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  • Writer's pictureTrish Driver

Start thinking about experiences, not "branding".

It's Employer Branding Awareness Week, which started me thinking a bit about why I really don't like the phrase "employer branding". It feels a bit cynical - to me, it conjures up shiny marketing images and glossy brochures which don't reflect real-life experience within an organisation. And for me - "real-life experience within an organisation" is what your employer brand should be about. 

When we work with our clients, we always advise them to be completely transparent as they think about how to position themselves in the marketplace. If you're on a journey with your culture, and not quite there yet - be honest about it; if you know you want your company to be more diverse and you've not got it perfect yet - that's ok. Organisations need to be honest about this stuff - because as soon as someone joins you, they will realise if you've not been completely honest with them about what your proposition is. 

In these unsettling and sad times of 2020, with a global pandemic impacting everyone, and more and more terrible reports of racism in the USA, it's also important for organisations to be really transparent with their current and future employees about their response to the world around us. 

It may be true that for a while, this will be an "employers market" when it comes to hiring talent (a recent report estimates that 25% of graduate jobs have been cut for 2020, and the employment market is increasingly precarious). I've heard really disturbing reports of companies who are using this to their advantage and creating a climate where people feel they need to act in ways that are uncomfortable, and in some cases unsafe because they feel their jobs are at risk. And on the flip side, I've heard of organisations where people feel they have been incredibly supported throughout the pandemic, and have seen great leadership from the people at the top of their companies who have been open and honest about their own experiences, fears, and stresses whilst signposting a corporate direction which feels safe. The point is that for organisations at both ends of this spectrum, your people won't forget how you made them feel during this crisis. And they won't be shy about telling others about their experiences. Your people have the potential to be your best advocates, and the critics who are taken most seriously externally - and it's important that companies remember this. 

Finally, and most importantly, the killing of yet another unarmed black man in America, and the way companies choose to respond will have a huge impact on the connection people make with those companies. How organisations have chosen to respond internally and externally to the death of George Floyd has an enormous impact on how their people feel. I've seen friends and family members who feel supported and heard by their organisations who have acknowledged the vast and damaging impact of yet another incident of this nature on all their employees who are people of colour. Being heard, and seeing your employer taking a public stand is incredibly important. Equally, those who are being silent need to understand the impact they are having on the people who work for them. And again, those organisations will experience the results of their chosen response going forwards. Silence is complicity and will be seen as such. 

So what are we to take from all of this in employer branding week? At A New Normal, our view is that employers should be thinking carefully and sincerely about their values and culture internally, and sharing those in the most authentic ways possible. The individuals working for a business will always be your best advocates, and with Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn being such a part of our day to day lives, your employer brand can be built up or destroyed in a couple of clicks; a fact which is always going to be important to remember. 

This site lists ways you can contribute to one of the funds supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement in memory of George Floyd. 

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