Employer Brand and Coronavirus

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

These are unprecedented times, and the outbreak we’re experiencing affects us all. As a company, your first responsibility is with your employees and their welfare. The Harvard Business Review has published a great guide answering questions all employers will have about this topic. And for management, our friends at McKinsey have a useful ‘nerve center’ framework that concentrates crucial leadership skills and organizational capabilities, giving leaders the best chance of being proactive rather than reacting to events unfolding.

Branding, marketing, attraction may seem trivial topics in times like these. In the short term, there are clearly much more important priorities, however, we deal with corporates who are running large-scale programs around talent attraction. These undertakings may be slowed down or even put on pause, but they will carry on sooner or later.

It may take years before the economy is back to pre-crisis levels, however, that doesn’t mean there won’t be talent challenges ahead. Most companies we partner with are constantly hiring tech talent, and with the search for antidotes and vaccines, I would assume the need for STEM talent will increase.

Also, we have seen employers providing the essentials of life; food, health care, energy, even telecoms are ramping up their hiring. Amazon is taking on 100,000 new employees in the US, to cope with an unprecedented surge in demand for online deliveries during the outbreak.

Employer brand is more than talent attraction, however, one huge element is employee experience which will be a focal point for talent teams in the short- to mid-term. Keeping your best people, developing and looking after them will be key. How is your company faring with talent in terms of supporting employees through this difficult period? How are other companies in your industry doing? What’s best practice in your sector?

Stories such as what companies are offering sick leave, which ones aren’t, will affect the employer reputation of these companies. We are seeing a lot of commentary from talent around a number of topics relating to benefits, salary, wellbeing, flexibility and remote working. If there’s anything we learned from previous crises, it’s that there will be a day of taking stock once things get back to some kind of normality.

We’re currently having conversations with clients are around how they handle this situation as employers, how this will impact their overall business reputation, and how they will be perceived on the other side. To help you work within this climate, we are now embedding this as part of our standard Employer Brand Index reports, and we believe it’s something that will be very useful across the business.

As an additional layer of analysis, we now:

  • Analyze sentiment around what is, and what is not, being done about the Coronavirus situation in your company. 
  • Give you a clear view of what candidates, employees, and alumni feel about your company in a time of disruption. 
  • Highlight the wellbeing aspect of the current situation, including themes such as self-isolation, mental health, and anxiety. 
  • Help understand how remote working practices are being perceived, and how they could be improved. 

Is there anything else that you’d value around this for your company? We’d be very happy to have a conversation to see how we can add value. 

In addition to this, we are currently working on some soon-to-be-public research into how top employers are being perceived during this situation, it will be released in the coming days on this site.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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