees are not having trouble executing their assigned tasks and meeting deadlines, as once feared by leaders. Rather, we are facing challenges with employee burnout, loneliness, stress, family commitments, work -life balance and growing disengagement. These issues cannot be easily fixed by opening up offices again. They require a more hands on, personal approach to leading, flexibility, support programs and community building.
The synergistic force that fuels an organization lies in their Employer Brand and translates into culture and the employee experience. In today’s world, the sentiment from employees about their employer is more impactful and powerful than ever before. In recent months we have seen a multitude of organizations have to deal with PR crises & Cancel Culture as a direct result of how poorly they have addressed DE&I, downsizing, COVID pay, and toxic workplace culture issues. This has not only had an impact on recruitment, but more significantly on the overall brand value and share price. For some organizations, employee share of voice is in fact greater than the corporate brand voice. Your talent are influencing consumer opinions and buying behaviour more than ever before.
Even if you find that external recruitment levels are down, now is absolutely not the time to put on the brakes. With a decline in engagement levels globally and a dip in employee net promoter score by more than 10%, talent is much less passive than employers think. Our research has uncovered that a great majority of talent are currently asking themselves hard questions about what they want out of life, and if their current employment arrangement is meeting their needs. Now is the time to look at how your employer brand communications can turn inward, aid in internal movement, reinforce the “why stay” and reinforce purpose.
Here are some points to explore, as well as recommendations that will ensure your employees remain engaged as the uncertainty of what tomorrow brings, continues:
Its time for a Confidential EVP Pulse Survey with Employees
The best way to understand what matters most to talent at the moment is to conduct a pulse survey. Ensuring that your employer promise, programs and leadership team are meeting expectations in this new world of work is critical. This crisis mode is here for a while and it is time to hear the truths about what you are excelling at, what matters most, and where you need to change immediately.
Build or Modify your EVP Accordingly
For many employers the EVP will no longer reflect what is most important to talent. It may not reflect the company or strategic direction as a result of this pandemic. The time is now to ensure that your EVP is magnetic, not HR speak. Ask yourself if it is inclusive and resonating with all demographics. And that it speaks as much to your internal audience as potential recruits.
Make Your Programs, Experiences and Messaging Personal
2020 has enabled all kinds of great tech solutions, whether it is for video conferencing, online sales, or analytics. What is missing, is that personal touch. Learn what is unique in the needs and motivators of your talent personas. Whether it is stage of life (ie. working parents with kids at home all day), career motivators, or interests, the EVP messaging and employee experience needs to be more personal than ever. As consumers we are now bombarded with options to customize and refine our purchases to meet our personal needs. Talent expect the same for their employee experience. Your Zoom Meetings every week may work really well for some, but drive major bouts of family crisis for others. In a remote world it is easy to focus on project management vs people leadership.
Remember that your employees are your best asset
We talk a lot about employee share of voice, and how the best sales for an organization – whether you are in B2B or B2C business – are your employees. The truth is that more engaged employees will always care about your customer satisfaction, which is better for your business.
Rebuild Your Employer Branding Strategy
Maintaining your employer brand takes work. It’s an ongoing process that requires understanding your employee experience and what employees value most, building on the best of what you have to offer, and then closing any gaps. This is especially true during and following a major change like remote work because of a global pandemic.. Use any adjustment period to listen, reinforce the behaviours you want to see, and to lean in and deliver what employees value most. If you’re able to do this, you’ll be on the path to building a resilient employer brand and culture that can withstand any change.
If you would like to learn more about employer branding and how we can help you build a resilient and best-in-class corporate culture, call Blu Ivy today at 647-308-2352.