We’ve been working in Employer Branding a long time. So we knew that the day when Employer Branding would be much more central – and critical to – the broader business and brand strategy, was always coming. What we didn’t foresee – much like everyone else – was the global pandemic. So we’ve been watching with interest as the effect of Coronavirus speeds change not only in our daily lives, but in recruitment, talent acquisition and employee engagement.
Now we’ve had our theories confirmed. The Drum’s reporting on a LinkedIn survey of 300 senior executives reveals a number of important ways three quarters of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) expect their roles to change as a result of COVID-19.
For us, the most pertinent finding is that almost 60% indicate they will need to devote more time to Employer Branding, internal communications and learning and development.
This is not a change of direction. This is a hastening of the inevitable truth that Employer Branding has a business-critical role.
For further evidence, you only have to look at the many businesses whose COVID-era communications revolved around championing their people. These kinds of comms weren’t in any 2019 marketing strategy but were quickly actioned in those sectors where people played a key role in pandemic response: retail and healthcare, food, logistics and transport.
This is the very essence of Employer Branding and just the tip of an iceberg that’s depth of potential has yet to be fully realised. There are questions to be asked on just how authentic these responses were, and those will be answered by those companies who strengthen their investment in and commitment to good employee comms and engagement. The companies who see the value in their people and tell that story.
“Covid-19 has caused severe business turbulence and CMOs have been called upon to navigate the challenges ahead and fuel the return to growth.“
Tom Pepper, Head of Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn UK, Ireland and Israel
COVID-19 has exposed the trend towards Employer Branding. As industry insiders, we already know and see the challenges – and the opportunities. Here are those that we think are most important for now.
- More Opportunities for Employer Brand Managers
As the need for Employer Branding and good internal communications come into sharp focus for CMO’s, there’s an increasing need to bridge the gap between Marketing and HR. Each function has its own specific skill set. It’s in the gap where the lines blur – and that’s where the role of Employer Brand Manager can bring everything back into sharp focus.
Many of the big corporates will already have an Employer Brand Manager in place, while others rely on Employer Brand agencies to bring the creative and strategic knowledge into the business through the HR department but again there’s a disconnect with Marketing.
It’s not unreasonable to predict that there’s a bigger role here for Employer Brand Managers to join the dots between HR & Marketing and report directly to the CMO to advise on how marketing can best interpret and represent the needs of HR, both internally and externally and working in tandem with corporate branding (which we’ll explore further below!).
We see many career opportunities in this area for Marketing professionals who want to specialise or HR people who want to broaden their skill set. In either case, our Courses & Resources are designed for anyone who wants to build practical experience and skills in Employer Branding.
- Enhanced Expectations from Employer Branding
Until now Employer Branding has played a relatively low-key role in the grand scheme of things. For those businesses who can afford to invest in it, it’s the icing on the cake that delivers cumulative benefits. For those who can’t, it’s an unattainable luxury without which they battle through every HR issue, day after day.
It’s also been practiced in varying degrees of sophistication, with some just dipping a toe as others make it a fine art. In any case, compared to the sophistication of corporate branding, for many Employer Branding can still be said to be in its infancy.
We know otherwise: the tools and techniques already available to practitioners of Employer Branding are as diverse, precise and dynamic as you need them to be. The level of detail that can be deployed is dictated by the needs of the business, and the knowledge of the practitioner.
Any CMO who understands the complexity of corporate marketing – and the fruit it can bear – will require the same depth and breadth of knowledge from their Employer Branding specialist. And the same results.
This again presents opportunity for any HR or Marketing specialist to up their game.
- The Increased Need to Avoid Employer Blanding
We’ve already touched on this in a previous blog. A bland Employer Brand does nobody any favours and can be counter-productive.
The challenge to ensure it stands alone and speaks specifically to all of the audiences you need it to – is increased if it is consumed by the corporate banner.
The job is not necessarily to integrate an Employer Brand into the brand architecture. It’s more nuanced than that. Homogenisation in this way also breeds inauthenticity. The real task is to ensure the Employer Brand speaks authentically, to a diverse audience that includes candidates and customers, customers who may be candidates, current employees and all stakeholders.
An Employer Brand that simply amplifies the corporate message becomes more corporate and loses potential power and impact.
Conversely an independently developed Employer Brand that works in tandem with a corporate brand to maximise synergies is really where you want to be: in the sweet spot, working independently but amplifying each other at every opportunity.
The COVID-19 crisis will continue to impact on work and life in all kinds of ways for the foreseeable future. Many of these changes will not be temporary. In fact, in lots of ways there’s no going back.
If upskilling your team or developing career-building skills in Employer Branding has just moved up your agenda, ask us how you can get started.