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Nurturing your employer brand and employees

The coronavirus may have shaken the workplace, but the crisis will pass. In the meantime, take care of your employer brand and employees.

With all the measures being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, a lot of businesses are experiencing a substantial slowdown. But the situation is only temporary and everyone hopes that things will get back to normal soon. You’ve got to be ready for when that happens.

Given the current labour shortage, business leaders should reassure their employees and make sure their experience remains as positive as possible. Let your corporate values shine through.

Speak through your employer brand

An employer brand is much more than just a company name and logo. It’s your personality. It’s your DNA. Use it to say what makes your business unique. Your employees play a dual role by contributing to the brand and acting as its ambassadors.

Despite the current situation, you need to stay true to your business culture and employer brand. This means taking care of your team. If you have to make tough choices—like cutting hours, switching up responsibilities and temporarily laying off employees—you’ve got to be open about it. It’s the only way you can gain and maintain their trust.

The way you handle the situation and implement changes can have a big impact on your image, both inside and outside the organization.

Be transparent about changes and layoffs

Regular and transparent communications are essential in the current circumstances. You may need to adjust your leadership style, show empathy and explain the rationale behind hard decisions. Make sure your communications address any changes in the situation. These best practices apply all the time, but they’re now more important than ever.

If the crisis is forcing you to lay off workers, make sure you provide these individuals with the information they need and let them know what your next steps will be. Designate an internal contact person who can answer any questions they may have about human resources matters. Keep in touch with laid-off employees so that they still feel like they’re part of your team.

For answers about the administrative side of layoffs and managing employees in times of crisis, consult our frequently asked questions.

Support employees and managers working from home

Employees may be feeling ungrounded, especially if their team has been restructured or if they’ve been asked to work from home. In either case, there are things you can do to improve their experience as company employees.

Set a schedule

Plan one-on-one and group meetings. You may want to check in more frequently at first, but that need will likely subside as everyone gets used to the new reality.

Give feedback

Use meetings to provide regular feedback and words of encouragement to employees working from home.

Delegate responsibilities

Since working remotely can make it harder to cascade information, hand power over to your teams. Consider creating sub-groups to handle specific tasks or projects.

Make professional development a priority

Capitalize on downtime by offering your team training. This includes self-guided study, knowledge sharing and mentorship arrangements.

Set realistic goals

With the current situation being what it is, you may need to adjust your team’s performance targets. Some people take longer than others to adapt to change. Since the crisis has undoubtedly disrupted your business’ ecosystem (clients, suppliers, public health directives, etc.), review your goals and make sure they’re achievable in the current context. Then communicate these objectives with your team and keep the lines of communication open on how you’re going to attain them.

Encourage employees to talk to each other

Social distancing measures and telework have made us all appreciate the importance of interpersonal connections in the workplace. When we let colleagues glimpse into our homes, we’re more likely to connect on a personal level. You can prevent people from feeling isolated and boost team spirit with online social events, like a virtual after-work cocktail.

For other measures to adapt your business practices to telework, see our article on the topic.

Remember that the crisis—and your response to it—will leave their mark on employees. The decisions you make today will affect their relationship with the company in the future. You’ve already invested substantially in your employer brand, so don’t let it all go down the drain.

Keep delivering on your promise and you’ll come out ahead when the crisis is over. Remember, we all have a role to play in cultivating our employer brand. Let’s remain optimistic, collaborate and take care of our talent as we weather the storm together.

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