The workplace looks different than it did two years ago — if there’s even still a “place” at all. The fact is, we’ve entered the era of blended, dispersed, relocated, and remote workforces.
Meanwhile, your employees are recognizing their own radically shifting expectations and needs, as the “Great Resignation” has shown down in the US. According to Gartner, 86% of organizations have to change to remote interviewing to compete for talent, recognizing employees’ needs for flexibility in when, where, and how they work.
Some organizations, such as Indeed, went remote from the beginning. And we’re finding out that it’s entirely possible to have a great employer brand while being remote. In fact, some say you should craft your brand with remote in mind regardless of your return-to-office plans because your employer brand is about so much more than the free snacks and ping-pong tables in the breakroom.
So how do you ensure that your employer brand is rooted in the uniqueness of its people and their values, rather than its place? It’s simpler than you think.
Evaluate your EVP
A great place to start is to evaluate your employee value proposition (EVP) to ensure it factors in the employee experience. But benefits, salary, and a nice office space are only the beginning.
Take a closer look at the work culture you’ve evolved. Employees want to feel empowered to do their best work and make decisions autonomously while trusting that they have the space and potential for continued growth. Start asking some deeper questions: Do you empower communication, connection, and collaboration among your workforce? In what ways do you celebrate and foster growth?
Once you’ve got those pieces in place, look at them through the lens of a remote-first environment, one in which employees still feel a strong sense of support and camaraderie regardless of their location. Even if not every job can be remote, envision yourself as an organization with a more remote-friendly culture; candidates want remote and flexible working arrangements, with the promise of being able to grow into a job that offers more flexibility.
On that note, also keep in mind that you don’t have to be fully remote for your employer brand presence to reflect a culture of flexibility. If you have an inclusive, diverse, and people-centric culture that recognizes employees as individuals with different lives and needs, then celebrate that. If you upgraded your technology in the pandemic to better enable people to get their work done and live their lives, that’s a big added value. Or maybe you revised your management approach to give your managers and teams more autonomy and flexibility. These are all aspects of an EVP that effectively convey what your remote or hybrid workplace has to offer.
Pass the “duck test”
You know the old adage: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Similarly, your employer brand should consistently embody your mission, purpose, values, and story; if your online presence doesn’t consistently convey what you stand for, savvy job searchers will sniff that out in a nanosecond.
Your online presence includes a range of different channels and formats, such as your website, jobs and careers pages, employee portal, social media, emails, texts, and imagery — but it also includes the actions you take. If you’re not conducting remote interviews, you’re not going to be taken seriously as a remote employer. A recent survey by Robert Half found that 49% of companies in Canada were still conducting interviews virtually at the end of last year. Rather than a temporary fix, it’s a cultural shift. That passes the “duck test.”
Remote culture leaders
There are some great examples of employers with an enduring identity as a remote brand. Here are just a few examples:
Translation and localization tech firm Lionbridge, offering both remote and on-site jobs. Everything in its online presence — from its company page to social channels — is consistent, conveying a passion for technology and sincere appreciation for its people. The website tells a story about the employers and what it's like to work there in a consistent, transparent Q&A format. The takeaway for candidates: you can be yourself, there are plenty of growth opportunities, and the positive experience is shared around the globe, whether remote or on site.
Retail giant Williams-Sonoma, Inc. offers a range of remote customer service positions with some serious extras, including robust performance; referral and attendance bonuses; on-demand, paid training; and benefits offered after three months. It’s a very detailed, informational approach that also illustrates the direct benefits of leveraging technology to build a strong remote culture. It’s also a great example of how to sell an employer brand in a tough market.
Shout it from the rooftops
If you’ve got a great employer brand, let the world know. Your employees are your best ambassadors — just give them ample opportunities to meet, greet, answer questions, and tell their stories through social media, hiring events, or any other channel that can reach job seekers where they are. And if you’ve gone remote, make sure to reassess and revise all your job descriptions so it’s clear what your conditions, expectations, requirements, and needs are. Too many employers are losing great prospects because they haven’t revised those postings.
Given continuing issues with hiring talent in a turbulent labour market, your employer brand is more important than ever. And as with everything else, the old ways of building your employer brand within four walls can no longer suffice; the employee experience must continue to evolve to meet people where they are.
As more companies hire in virtual environments, the frontrunners successfully convey a clear, tangible employer brand that’s not based on place, but rather on people. Remote is simply a difference of location and logistics. But our humanity hasn’t changed a bit.