In an increasingly digital and socially influenced world, branding is critical. This doesn’t just refer to products in stores and celebrities on Instagram—corporations and employers also have to consider their brand image. In fact, Corporate Responsibility magazine found that 75% of Americans won’t work for a company that had a bad reputation, even if they are currently unemployed.
For businesses, branding refers to how they’re perceived by others in the space, by customers, by current employees, and by potential new hires. Employer branding affects many aspects of employee management and is essential for leaders to consider, especially with the impacts of COVID-19 and the heightened awareness of social issues in 2020. But how might you improve your own employer brand during this time?
Recently, with the increased need for community relief and support, corporate volunteerism is on the rise. This type of corporate philanthropy not only helps shape employer brand, but also provides your business and employees with an outlet to give back and make a positive difference in a hectic time.
We at Astron Solutions are HR consultants and experts in employee management. Using our expertise, we created this guide to walk through everything you need to know about employer branding in 2021, the benefits of corporate volunteerism for employer brands, and how you might start your own corporate volunteer program. Let’s begin.
The Importance of Employer Branding in 2021
Last year, we saw an astronomical increase in the number of companies declaring bankruptcy. According to this Forbes article, the pandemic has exacerbated market challenges in several sectors, including energy and retail. In fact, around 100,000 businesses that had to temporarily shut down due to the pandemic are now fully out of work.
If your company made it through 2020, you already know the challenges of maintaining a business during a tumultuous time. Particularly, due to the move to remote work and the lack of morale from relentless negative news stories, you’ve likely seen or expected challenges with employee productivity, morale, and retention.
This is where employer branding can help.
Generally speaking, employer branding is a pivotal aspect of leading a successful business. Just look at these statistics:
- 9 out of 10 candidates will apply for a role with an organization that has an actively maintained employer brand. (source)
- 50% of candidates say they won’t work for a company with bad branding, even if it’s with a pay increase. (source)
- A positive employer brand can reduce turnover by 28% and attract 50% more qualified prospects. (source)
The importance of employer branding should never be underestimated, especially now during a time of economic instability. It helps you land and retain top talent, reducing costs down the line for interviewing multiple candidates, hiring to fill lost roles, and training new hires. Plus, having long-term employees will ultimately return more in value through their experiences and relationships.
In the end, you want your employer branding to reflect your company’s and team members’ values. This way, they’re continuously engaged and passionate about your organization’s mission. That’s why we recommend prioritizing corporate volunteerism and other forms of corporate social responsibility during this time.
The Benefits of Corporate Volunteerism
According to this 360MatchPro guide, “[corporate] volunteerism is a type of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in which companies encourage their employees to volunteer with nonprofits. This benefits both companies and nonprofits; employees will be seen volunteering with charitable causes, and nonprofits will receive valuable time and work at the same time.”
But how can CSR and corporate volunteerism help build a more positive and beneficial employer brand?
1. Corporate volunteerism can improve company reputation.
Studies have shown that CSR is responsible for more than 40% of a company’s reputation. 87% of modern consumers have even said they are more willing to buy a product or service based on a company’s advocacy for a social matter. Without some sort of CSR or volunteering program, your company reputation can easily go down in the eyes of consumers and stakeholders.
Even during times when your company may be taking a step back for economic reasons, giving back is increasingly important. This is especially true for larger, high-profile corporations. Without a dedicated effort to help the community, high-profile companies’ reputation can take a large hit. This negative press can not only affect business, but also bring down employee morale and engagement.
Specifically, corporate volunteerism can help your reputation because it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight your business’ CSR programs on a local, national, and international level. Plus, it’s an extremely direct way to offer employees a new way to engage with your business and community. You can publicize your employee volunteer efforts or even sponsor an entire event to boost these positive impacts.
2. Corporate volunteerism can align company values with employee values.
The events of last year have highlighted many issues that your team members are likely passionate about. Research shows that it’s more important than ever to take a strong stance and show employees that the company they work for respects and reflects their values.
For instance, the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey revealed that employees are re-examining the companies they work for with an eye on social good and impact, with 61% of Millennials wanting to work for a company that offers volunteering opportunities.
By prioritizing your own corporate volunteerism, you can:
- Show potential new hires that your company values equity, diversity, and community.
- Offer a dedicated outlet for team members to raise awareness and drive action for the issues they care about.
- Continue to work with current employees to provide opportunities for them to get involved in what matters to them.
Your employees are the driving force of your business, so don’t let their values fall by the wayside.
3. Corporate volunteerism can improve employee engagement.
Not only can corporate volunteerism increase your overall reputation and reflect your employees’ values, but also improve overall employee engagement and business performance.
Research has shown that companies that integrate volunteerism into their CSR programs actually increase business productivity. According to findings from Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), 93% of employees who participate in corporate volunteerism report being happy with their employer. Additionally, 54% of employees that are proud of their company’s charitable efforts are more engaged at work.
This is because corporate volunteerism:
- Provides team building opportunities, with 58% of managers reporting that staff work better together after volunteering.
- Provides an outlet for getting out of the office (when you’re no longer working remotely or are in a hybrid work model) and breaks up day-to-day work life, which is critical for mental health.
- Offers volunteer opportunities that empower employees, ensuring that they feel value in the work they do.
All of these benefits can improve employee loyalty, satisfaction with the job, and overall company morale. This has been shown to reduce employee turnover by as much as 50% and increase productivity by at least 13%.
Starting Your Own Corporate Volunteer Program
If you don’t already have a dedicated corporate volunteer program, it’s the perfect time to start one.
Corporate volunteerism and other forms of CSR are essential, but often overlooked, components of an effective employee compensation and engagement strategy. Utilizing a comprehensive program is your best bet to increase recruitment and retention rates.
In the end, your corporate volunteer program will not only benefit your employees but also your overall employer brand. The hard work that your volunteering employees put in should not go unaccounted. Make sure that volunteers are actively recognized and appreciated. This can be done with an email or with a dedicated page on your company website.
Without branding that engages the public and shines a positive light on your business, you risk coming off as ingenuine to many important audiences. Especially now, as corporations and organizations recover from the impacts of last year, building an effective employer brand is more crucial than ever before.
To help improve your company reputation, better recruit and retain employees, and increase productivity, continue to prioritize your corporate volunteer program and provide those much-needed outlets for your employees to do some social good. Good luck!
Jennifer C. Loftus is a Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions, a compensation consulting firm. Jennifer has 23 years of experience garnered at organizations including the Hay Group, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company, and Harcourt General.
Jennifer has held volunteer leadership roles with SHRM, New York City SHRM, and WorldatWork. She serves as a subject matter expert to the SHRM Learning System and as a SHRM instructor. Jennifer is a sought-after speaker for local & national conferences and media outlets.
Jennifer has an MBA in Human Resource Management with highest honors from Pace University and a BS in Accounting summa cum laude from Rutgers University.
Jennifer holds Adjunct Professor roles with Pace University, Long Island University, and LIM College.
Jennifer received the 2014 Gotham Comedy Foundation’s Lifetime Ambassador of Laughter Award.