In 2020 the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic saw progressive companies moving employer branding rapidly to the centre stage of their agendas. For some companies, the concept of employer branding became a new discovery as the pandemic highlighted that placing the safety and wellbeing of one’s employees before profits was essential if they were to remain in business.

We witnessed many companies undergoing restructuring, with having to lay off, furlough, or reduce employees’ working hours.

At the same time leaders were challenged to ensure that productivity continued as they moved employees into their safe WFH environments. Companies continue to improvise, working tirelessly towards keeping their cultures alive; nurturing the values that bind their remote workforce together.

Companies have had to re-engage employees and rethink their talent acquisition strategies

As we reflect on the last two years, leaders have been consumed with “getting up front and personal” in valuing, listening, and understanding their employees’ needs.

The pandemic saw people viewing life through a different lens, with many rethinking their purpose, work-life balance, careers, and their employers.

Companies have had no choice but to adapt, having quickly realised that retention of their high-demand employee workforce has become extremely difficult, as employees are presented with a wider choice of global career opportunities within our virtual world.

The skills gap conundrum is on the rise and, while critical, it provides companies with an opportunity to rethink and innovate their employer value propositions to become more competitive and future-fit.

What follows hereafter is what counts! Their approach towards how intentional and committed they are to developing and executing solid, talent acquisition strategies will sustain and assist them in retaining and securing critical talent post-Covid-19.

Progressive companies have invested heavily in their employer brands

Since the start of the pandemic, many companies have invested, and continue to invest copious amounts of time, money, and resources in rediscovering and repurposing their Employer Value Propositions to ensure they remain relevant and successful in meeting the ongoing needs of their valued resources.

Coupled with this, for companies to successfully scale, they have had to consider how best to remain significant in the eyes of the external talent market.

One can go to great lengths in building an employer branding strategy, run employee engagement surveys, facilitate focus group discussions and research the external talent market to come up with a set of key drivers, values, and concepts.

But how often do these words remain flowery and meaningless, and often somewhat theoretical, inactive, and lifeless? We hear of leaders admitting that their innovative employer branding initiatives/accomplishments are celebrated internally yet they remain “best-kept secrets” with the external talent market none the wiser.

Think about what golden nuggets reside within your company that could magnetically secure you the best in class talent?

“All dressed up and no place to go”

The expression, “all dressed up and no place to go” aptly sums up how companies take months to discover, build and validate their EVPs, only to abandon them on the virtual shelf in an impressive PPT deck, collecting dust.

Alternatively, we witness the initial fanfare of companies celebrating the launch or repurposing of their employer brand, followed by the initial dedication to methodically activating bite-size content to educate, inform and shape their newly launched employer brand.

Sadly, companies undervalue this critical execution and integration phase of their employer branding strategy, viewing it only as a short-term three-, six- or nine-month roll-out plan when in fact it needs to reside permanently within their recruitment and talent acquisition framework and form a critical element within their HR best practice.

One cannot be ill-prepared without resources, budget and time if one is serious about remaining a relevant employer of choice.

An employer brand does not sleep and companies need to take a long-term approach versus treating the execution and integration as a “one-hit wonder” and short-lived! Annual marketing budgets are set aside for product marketing and the same should apply to recruitment marketing if companies want to remain ahead of their game in retaining, engaging, and competing for talent.

Consistent, reliable, and well-structured content and messaging are essential to implementing an employer branding communication plan, both inside and out.

As with product marketing, it takes time to gain momentum, visibility, and brand credibility in the eyes of the potential candidate market. Innovative concepts, design, imagery, and stories are what bring the pillars of your EVP to life, especially in the cluttered world of online social media marketing, where one has to work hard to fly above the noise.

(This article also featured in the CHRO SA under the title of “Employer branding should not be a “one-hit wonder” on 21 October 2021)