The new headlines are full of rampant layoffs in the Indian IT sector – some denying the development, others acknowledging it. While the situation looks grim, it clearly sends strong messages to the workforce – “reskill or perish”. And to the employers – “protect your employer brand and show your true character”
As an employer branding strategist, I would urge organisations to address this situation in two ways:
A. For Employers who are laying-off
B. For Employers who are NOT laying-off
TIPS FOR THE ONE’S DOWNSIZING THEIR WORKFORCE
· First and foremost, don’t ignore employer branding during this critical time. While most companies choose not to talk about their employment practices, it is advised to get good stories out into the media at this juncture so as not to severely impact your employer brand forever.
· The key lies in identifying a compelling connection between the restructuring and how it benefits your employer brand.
· It is imperative to develop a clear line of messaging for both external and internal channels.
· Make sure all your leaders are well-versed with the reasons and pass consistent messages to those affected (i.e. laid-off employees) and to those retained (i.e. existing employees).
· Train your first-time line managers and people managers to manage people out. They should be able to articulate the rationale behind this decision and also keep the one’s still on their team motivated during the upheaval.
· You will still need to pass messages of hope to your existing employees so as not to affect their morale adversely and breed insecurity.
· For the one’s exiting make sure there is proper severance pay, transparency on reasons of exit, fairness in choice and if you can offer outplacement services, nothing like it. Remember this is the time to show your true character as an “employer”. What you choose to do and not do during this time of crisis will grossly impact your employee experience and connection more than any wellness benefit you offer.
· Also keep a tab on social media, PR news, internal chats, grapevine, and SEO/digital marketing will be key to douse the fire before it rages.
· You should also use this time to get your remaining employees to focus on training, reskilling and upskilling. The receptivity would be much higher because you are allowing or enabling them to stay relevant in a constantly changing world.
· Last but not the least displace with dignity and respect. It takes a long time to build an employer brand, and one wrong move can quickly undo years of hard work. If your remaining employees see that you’ve treated the people exiting well and given them every opportunity to succeed elsewhere, they’ll have more confidence in your company. This will allow them to focus on their jobs instead of panicking. Calm, focused employees help protect your corporate brand during outlash on Twitter, Quora and Glassdoor. And the downsized employees will then continue to serve as employer brand ambassadors.
If you follow these tips you’ll surely have a much stronger, and better protected employer brand in the long run.
TIPS FOR ALL OTHERS – PayTm, Microsoft, Amazon etc. etc.
Well, I would just say “seize the opportunity”
If your company is faring well during this time of downturn then now is the time to flash the news on all channels – PR, social, employee networks,
Make sure news is abuzz with your good employment practices, company stability, future outlook, sustainable jobs, and leadership quality.
Messages around how you upskilled your workforce in time to focus on upcoming technologies like cyber security, robotics, Artificial Intelliegnce, Machine Learning or how you chose to be lean so as to avoid economic downturns or how your CEO took a pay cut instead of chopping off the workforce would fare very well in your favour
Use your employees’ personal brands and employee networks to wire messages of positivity and how they are working on technologies of the future
Showcase new and innovative products or services that you are building. PayTm just launched their wallet and digital payments bank and got Vijay Shekhar Sharma to wire the news on his social channels.
Get featured in news that talks about a positive economic outlook, Indian economy on a rebound, or companies that are building the future of India.
Release an email internally to your employees on how we all are safe but nudge them to focus on innovation, reinvention and future of work. Launch employee contests to create the future as it will motivate them further.
It is a perfect time to relaunch your brand identity and messaging if your company is going strong and use the layoffs period as a perfect launch pad. Wipro is clever as ever!
Launch exciting people programs and wellness benefits during this time. Get your PR team to talk about it, use your employees social network to showcase them and get the attention your employer brand deserves.
Remember in today’s time staying topical and relevant is the key to successful employer branding! Be sensitive but be an opportunist also.