If I’d heard the term “essential worker” back in February, my thoughts would immediately have turned to healthcare workers. Even in a pre-COVID world, we needed them, simple as that. Fast forward to late May, and as the (very lengthy and 6ft-spaced) line of people outside my local Trader Joe’s in Austin moves slowly inside the store, people stop to thank the employees for their service.
The definition of “essential worker” has significantly changed, and not just in terms of guidelines or rules. The term itself now holds a meaningful place within our emotions – inspiring gratitude and pride. These are the people who put themselves at risk so that we could stay home. These are the people who helped us all to keep going – providing food, sanitation, infrastructure. These are the people standing outside Trader Joe’s in masks, wiping down hundreds of shopping carts every single day. So when we say “essential worker” now, it’s understood that this means those brave healthcare workers, but also grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, distribution center operators, and even fast food servers. For people like me who have spent their entire career working in an office environment, it’s humbling.
But as stay at home orders end, and hazard pay and benefits for many of these essential workers is walked back, has anything really changed? And if so, what are employers doing to reflect this?
For healthcare workers, “hero status” has rightly been conferred. We literally applaud them for their work. At a time when celebrities feel irrelevant (Madonna bemoaning this “great equalizer” from one of her mansions didn’t sit well with most of us), we are increasingly seeing and hearing from our frontline healthcare workers, and looking up to them as role models. Dr Fauci’s #PassTheMic campaign brings this idea to life with nurses, doctors and medical experts taking over the social media accounts of celebrities including Julia Roberts and Millie Bobby Brown.
We are far from the end of this, and the long-term effect on healthcare professions is yet to be seen. But, for now, while most of us are in awe of them, many people want to be them, with universities reporting a rise in numbers of applications for nursing programs (similar to the surge in recruitment of first responders that followed 9/11).
But what about those essential workers who are on a different frontline? Will the same hero effect remain for our grocery store workers, sanitation workers, and delivery drivers? Many of these often hourly-paid workers felt that they had no choice but to go to work or risk losing wages and benefits. There have been significant difficulties, and we’ve seen walkouts from Amazon, Walmart and Fedex, as well as fast food franchises and Instacart.
No doubt, it’s an unprecedented challenge for employers to manage, but they must realize that their employer brand and reputation are now one-and-the-same as their business brand and reputation. It should come as no surprise to them, precisely because many are seeing record sales at a time when they could not have functioned without their employees taking on some level of personal risk.
For right now, what are they doing to protect their employees? Do they have masks? What kind of leave is available should they become sick? Hazard pay was introduced by many in March, but is now coming to an end or being limited. Yes, stay at home orders may have been lifted, but for workers who come into direct contact with the public, the hazard has not disappeared. The way that employees are treated in these circumstances can – and will – be shared on social media. And it stands to reason that the safer your employees feel, the safer your customers will feel too.
But beyond the immediate crisis, how do employers share the value that their essential workers bring?
It’s even more apparent than usual that businesses thrive because of the people who bring them to life. And those people have stories to share. As essential workers during a global crisis, they have adapted, learned, set standards, and experienced new situations that the rest of us are blind to. Employers should empower their people to share those stories – and to do so authentically. Yes, there will have been times they felt stressed, and scared. There will be times that they didn’t know what to do. Sharing such insights only helps us to better appreciate and respect the work that they do. There will also be great, heart-warming tales that celebrate the impact essential workers have made.
I started this article discussing the definition of “essential worker”. But more important than how we define the term is how we value it. At some point this crisis will come to an end. That won’t make essential workers – all of them – any less essential. By celebrating the efforts and endurance of their people, employers can help to make sure that we don’t forget that value, and in doing so magnify their own employer brands and their meaning in society.
April Bryce, Director of Creative and Strategy
Havas People North America
I just joined the team here at Havas People, previously working in digital marketing for numerous brands and public figures. Coming to the world of employer marketing from a more mainstream background may seem like a big jump, but in reality there are numerous parallels and ways thinking like a marketer can help improve the employee experience, specifically in recruiting.
Here are my initial thoughts after just one week here with the team:
People first – Creating a positive, user-friendly experience during recruitment can go a long way. Job seekers can in some ways be looked at like customers. Treating a customer poorly or not responding leads to lost sales; the same can be said for job candidates. Any poor impression during the recruiting process can lead to them losing interest in the position or company, not only while job seeking, but long term. This can have huge repercussions if they tell friends, post on social media or post a review of their experience on websites like Glassdoor.
Everyone is a recruiter – Your employees are your best ambassadors and biggest advocates. If an employee is happy at your organization, they’ll talk about it. This creates a huge pool of potential talent waiting to be tapped into, simplifying recruiting processes. Building a strong brand and sense of community makes employees feel like they're a part of something special, increasing the chances they will recommend the organization to others.
Paid ads and targeting – For retail, social media paid ads move the needle, as organic posts are becoming more obsolete. The same can be true for job postings. Sponsored ads on websites like Linkedin, Indeed and even Facebook have many advantages over organic posts. They allow you to target by entering certain demographics and criteria you’re searching for, give your posting better positioning on the site, and allow for better tracking and reporting leading to an easier recruitment process.
Jo Schopper, Account Executive
Never work with children or animals they say.
Sound advice as we prepared to shoot six videos in three days for a professional services client at their facility in Westlake, an upmarket suburb of Dallas, Texas.
OK, our shoot didn't have any children, but we did have two animals.
Sure, one was a child's toy, but you never know.
Luckily for us, the other, a dachshund schnauzer cross called Rigsby, was incredibly well behaved.
As were our crew, who were amazing.
The challenge with any shoot is coping with the unexpected and making sure you get exactly the footage you need - you literally get one shot.
This can be especially tricky when you're shooting outdoors.
On any shoot, the weather can be a demanding diva, prone to sulking and spoiling your day.
For us, she managed to maintain a beautiful disposition, ensuring day long sunshine - we did all get sunburnt though, just to remind us who's boss.
Apart from Dallas air traffic control insisting on routing every plane within a 50 mile radius over our location every few minutes, we managed to contain the external factors to a minimum.
The days were long, but very productive and well marshalled by the team at Casual Films, our partner on the shoot.
Extremely professional and very client friendly, they coped with the intricacies of shooting in a sometimes sensitive environment.
We've seen the first edit and it looks amazing, and we're confident the rest of the videos will be just as good.
Film shoots can be either a lot of fun or very hard work - our shoot in Texas managed to be a combination of both.
Gary Singh, Project Manager
With the launch of Google’s enhanced job search results, I’m sure that is what a good chunk of the talent industry is thinking. From my perspective, jobs that are included in enriched search results have many benefits for employers, including:
· Improving the job seeking experience for candidates
· Priority placement in Google search results
· Attracting and converting more qualified candidates
While opting in for the Google enriched search results might mean some heavy lifting on the back-end of your careers site, the following rules should be considered when writing a job description to help improve your ranking and relevance within the search results:
1. Title: It is important to remember job seeker behavior when it comes to the search process. Most candidates won’t be searching for your listed job title. Rather, they will be using specific keywords. Therefore it is crucial for an employer to include a target keyword in the title – in the front of the title, if possible.
2. Body Copy: The target keyword should also be in the first sentence of the job description and used 3-5 times throughout the post. Consider using synonyms of this keyword to avoid repletion. For example, using the word “career” instead of “job.”
3. Links: Backlinks should also be added to job descriptions. This will not only help your SEO raking, but it will provide candidates with content that shows your company culture and all of the great reasons to work for your company.
Other tips to consider writing a job posting:
1. Be specific. An effective title contains details regarding the industry, function and level of the role. For example, “Senior Account Manager” and “Mid-Level Account Manager” are more descriptive than “Manager.”
2. Keep it real. Your company may use fun job titles like “Retail Jedi – Shopping Assistant,” or perhaps internal job IDs like “Retail Lead II (123456)”, but candidates are likely unfamiliar with these titles. Keep your job title basic but descriptive, and fundamentally keyword-driven.
3. Avoid superlatives or idiomatic phrases. Phrases like “rock star,” “ninja,” “expert” and “guru” are easily misclassified by search engines and can negatively impact the relevancy of your job description.
4. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms. Avoid abbreviations, such as “Mgr,” “Mgmt,” and “Sr.” Spell out words fully to ensure that the title is comprehensive and distributed to the correct audience.
5. Keep it simple. The job title is the most important factor in determining relevancy in a search engine. Do not include salary, location information, job codes, non-alphabet symbols or other information not relevant to the title itself.
Finally, just try to put yourself in a candidate’s shoes or think back to when you were looking for a new job. If you can create one less step for them or one less click, the better experience they will have.
Sarah Green, Account Director