- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect U.S. businesses, employer branding messaging has evolved into themes of community, support and care, according to a LinkedIn report published April 21. The analysis, based on data of companies from January 1 to April 14, showed a rapid increase in LinkedIn posts concerning the novel coronavirus and telework.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised businesses Feb. 25 to begin exploring telework in preparation for the spread of COVID-19. In late February and early March, employers occasionally addressed the impending outbreak, and it did not affect employer branding, according to the report. During the week of March 2, there was a low percentage (4%) of company posts about COVID-19. Two weeks later, it was the subject of 24% of all posts; and by mid-March, "it was the main story and employer branding postings started to reflect that," the report said. In the legal industry, almost 50% of the posts referenced COVID-19, with public administration close behind. By mid-to-late March, many employers began posting content about remote work, according to LinkedIn.
- Engagement with pandemic-related posts from companies is higher than the engagement for an average company post. In North America, posts about COVID-19 have a 30% engagement rate in April, compared to 13% in March, according to the report. The choice of empathetic words resonated with readers. Posts using words such as "health," "helping" and "support" tended to have the highest engagement. "In short, it looks like messages that put people first perform best," the report said.
During the COVID-19 crisis, companies that show compassion will be rewarded with loyalty from candidates, employees and customers, according to Mercer, a human resources consulting firm.
Managing the short-term effects of financial downturn effectively can give employers more options when it comes to controlling long-term outcomes, Mercer said in an email to HR Dive April 20. Preserving jobs is a way to show empathy, and employers can do so by "identifying ways to redeploy employees within your company or even to other companies with substantial needs," Mercer said. The company also recommended strengthening safety nets; preserving flexibility by conserving cash and delaying increases and grants; and evaluating potential compensation and benefit actions to take later to improve cash flow, as methods to deter reducing compensation and benefits.
Verizon is one global company that activated new processes for HR teams to better support employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We felt [it was] really important for people to see our leaders, hear from us what's happening," Christy Pambianchi, Verizon’s chief human resource officer, told HR Dive in a recent interview. "I think in times of uncertainty, there's so much misinformation and people are really scared."
Stakeholders emphasized the importance of empathy before the coronavirus became a worldwide concern, however. A Limeade Institute white paper published in October, "The Science of Care," defined "care" as providing what's necessary for someone's "health, welfare, maintenance and protection." The company said that 60% of employees surveyed who felt cared said they plan to remain three or more years with their companies, in comparison to only 7% of those who said they don't feel cared for.