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Managing employer branding in a crisis__

When the going gets tough, the way businesses behave is put under intense scrutiny. It speaks volumes about them as an employer, their leadership and how they treat their workforce. That’s why in the wake of COVID-19, employer brand management has become increasingly crucial to building and maintaining reputations. 

But how can brands hold it together and even come out stronger while having to make difficult decisions such as pay cuts and lay-offs? We’re exploring our thoughts on what the future holds and how to navigate these challenges.

Be honest, be real & be sensitive

As job losses soar and seem an inevitable fact, the way these are handled should be managed carefully. The response from brands has scaled from the old-school, hierarchical reactions to the open and collaborative companies who are engaging employees with resources, tools and supportive messaging.

While Bird were publicly shamed by their employees for their brutal Zoom firing earlier this year, forward-thinking brands like Airbnb have been applauded for creating tools for redundant staff to find new roles.

Communicating with transparency is key, but it has to be done with sensitivity. Let them know how you’re managing the situation, but don’t oversell it or be blunt. As employees and job seekers look to leadership for assurance, companies will see steady growth from focusing on building trust and relationships. It’s time for brands to consider what they are doing to support the wellbeing of employees before they speak out. Whether it’s messages of stability and security, regular check-ins, practical advice, acknowledging efforts or virtual career fairs for redundant staff, integrity is everything.

Make it matter

Employer brands with purpose will drive trust and bolster communications with authenticity.

Since COVID, people are increasingly questioning their ‘why’ and how their work positively impacts the world. As the crisis leaves us feeling out of control, the desire to contribute to a better world in other ways has spiked. By having (and actively working towards) a compelling reason to exist beyond making money, brands will engage employees by showing them they can make a difference long after the pandemic.

Those who stay sensitive to immediate concerns but also tackle other issues in society such as climate change will stand the best chance of survival.

It’s more important than ever to evaluate your values and get to grips with whether your employees align with the ‘why’ of the organisation. Do your values leave them feeling a sense of pride for working for you? Or do they fail to resonate anymore in the current climate? Whether it’s helping the community or placing people’s needs first, we can help you uncover what makes your brand human.

Keep connected

Powering a positive employee experience will have to go further than flexibility around working from home. The pandemic has pushed companies into seeing that it’s possible to have a remote workforce, but the benefits of an office shouldn’t be sidelined. The emotional boost of being around others and the sense of teamwork and belonging are important for feel-good working.

Many organisations have shared best practices for working from home and some have taken into account unique circumstances for those juggling work with childcare. What’s missing in most cases is the emotional, human element of an employer brand – the soft skills and empathy that bridges the gap forged from blurring personal and professional lives. Distant working still needs to be social. Re-engaging employees after the pandemic will come down to supporting them across all dimensions.

Ask yourself if your brand DNA distinguishes emotional and functional benefits of being an employee. If not, we can build a brand passport to ensure you’re communicating clearly, consistently and in line with your brand objectives.

As the situation evolves, so too should your approach, which can make it hard to know when and how to act. The good news is we can help – get in touch with us at to find out more.