Jonas Barck is Chief Marketing Officer, leading communications, branding and public relations at Universum.
After the significant disruption to recruiting and hiring over the last year, it’s become clear that companies need to make employer branding a top priority in 2021 and beyond.
From deciding whether to require vaccinations for returning employees to redesigning office space to support safe collaboration, to onboarding new recruits who are working remotely, employers are wrestling with entirely new challenges post-pandemic. And how companies position themselves in the job marketplace could dictate their success in attracting key talent in coming years.
Employer branding has always been an important part of a company’s overall marketing strategy. Fundamentally, it’s a company’s identity, a thoughtfully-crafted mix of its vision, mission, character, culture, and personality to attract and keep potential and current employees. SHRM captures its importance perfectly: “Employer brand affects recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market.”
And given the current state of affairs, it’s not surprising to see that projected budgets for employer branding and recruitment marketing have increased on average by more than 10% compared with 2020.
The last year has given us a chance to see how top employer brands perform under duress, and a handful demonstrated that even in a downturn, recruiting and employer branding must be ‘always on‘. Quick-thinking organizations pivoted to a virtual recruiting environment and were willing to invest in virtual internships when some brands pulled back. Looking back, these companies were not merely surviving, they were thriving.
MORE FOR YOU
As organizations and HR departments navigate this ‘new normal,’ many are revisiting their current employer value proposition (EVP). As LinkedIn explains, “An employer value proposition encompasses your organization’s mission, values, and culture, and gives employees a powerful reason to work for you. It’s everything your company can offer as an employer, in exchange for all the skills and experience your employees bring to the table.”
Given the significant shifts in working practices, as well as talent needs and aspirations, many employers have been re-examining their EVPs over the last 12 months. A greater focus has been placed on flexible working, diversity and inclusion, and training and development. And executive teams are asking themselves this key question: Is the EVP in tune with the new reality and resilient enough to withstand the many ongoing economic and workplace challenges we are likely to face going forward?
Answering that question internally and then adjusting employer branding will undoubtedly be one of the biggest HR trends this year. At a time when the job market is the most uncertain it’s been in recent history, employers need to make sure they’re presenting themselves well to key talent. Here are three ways to make sure your company’s employer branding is up to speed in 2021.
1. Believe in your employer brand. There is one major difference between the winners and losers in the talent attraction race. No, it’s not budgets or resources: the No. 1 factor is undoubtedly belief! The employers and leaders I meet who truly (and I mean truly truly) believe that influencing their future workforce in the right way is imperative are the ones improving their talent attraction metrics the most and outperforming their industry peers.
2. Rewrite your script! The playing field in 2021 is different than ever before and the rules have changed. It’s time to update your company’s script. This means your EVP, the careers page on your company website, the content you’re sharing on social media… What potential talent is looking for is decidedly different today than it was and your story needs to change to. Speak to what talent wants in 2021, not 2019.
3. Incorporate social responsibility. Studies show that millennials are driven by social responsibility and the pandemic only heightened that sentiment. In order to attract rising new talent, make sure social responsibility is woven into the fabric of your company.
Organizations need to take employer branding seriously or they risk losing out on the talent and innovation they crave most. Make sure your 2021 budget includes a major line item for employer branding strategy. The investment will pay off tenfold.