Countless articles have been — and will be — written about employees and company’s functioning as the Coronavirus hits the globe. This is no time for summaries, as we’re still in the midst of a rolling event, making adjustments as we move along in accordance with limitations or release directives that shift almost daily.
The new situation — which was almost completely unpredictable — creates business and professional challenges that have caused many companies to instantly shift into survival mode.
Once upon a time — up until about two months ago — employer branding was the hottest trend, a happy marriage of marketing and recruitment. Companies want to attract the top talent, and competition over quality manpower significantly increased. Aside from salary, benefits, work time flexibility and a promising career path, it’s important for employees to join a prestigious employer.
Many companies have invested and continue to invest in building their employer brand. As part of the adjustments organizations make as a response to the current situation, some have ceased their employer branding activity, in hope that market conditions allow resuming these efforts at some point. In my opinion, at this time in particular, bolstering employer brand is critical. Companies who continue to nurture their brand today will reap the benefits in the long term. Here are a few examples of challenges we’ve faced at Natural Intelligence, and the courses of action we’ve taken in response.
How to keep together, when apart?
People are Natural Intelligence’s greatest strength. This is not a cliche, it’s a fact. We take pride in the family feel that we’ve been able to maintain while significantly growing in headcount: from shared lunch breaks at our big hall cafeteria, to hobbies enjoyed with peers — music, yoga, mindfulness sessions, computer games and 3D printing — doing things together bonds us on and off work hours. How do we maintain this magic at times of social distancing? How to keep the flames of hallways chats still blazing?
We did a few things, including the following:
We set up a private Facebook group exclusive to the company’s employees. We follow a preplanned lineup of posts set for two weeks in advance, with three posts a day to keep the group active and engaged: people share their at-home workstations or homemade lunch breaks, we introduce new staff in fun video clips and post updates and commentary on news and recent events. Data-driven that we are, we track the metrics and optimize our content to reach and engage as many of our employees as possible.
We hold online events of all types and forums — cross-company, business-unit specific or team-centric. Some of these events are pure fun: bingo sessions, a virtual drink-and-mingle, a casual coffee break.
Others are more somber, as we take time to honor national events and holidays (we’ve had quite a few of those in the past month). Some get-togethers are strictly professional: meetups and webinars on various topics.
Careful advance planning, task management in accordance with a Gantt plan and meticulous performance tracking, enable us to adjust the content and continually improve, reaching an ever-growing level of engagement. Most importantly, our professional approach to team bonding ensures that we maintain the sense of togetherness, even when apart.
Additionally, we initiated an organizational survey during the pick of the stress, to deeply understand peoples’ perception about our company condition, how management handles the situation and their level of confidence regarding the resources (we equipped employees with computers, screens, ergonomic chairs & network) and support they get to help them through this period.
In parallel, we wanted to better understand what are the main challenges and concerns they are facing while working remotely in order to tailor the best activities for their needs (such as: children activity, CV writing & interview workshop for spouses that had to leave their jobs, how to act economically workshop, parental workshop and more)
Content, content, content
Before switching to Angular 6, I had to understand some key elements that might negatively impact organic performance.
People are stuck at home — how many more Netflix shows can you watch? How many more graphs of the pandemic expansion can you look at on the news? What’s left for the human mind and spirit is content that gives value, triggers interest and induces engagement with the professional communities.
We have 3 buzzing communities, with 1500 members each: a developers community, a product community and a marketing community. We devised a plan of content creation and production that would offer professional value to each of these communities. This content is featured on our website’s blog, posted in our Medium space, and further distributed on social media and through professional webinars. In the case of the latter, we’re surprised time and again by the number of participants and by the extent of active engagement and involved questions.
Unlike offline, venue-hosted meetups that take up at least an hour if not longer, to allow time for networking, mingling, beers and pizza, when it comes to webinars, my recommendation is to keep them concise, to the point, and no longer than 30 minutes. A click is all it takes to exit a webinar, so make sure to keep your guests focused with valuable, interesting content. Webinars are not only an effective way to share knowledge, they’re also beneficial to the presenters, who get a chance for professional positioning as thought leaders. Webinars also make for a great way to forge and strengthen professional relationships.
The medium is the message
It’s super important to be present on social media at this time, but it’s no less crucial to align the messaging, text and visuals to the social channel. Once you’re done creating content, start identifying which content is fit for which channel: would this work on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or maybe Medium? It’s possible that a single piece of content is fit for all active channels, but still, I wouldn’t use the exact same tone and lingo for all. Match your content with the goal and align with the audience in each of the channels — the language on LinkedIn should be completely different than the tone on Instagram or Facebook.
Additionally, make sure that the content you use is authentic — you want to keep it real to engage your employees, who are the company’s ambassadors. If the content doesn’t resonate with your people, you must have gotten something wrong: check the metrics and draw insights to learn what creates conversation among your staff. Part of your employer brand building is creating a sense of identity with your employees so they would be willing to share the content with their social circles — thus increasing exposure to your brand in the most effective and efficient way.