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Covid-19 & EB: Planning for the long term

By Universum on 08/07/2020

At Universum, we keep monitoring the response of companies to the crisis generated by Covid-19, especially, its implications for the long term.

After a first phase of rapid changes and real-time decisions, it comes the time for leaders to adapt, transform and plan for a post-Covid future, which will be highly influenced by the challenges brought by this global pandemic.

2020 is a time to prove the authenticity, consistency and effectiveness of any Employer Brand. While for some companies this crisis meant to find flaws and change strategic directions, it’s an invaluable opportunity for realistic planning moving forward. 

With the aim of finding answers, patterns and trends among data, hundreds of Employer Branding and Talent Acquisition leaders from all industries, shared their views and sentiment with Universum on how Covid-19 is impacting the work dynamics and the consequences it might have.

These are the results of the second survey of this series, which covered a field period of April-May 2020.

1. Employer Branding can be the best response to the crisis 

Companies are seeing a light in employer branding as a key part of the response to the Covid-19 crisis. Organizations are recognizing the need for a transdisciplinary work between areas to achieve an Employer Brand that is authentic and effective, able to encompass the story of the company as a whole: The internal reality and the external image, which is especially true during trying times. 

Comparing results from March to May, it’s optimistic to see an increase in companies that are prioritizing the engagement of their remote workforce in a joint effort between Marketing, Communications, and Human Resources or Talent Acquisition teams.

2. Don’t wait until “this is over” to focus on your EVP 

In the most recent Universum survey, 21% of respondents said their biggest challenge when managing an Employer Brand during the pandemic is that they were in the middle of developing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP), and the project has stopped.  

It is true, plans are shifting, resources are being reallocated, priorities can be different. But if one thing remains the same is that people is your biggest asset. Being able to maintain engaged your workforce and keep attracting the best talent is key on recovering and coming out successful from a crisis. This is the context in which you want to have a strong EVP, or if you don’t have one yet, this is the context to develop one. It will show aspects you might ignore in “normal times”. 

Maybe it had happened to you: your EVP takes pride in your innovative spirit and embracement of new technologies but all of a sudden, you’re struggling to keep an open communication with your talent now that the office setting is out of the picture. Worth to go back to those EVP pillars, find flaws and relaunch your EVP with a more honest outlook and scope

3. The right message comes from within 

At this point, we’ve come to an agreement that silence is not an option during crisis. Communication plays a major role as it allows you to show, both internal and external audiences, where you stand and how strong your values are.  

According to their industries and objectives, some companies focus on external communication and reputation management while others prioritize internal engagement to keep up performance in unusual working settings. No matter the focus, only those with a well-defined employer brand are thriving in their communications, seeing peaks in engagement and proving the authenticity of their story. 

It is not about making a “Covid statement”, it is about a statement that works for the good and the hard times, that resonates with your internal talent and inspire your future talent out there.  

4. Invest now to profit in the long term

Here it comes the big question: How do I keep investing in my Employer Brand in the middle of an economic crisis? Times like these test the unity of any organization. When it comes to talent, Communication, Marketing, and Talent Acquisition should partner to work towards a common goal (ideally, during crisis and non-crisis times). Take the current situation as an opportunity to joint forces and share budgets to create a clear, unified response that as many have said, will define your brand for years and years.     

In this regard, data brings optimism. Based on the results of Universum’s surveys, as of May 2020, 45% of companies are maintaining the same budgets for employer branding efforts.  

5. As hiring reduces, critical needs become more critical 

The future doesn’t seem to get any easier when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. As of May, 55% of the companies surveyed, claimed to have fewer hiring needs but most of them are still looking for critical hires with a growing difficulty in engagement as a result of the economic uncertainty.  

Being transparent, clear and authentic during the crisis (and making sure to communicate it) makes the difference here, for your Covid and post-Covid hiring needs. 

Remaining true to your brand and your talent will always pay off. 

To register and attend our webinars where we present survey results as well as insights and best practices, visit our events page.

To relive past events, please access the recordings on our library section.


At Universum we advise you on how to develop and implement a strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP), that will be the strategic foundation for all future communication and shapes the employee experience.

About Universum

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With over 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted more than 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. Find out more at