Norms are being shattered left and right not least of all for employers. Longtime cornerstones of work culture, such as conferences, travel, and even offices themselves, are all being called into question as we reassess the future viability of all these work life staples.
One thing that is important to understand is that, more important, perhaps, than what you end up communicating about your employer brand going forward, is that you communicate it in a clear and honest way that reflects both the position of the company and the conversations that are taking place among your employees. For example, this chart shows the increase in company posts about working from home in March 2020. Now, this chart doesn’t speak specifically to whether those companies were endorsing permanent work from home solutions; or advocating temporary measures. But it does indicate that they were answering questions that were on the forefront of workers’ minds when there was a lot of uncertainty hanging around. I personally know a number of employees whose companies were reluctant to send any message about work from home, lest they send the wrong one, and all it resulted in was a diminishment of employee confidence that the company they worked for had their best interest in minds or even a strategy in place to successfully execute their own interests. If, until now, your company has had a top-down informational structure without a lot of room for employees to communicate with one another and with management flexibly, consider changing that. A more grassroots management style may well be the easiest way to guarantee your employees are informed and confident in their employer’s mission as workspaces possibly become more decentralized.
Speaking of decentralization, consider relinquishing more control of your employer brand to the people who work for your company. Social media is such a saturated environment, and as successful as microtargeted ads can be, there is research to suggest that people browsing would rather see content shared by passionate individuals than marketing teams. The old model of crafting an image from the top down through the use of marketing teams, consultants, and focus groups may quickly become outdated as more and more companies outsource their image to relatively naturalistic social media posts from people who are genuinely enthusiastic about the company they are endorsing. So, let your employees talk about your company on their personal social media and express what excites them about your upcoming project without running the post through three marketing channels to ensure uniformity. May there be some odd incongruities in messaging this way? Sure, but the overall softening of your company image will be worth a little bit of unpredictability in the specific ways your employees choose to share their enthusiasm. Obviously, a move like this would have be based on strong best practices guidelines for public messaging, which employees would be strongly advised to follow in accordance with the added responsibility of speaking more freely on their employer’s behalf. More important than the specific policy or the ultimate degree of grassroots marketing vs. top-down messaging is establishing a trusting and communicative relationship that makes employees feel like their company’s employer brand is entrusted to them and molded by their experience with the company. If your recruiting and office communication culture is working well, you can trust grassroots messaging to work well also.