Updated: Aug 29
Most culture-forward founders will realise these days that employer brand matters. Employees evaluate your brand as a place to work in the same way consumers evaluate a brand in their purchasing choices. Employees also evaluate you just as you evaluate them. The more in-demand the talent, the more likely they are to avoid employers with a poor industry reputation.
According to one survey, nearly 4 in 5 employees research employers before applying for a job. Nearly 70% won’t accept a job from an employer with a bad reputation
Covid 19 has only accelerated this trend. With the world shifting to remote work, the employer brand has become even more important. Here’s why:
More competition: WIth the surge in remote work, job seekers can now broaden their search beyond a radius from where they live. This means employers have to sell their culture more than before to attract top talent.
Old perks don’t apply anymore: A bright and airy office, catered lunches, easy commute - all the standard perks don’t work in a remote-first world. Employers could get away with a poor work culture by offering these perks, but now, they have to work on their actual culture and reputation.
Remote work concerns: Remote workers have different concerns than in-office workers. Promotions, employee assessment, work hours, and even office politics work differently in a remote-first setting. How you address these issues will impact your ability to hire.
Post-pandemic stability: The pandemic turned large parts of the world upside down. In these times, employees may be looking for a reliable, assuring employer. Knowing that you’ll be there for them can be a source of reassurance
With these new dynamics in mind, how can you build a remote-first employer brand?
1. Build a better onboarding
Remote onboarding is a bit different compared to in-office; a common company practice to onboard new remote employees is bringing them to the office for one or two weeks so that they get familiar with operational processes, who does what, how problems are usually addressed – and to whom.
But what if the company is fully remote and in-office onboarding isn’t an option? For starters, you can craft a remote employee onboarding checklist; try to follow the same steps you would at the office but in a virtual way and find solutions for those steps you cannot easily replicate remotely. For example, now that the IT administrator will not be around to help new employees set up their tech gear, create a clear step-by-step guide to help new employees prepare their equipment sufficiently.
Next up you have to showcase the company culture to new remote employees, in a way that excites them about where they’ll be working. They’ll get hints from everywhere – how you talk during meetings, how responsive you’re in Slack – but they won’t be able to demystify your culture sufficiently. Make it easier for them; build a thorough culture handbook and help them learn the ins and outs of life at the company.
Make sure to check in with new hires regularly and foster an initial sense of belonging to the company. You could even make the onboarding social by grouping new hires together and letting them experience the whole process together. This will build peer sharing and early camaraderie.
2. Reimagine your vision and mission
As a good builder, you need to start from the foundations; the company’s vision and mission. Now that remote work is in the game, your employer branding will benefit from a tweak. You can brush it up and reconstruct it by prioritizing the new values you’d like to embrace. Flexibility, adaptability, agility are some of them; no, they’re not just trendy buzzwords, but rather, your main assets to succeed in the remote workplace.
Once you’ve updated your values, it’s time to integrate it throughout your careers page, company description, and overall messaging. If cool office perks – e.g. food supplies, play room – and a more relaxed office life were your “thing”, try to transfer these to the home-office life. For example, you could emphasize your priority to work-life balance, flexible work schedules and discounts for local supermarkets or restaurants and food chains.
The more you work on this new work framework, the more suitable candidates you’ll attract. People who seek remote work opportunities or employees who are familiar with this work arrangement will be able to tell if your culture is supportive and well-structured for that environment.
3. Embrace diversity and inclusion
With remote work removing physical interactions, this doesn’t mean devaluing a proactive approach to diversity and removing unconscious biases throughout the hiring/working process. Start by showing trust and respect to each employee’s different personality and strengths. For example, some will be more extroverted and talkative during meetings and others will be more introverted, staying silent and writing down their feedback when the meeting has ended.
To avoid these issues, ask your employees about their experience and their needs; how do they get along with their team? Do they feel like they can ping you when something is wrong? You could also run a survey to understand how inclusive your workplace is, how employees perceive it and what alterations they would suggest.
4. Choose the right communication tools
Remote work boosts the need for the right tech more than ever. Find the right collaboration tools that will enable your team to communicate effectively in writing and that enable personal and team organization. To make the right choice, figure out what your business priorities are and search for the appropriate digital tools and platforms that will cover them. Here are a few example:
For timezone management: TimeZone.io
5. Invest in upskilling
Let your employees flourish even when remote. Allocate some time and resources to helping them develop and let them evangelise your culture. Upskilling your team not only increases the productivity of your overall team but will help them align closer to the values of the company as they directly benefit from its growth.
From an employer branding perspective, investing in talent is a huge component of a successful culture. Building human capital helps build evangelism and retain top talent. This is also a crucial way to build your company’s reputation amongst former hires and widen the talent pipeline.
6. Schedule regular get-togethers
Live meetings and conferences can still be in your and your employees’ weekly agenda. With platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom, you can tune in with your teammates from anywhere in the world to discuss your projects in-depth or resolve complex issues that arise. If you’re a team leader make sure to spend time 1-on-1 with teammates individually and as a team to discuss openly about projects and other work-related issues.
But when working asynchronously or holding virtual meetings solely for business matters, how will employees nurture that extra human bond often gained from a coffee or lunch break together? They still can – encourage them to take those breaks the digital way. They could invite teammates and hop on a coffee break and chat when they feel like it.