#156 Navigating Employer Branding in a World of Hybrid Work

Blog header #156 Navigating Employer Branding in a World of Hybrid Work - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Today, we delve into a topic defining the future of work – the hybrid work model.

As businesses blend in-office and remote working, the challenge is to ensure a unified brand message and a positive employee experience.

So, how do we navigate employer branding in this hybrid work world?

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The Hybrid Work Model 

The hybrid work model is a captivating work model in the modern workplace, blending traditional in-office work and remote work, offering a flexible work environment that can potentially cater to the diverse needs and preferences of employees. 

This model combines – or at least aims to combine the structured environment of office work with the flexibility and independence of remote work.

It’s a reaction to the changing dynamics of work life, driven by technological advancements, and existed way before the global pandemic even though it started to gain traction during the pandemic.

The great thing about the hybrid model is that it caters to diverse employee needs while fostering a culture of trust and autonomy.

However, it also presents a unique challenge for employer branding.

The great thing about the hybrid model is that it caters to diverse employee needs while fostering a culture of trust and autonomy. However, it also presents a unique challenge for employer branding.

Susanna Rantanen

The goal for employer branding is to create a seamless employer brand experience, whether an employee works from a high-rise office in New York, a co-working space in the heart of Helsinki or a cosy home in Copenhagen.

Evolving Employer Brand in the Hybrid Work Model

Employer branding isn’t a static entity. It’s dynamic and needs to evolve with changing work models, the constant changes in the operational business environment and the changes in marketing.

In a hybrid work environment, the core of your employer brand should resonate in both physical and virtual workspaces.

In a hybrid work environment, the core of your employer brand should resonate in both physical and virtual workspaces. And that can make employer branding difficult as your employer brand stems from authentic employee experiences – wherever they work from.

Susanna Rantanen

That can make employer branding difficult as your employer brand stems from authentic employee experiences. And those can be very different depending on where people work, how they feel connected to their colleagues and nearest manager, and how they are kept in touch with what happens in the workplace and the organisation.

Successful employer branding requires ensuring that the brand experience is consistent, engaging, and reflects the values and culture of the organisation, irrespective of where your employees are stationed.

The Benefits of the Hybrid Work Model

If you were already building your employer brand before the pandemic and all those organisational changes that were accelerated by the pandemic, pay attention to the following.

Understanding what (permanent) changes the pandemic brought to your organisation is vital. No organisation that existed before the pandemic came out of the pandemic quite the same.

If you are now in a situation where you have to reassess your employer brand in the world of hybrid work, past the pandemic, then you need to know the benefits of the hybrid work model.

Realigning your employer brand more specifically with these key benefits and how they appear in your organisation are the important areas of iteration for your employer brand.

#1 Flexibility

Employees enjoy the flexibility to better manage their work schedules around their personal lives.

This flexibility can lead to improved work-life balance, which, in turn, can enhance job satisfaction and retention rates.

How does your organisation support and drive flexibility at work? And especially in connection with a better work-life balance?

Be specific and ensure your internal and external audiences understand what flexibility means for your organisation, but also what it doesn’t mean.

#2 Access to a Broader Talent Pool

Organisations can tap into a broader talent pool as geographical constraints are minimized.

This is particularly beneficial in a competitive job market or for roles where skilled professionals are scarce. 

However, if you are expecting employees to travel to the physical location, how often is it and how do you support the travel? Or do you?

Can you offer more than one physical location as an option, and what type of work is expected to take place during the on-site days?

The broader talent pool doesn’t exist if the rules for working at the office are stringent.

#3 Reduced Commute Stress

Employees can save time and money by reducing the need to commute daily, contributing to a better work-life balance. 

#4 Cost Savings (for the Business)

Businesses can also save on operational costs such as utilities and paying for much larger office spaces and other facilities.

Although some of these savings may be offset by the need for advanced technology solutions to support remote work. 

The Challenges of the Hybrid Work Model

#1 Communication and Collaboration

One of the challenges is maintaining effective communication and collaboration among distributed teams.

All internal communication is crucial to employee satisfaction and work performance.

How you manage communication, collaboration and dialogue internally can be one of the winning elements of your employer brand. This area requires a lot of attention and can make or break your appeal as a hybrid employer.

#2 Company Culture

Maintaining a unified company culture and ensuring all employees feel included and engaged can be more challenging in a hybrid model.

Your organisation probably requires a realignment process for your company culture because I’m quite certain your company culture has changed. And probably significantly since the pandemic started and ended.

Is your company culture up to date?

Make sure it is because your modern employer brand stems from your company culture and employee experiences. You want to ensure you are not building and promoting a culture that no longer exists.

#3 Performance Management

Performance assessment can also be challenging, and organisations may need to revamp their evaluation metrics and processes to ensure fairness and accuracy.

This is another vital element in employee satisfaction and productivity.

If people feel their managers have lost sight of their work performance and are no longer being evaluated or assessed rightly, it can lead to major dissatisfaction. And that certainly hurts your employer brand. Internally and externally.

I recently heard from a hybrid work organisation that they plan to bring people back 70% of the working week because work performance has suffered greatly in remote work. The performance of the more experienced employees has dropped significantly, and the newer hires are not learning fast enough to start delivering results. They figure this is because people are not collaborating enough. They are now wondering how this decision will impact their employer brand and retention.

Needless to say, it will impact both.

And they are not alone in this challenge.

The question now is, how do you figure this out?

Many employers are facing this question and challenge without the ability to “google” how others have solved this in the past. Simply because there isn’t a past with this challenge.

You are now writing the past examples and recommendations for future HR and leaders.

Implications of the Hybrid Model on Employer Branding

The hybrid model necessitates a rethink in employer branding strategies. 

The communication of your brand’s values, culture, and employee experiences, as well as your employee promises, needs to match and resonate with the flexible work model. 

Even if you are still not sure how your culture will end up looking, if you are in the middle of a change process, you should still showcase how you are adapting your organisation to the new ways of work and delivering customer promise.

You need to showcase and communicate the expected benefits your changes will bring your employees and how these changes will align with the organisational culture and values.

Being specific about what will be affected and what will not help employees understand and accept those changes better.

In crafting your employer branding strategy around the hybrid model, it’s crucial to highlight the tangible and intangible benefits it offers to employees. 

Additionally, showcasing real people stories of how your organisation is making the hybrid model work, and the positive impact it has on employees, can significantly bolster your employer brand.

In crafting your employer branding strategy around the hybrid model, it’s crucial to highlight the tangible and intangible benefits it offers to employees. Showcasing real people stories of how your organization is making the hybrid model work and the positive impact it has on employees, can significantly bolster your employer brand.

Susanna Rantanen

The hybrid model is not just a temporary solution but likely a long-term shift in how we perceive and engage in our work.

It offers a fertile ground to innovate and enhance employer branding strategies, aligning with the evolving expectations of the modern workforce.

And I’m still saying this, a few years past the pandemic, because I still see organisations trying to make sense of how their working models will be structured and what works and what not.

The good thing is that by now you probably have gathered enough experience and learned how to redefine your way of hybrid work.

That’s why it makes sense to make it official and ensure your culture, values and employer brand message align with how you envision your organisation tackling the years to come.

Four Important Strategies for a Unified Employer Brand Message

#1 Consistent Communication

Regular and clear communication is key. Utilise digital platforms to keep the dialogue going, share company updates, and celebrate achievements.

But select centrally what platforms you will use for communication and what kind of communication goes into which digital solution.

One of the key learnings during the earlier years of digitalising workplaces was not to give employees full freedom of choice on digital communication platforms.

This only resulted in lots of anxiety over constantly beeping apps breaking any chance for concentration and sound headspace.

#2 Virtual Onboarding and Training

Create engaging virtual onboarding and training programs that imbue the brand’s essence from day one.

Many organisations are leveraging learning systems to ensure location-free training is still quality.

Just remember to include tests to make sure people are learning and adapting independently.

#3 Inclusive Culture

Foster an inclusive culture that values contributions from both in-office and remote employees. Encourage collaboration and create opportunities for cross-functional interactions. 

Not all remote issues require coming back to the office. What if there were more freedom for people to collaborate face to face in their chosen other places, such as co-working spaces?

#4 Feedback Loops

Establish regular feedback loops to understand employee experiences and perceptions and also collect employee suggestions for improving challenging areas.

You can use this insight to iterate your hybrid work culture and refine your communication.

Enhancing Employee Experiences

Positive employee experience is a linchpin of successful employer branding. It’s about creating a supportive environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and aligned with the brand’s vision. 

In a hybrid work model, this includes providing the necessary resources, fostering a sense of community, and recognizing the achievements of both in-office and remote employees.

Navigating employer branding in a hybrid work world is about embracing change and fostering a culture that resonates with your brand’s ethos, irrespective of geographical boundaries. 

As we have stepped into this new era of work, evolving our employer branding strategies is not just essential—it’s inevitable. And with the right approach, the hybrid work model can be a catalyst for building a stronger, more cohesive employer brand.

Ok, that’s all for this week, my friends! 

Don’t forget to subscribe, leave a review, and share this episode with your HR and employer branding colleagues. 

Stay tuned for more insightful episodes on mastering the employer branding edge!

My name is Susanna Rantanen, and I’m your guide to building the modern and Magnetic Employer Brand!

Until next week!

Moi moi!

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