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Why reviewing and boosting your employer brand is vital in a downturn

A once in a lifetime event might not look like a blessing in disguise but COVID-19 has given hospitality businesses an opportunity like no other. 

Lockdown has become a ‘pause’ and a chance to think about the what, when, how, why of your brand.

Will your employer brand stand out after the downturn?

Businesses have the time to review and boost their employer brand ready to bounce back strongly once restrictions are eased.  Now is the perfect time to:

  • re-evaluate your objectives
  • review your employer value proposition (EVP)
  • take a look at your messaging
  • understood your customer’s needs in the new hospitality landscape
  • keep communicating

With innovative thinking, your employer brand could come out of lockdown not just well regarded but truly awesome and somewhere your potential talent pool want to work.

What makes employer brands stand out?

It’s fairly easy to think of employer brands that demonstrate, day in and day out, what makes them an organisation people want to work for.  Is it as simple as having a rocking web site, that shouts about who you are and what you do, or is it something more intangible?

What about those brands who have stepped up, pivoted their businesses, and created an increased brand awareness (and a new cohort of fans) in the process?

Employer branding is a key element of marketing

Steve Ward is UK and Ireland Business Director at Universum, the most recognised employer branding specialist in the world, with a physical present in over 20 countries to ensure employers achieve their employer brand goals, enabling them to engage the talent they need to succeed.

“In a recent workplace survey, 58% of employers responded that they were focused on maintaining an engaged workforce, no matter how remote, and considered employer branding a key part of their marketing and communication response to COVID-19”.

Strong employer brands attract loyalty

Employer brands that have acted fast, communicated consistently and innovated during lockdown are the ones that employees and consumers will remember post downturn.  One example is Honest Burgers who, within days of the announcement that hospitality was on hold, created an employee programme of events that covered everything from ‘80s themed fitness workouts to Friday afternoon DJ sessions, interspersed with skills training.

By creating an ‘opt-in’ programme, employees can do as much, or as little as they want and still feel strongly connected to their colleagues and brand.

Steve commented “Adapting your communications to fit your brand’s current situation is essential. Whether you are hiring new talent, developing your existing teams or possibly downsizing, how you support, inspire and connect will be remembered once restrictions are eased.  Ask yourself, do your actions and communications make your employees proud?”

A wider candidate pool post COVID-19

Historically the skills shortages within the sector meant that employers struggled to find suitable recruits.  The landscape, post COVID-19, will be very different and employers may have a wealth of talent to choose from.

So why should employers up their employer brand game now?  Surely if the candidate pool is larger, the chances of easily finding the right person for your role are greater?

Not necessarily. Pre COVID-19 candidates had become used to being able to pick and choose who they worked for and the benefits they expected from an employer. Even with an increased number of available candidates that will still hold true, particularly for the most desirable hires, and those in management and skills sensitive roles.

In the post-COVID-19 world, the skills and attributes of the people you hire will be paramount. These individuals will embody your brand, they will ensure your business runs smoothly and profitably and crucially, they will keep your customers happy and safe. Holding onto, and hiring, the right fit candidates will be paramount – and employer brand is central to this.

Employer brand strategies take time

Creating an enviable employer brand is no quick fix.  It’s about building a positive, engaging impression of who you are and what you do, over time. Something your potential talent pool can watch and align with. Speaking your brand truths, good and bad, can have a real impact on how your brand is perceived.

Top companies to work for in hospitality – are you one?

As the sector gears up to return some job seekers are beginning to look for their next role.  Since lockdown, across April and May 2020, 73,000 candidates have been active on the Caterer.com CV database with 19,000 new CVs added since the start of April.

Potential recruits are starting their searches with ‘top companies to work for in hospitality’ or ‘top companies to work for in 2020’.  Its logical as, in our digital age, a company’s reputation and employer brand matter more than ever.  The vast majority of job seekers don’t want to work for an organisation perceived to have a poor employer reputation.

Use the downturn as a catalyst for change

The downturn is a very real challenge to every hospitality business, but it could also be a catalyst. Getting your employer brand right should be a steppingstone on the road to recovery. Hospitality has always been about people and how they identify with and react to your employer brand now could play a significant role in the future.

Your employer brand is what differentiates you from your competitors. Take the time now to rebuild, make sure it’s unique, represents your values and ultimately you will attract the talent pool you want to work with.

Why is it so important to protect your employer brand?

Tim Foster, Director and Head of Awesomeness at Yummy Pubs shares with us why thinks its important to protect your employer brand

Watch the full interview here on our YouTube Channel or download the podcast below:

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