The New Face of Employer Branding in the Age of BLM and COVID-19

The New Face of Employer Branding in the Age of BLM and COVID-19

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The past few months have seen the employer branding landscape – and the world at large – turned on its head.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement, companies have had to radically rethink how they relate to candidates and demonstrate value during a period of unprecedented uncertainty.

So, what does it take to build an impactful employer branding strategy today?

Facing the issues head-on

Prior to COVID-19 and BLM, a successful employer branding strategy was grounded in having great benefits, being a fun place to work and offering employees the opportunity to learn and grow.

Given the recent chain of events, however, companies must now go above and beyond to prove what they’re doing to support their employees: how they’re taking steps to combat systemic racism, and what they’re really doing to change things outside of the lip service that they’re putting on social media.

The reality is that the social issues behind BLM don’t impact just one small subset of people. Minority groups across the board – including Asian-Americans like myself and people of other ethnic groups – are all part of the conversation.

These groups make up a significant portion of the candidate market, and failing to address the elephant in the room will have a negative impact when it comes to your employer branding efforts.

Recognising the issue and proving you’re taking steps to elicit change is the first and most crucial step.

Which companies are getting it right?

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employer branding, I’ve witnessed a handful of companies doing a phenomenal job of demonstrating sensitivity and meaningful action:

Indeed: If you look at Indeed’s employer branding content specifically, they really focus on showcasing their employees’ experiences, especially during the time working from home.

They made one particular fun video there where they’re passing on different items for costumes. It’s a super simple thing to do but not many companies are doing it – it’s a great way of differentiating themselves in the market.

I’ve witnessed a handful of companies doing a phenomenal job of demonstrating sensitivity and meaningful action.

Instacart: These guys have always had a tough job to do because they have to differentiate between what it’s like to work at Instacart as a full-time employee versus being a contractor who shops and delivers for them.

Despite this, they’ve managed to tell their employer branding story well and built invaluable goodwill through initiatives like the #GiveFromTheCart Challenge, where they partnered with Feeding America to help fight rising hunger in the wake of COVID-19.

Brother USA: I’ve been really impressed at how they’ve broken down exactly what they’re doing in the background to drive social change – especially the actions they’re taking in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cox Enterprises: They have always showcased their people and are true to what they stand for. Whether it’s interacting with local communities, outreach or telling their employees’ stories, they did great job of employee branding prior to COVID-19 and BLM, and they’re even better at it now.

Blizzard Entertainment: This is one of the world’s most popular gaming companies, and they could easily just ride on the coattails of StarCraft, Warcraft etc. But they’ve done an amazing job with their employer branding efforts – not just saying “Hey, we’re great, come work for us”, but really giving us an opportunity to get to know their people and what they do.

Nailing your EB strategy

There’s no denying it’s a challenging time for employer branding and the broader candidate market. But as the examples above demonstrate, it’s possible to have a positive and impactful employer branding strategy with the right approach.

When it comes to crafting or refining your EB strategy, my key piece of advice would be to really tailor your message to your audience. Some of the terms and approaches that work in one market may not work elsewhere, so it’s critical to know who you’re talking to and what they’re looking for, and build from there.

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The New Face of Employer Branding in the Age of BLM and COVID-19