The pandemic has taught us many things and gave some companies a costly lesson of how to look after their employees. As it turns out, the way employers treat their employees has an impact on customers’ loyalty and their general opinion.

Flashback to July 2020. The pandemic is doing the rounds, and we’re all grappling for what it means to our way of life. As people, we reach out to our families and look to protect the ones we care about. As businesses, we look to our employees and how we protect them – or at least most of us do.

The pandemic shone a magnifying glass on every company’s employee treatment. This was great for some but quite devastating for others.

What is employer brand really about?

Employer brands are traditionally considered a means of attracting future talent, whilst also looking after existing employees. They showcase how brands care about their people and empower them with great experiences. It’s long been accepted that employer brands can have a positive impact on things like attrition, as well as employee engagement. However, we have to ask ourselves, do they impact customers too?

Yes, happy employees are more likely to look after your customers and go the extra mile. There’s also another link, which has the potential to be more immediate and more devastating.

Keep high ethical standards

Back to July 2020 and one employer has just hit the news. Boohoo. They’re a popular and successful fashion brand that often use social influencers and celebrities to help promote their products. However, they hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. According to the Sunday Times, Boohoo were running their Leicester factory during a local lockdown, offering no protective equipment and only paying employees £3.50 an hour.

The lack of corporate social responsibility found its way to the customers. It resulted in the following reactions leaving a long-term mark on the brand:

  • Thousands of customers took to social media to boycott the brand
  • Influencers and celebrities stepped back, distancing themselves from any connection
  • They were dropped by partners like Next and ASOS
  • The share price took a dive
  • The value of the group dropped by £1billion in just one week (The Guardian)

It is important to mention that Boohoo is not a rare case lacking corporate responsibility ethics. Wetherspoons announced that they wouldn’t be paying employees anything until they reopened, even suggesting they get a job at Tesco – despite the government furlough scheme. After customers threatened to boycott the pub chain, they did a swift U-turn and seemingly managed to avoid any major disruption.

Sustainability and ethics matter

It’s 2021 and lessons have been learnt. People care about where their products and services come from. In fact, ethical companies are popping up all the time – energy providers, food manufacturers, packaging, employee benefits – you name it, it’s happening. This is a trend that we cannot afford to ignore, both as businesses and as employers.

We need to acknowledge people want to work for companies they can be proud of and talk about to their friends and family. Employees seek brands that support the next generation and the planet we live on.

Customers have the same desires and wish to feel good about their purchases. Knowing your choices don’t harm the world around makes all the difference. This translates to the company’s employees as well.

Whilst the employer brand is traditionally thought of as a recruitment tool, it’s actually much more. Caring about your employees and making sure people know about it, make a good CX tool as well. It’s another way of establishing yourself as a brand with moral values – something that’s becoming increasingly important to the modern consumer.

Therefore, next time you look at your branding budget, remember your employer brand. Yes, it will bring you a fair share of employee talent, but it will also help build trust among your customers. With trust comes loyalty as the biggest reward a company can get.

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