- In the wake of the “Big Quit,” employers are searching for ways to attract and retain talent, and brand publishing might be one way to do it.
- Internal communications have become more asynchronous, with employees living in different time zones and occupied with more tasks.
- Employer content is hard to get right, but research shows that brands have a significant advantage when it comes to believability and trust.
Brand publishing can be a hugely effective tool for helping companies build awareness and engagement among current and prospective clients and customers.
But increasingly, brands are creating content designed to help engage and influence audiences within their own companies, too.
- Nike is looking for a global editorial director who will “build and deliver an employee communications content and editorial strategy that is as inspiring and meaningful to employees as [its] brand is to athletes.”
- EBay is growing a communications capability designed to “driving compelling employee communications and cultural change.”
- Visa wants to hire a storyteller who writes and produces content to “help employees understand what is happening within the division and how it aligns with broader organizational goals.”
Brand publishing can help with both hiring new talent and retaining existing talent, and brands should consider using well-written, interesting and engaging editorial content as a critical tool when it comes to managing and growing employee engagement. After the events of the past few years, retaining and engaging talent is now a priority for many companies. Many of their staffers are rethinking their jobs, career trajectories, lifestyles and goals.
The talent crunch
The world of work and employee-employer relationships have become more complicated. Employers are struggling to retain talent, and the so-called “Big Quit” has led to many workers – primarily white-collar and middle-management – quitting their jobs in search of new opportunities that better suit their lifestyles, interests and needs. While the causes vary for the mass turnover many companies are currently experiencing, the effect is largely the same: More needs to be done to engage with current employees as well as hire new ones to replace ones that are leaving.
Brand publishing can help with the talent crunch by providing a new way to tell “stories” about the company’s origins, goals and growth, helping potentially retain talent or attract new employees. For example, brand publishing can be used to highlight certain career paths within a company to show employees, both prospective and current, how they may reach their career goals. It may also be used to tell stories about current employees through profiles and Q&As, or highlight interesting work certain team members may be doing.
New modes of communication
The pandemic pushed many workers out of offices and into their homes, creating a new legion of remote employees and a new way of working that moved communication out of the real world and onto screens.
Engaging with employees is harder in this new context. People are scattered all over the country, or in some cases the world. They’re in different time zones and contexts. They have a variety of different pressures that they’re dealing with, some of them pandemic-driven. Caregivers are fatigued after two-plus years of caring for children and families while juggling work. Others are simply tired.
For any employer, communicating with harried parents, exhausted caregivers and burned out talent is a must. But mediums for doing so can evolve beyond the HR Zoom call or the manager check in. Brand publishing can be an opportunity to address major concerns and challenges in a more indirect, less personal way, and offer a way to communicate solutions, or even give people a sense that we’re all in this together.
And even as the pandemic changes courses and even wanes, workers’ reasons for staying home have evolved – per a new Pew poll out last week, 76% cited personal choice while 17% had already moved away from their workplaces. All in all, 61% of people were now saying they are working from home because they actually want to, per the Pew study.
Employee communications in this context must become more asynchronous, and publishing initiatives can often be used to help bridge the gap. It can provide a way for senior leaders to communicate with the company in a more honest and direct way, through Q&As or even reported stories. It can also be used as a replacement or complement to all-hands meetings, town halls and other key pillars of internal company communication. Content can be a way to communicate with remote employees operating in new contexts, whether it’s to tell them about what’s going on in the company, explain and elucidate new initiatives, or even to connect employees with others.
Publishing initiatives can prove effective at attracting talent and potential new employees to a company. While job vacancies or recruitment initiatives of course are not going anywhere, a thoughtful publication that focuses on the values and mission of the company, communicates its origin story and where it’s headed and even highlights certain projects by offering a peek under the hood can give candidates an opportunity to imagine themselves at work.
Publishing can also be used to communicate the “hiring journey,” or set expectations by highlighting certain team members’ days. It can, perhaps critically, solve the “cog in the wheel” problem by showing prospective employees, and even current ones, how what they do fits into the overall momentum that the company is experiencing. Employee surveys or other data can also be communicated through publishing content to get a “pulse” on how the company is thinking
We operate in a time of lowering trust in the media, and there’s plenty of evidence to support that most of us could benefit from expanding the sources from where we get information. But the information bubble is real, and brands might be in a position to potentially break through.
New research from Edelman in January showed employer media is “more believable” than every other source of information, including the government, media reports, advertising and social media.
Media designed for employees can be difficult to get right; employee-focused communication runs the risk of sounding manufactured, fake and it can often be dry and boring. But data shows that brands may have a leg up in that people actually believe things their employer tells them, which may make them a credible source unto themselves. This becomes particularly important amid the crisis of misinformation that we’re living through. While no brand publisher is attempting to cover the news, there may be opportunities for them to use their employee media to disseminate valuable and fact-based information, particularly in arenas of health and safety, for example.
Relatedly, publishing can also help companies going through specific crises to tell “their side” of the story in a way that can help them communicate their point of view to the world. For companies, for example, experiencing increasing employee activism due to specific issues, or those undergoing external PR crises, brand publishing can be an effective communication channel if used appropriately and truthfully.