Phoenix Talentx Branding
18 min readAug 9, 2021
winning employer branding strategies in a pandemic by @phoenixtalentx india’s outofthebulb digital employer branding agency

While the corona pandemic #2020 brought to fore the need to continuously and critically invest in Employer Branding and forge even deeper connections with talent both inside and outside the firm; #2021 opened new challenges and opportunities for employer branding owing to the biggest reset that the world of work ever witnessed or manifested; and #2022 looks no different given the pandemic is showing no signs of abatement.


Before corona (year 2020) employer branding was all about ‘the candidate’, where acquisition was the main goal; after corona in 2020 & 2021 very apparently it has been all about ‘the employee’, where their engagement and safety became paramount; and in #2022 it will finally be about ‘the whole spectrum of talent’ — upcoming (freshers, potential), incoming (candidates, new joiners, re-joiners), staying (high-performing employees) or outgoing (leavers, alumni).

As employer branding becomes more and more complex and leads to more value-addition for the organisation and to aid you in your employer branding efforts, we have collated THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF EMPLOYER BRANDING THEMES.

These will not only give your teams ideas to freshen up your employer branding stories but also help you accelerate your employer branding efforts in coming years.

To build more context, we have also shared EMPLOYER BRANDING #EXAMPLES of companies who are doing a fab job under each theme of 2021–22. Take inspiration from these companies and unleash your story (in the media) too!

We have literally mapped all that’s happening in the talent world, social world and scoured through endless company webpages to produce this list. The List is exhaustive, encouraging, and action-oriented and will extensively help in pacing-up your employer branding efforts.


The following themes are the most critical trends and predictions for Indian employers. We have written them in alphabetical order because none is superior than the other. You can pick and choose employer branding themes that stand out most distinctly for your organisation and those that will give you the maximum leverage:

A. ASSETS — how many of your HR properties and policies can you count as your employer branding assets? have you created special or specialised employer branding assets, platforms for recruitment, engagement and retention? these could be print collateral, gift kits, videos, digital events, online job fairs, live sessions, hackathons, etc. specially dedicated towards employer branding objectives. @unilever does a fab job of assets created for employer branding. Scroll through their social media pages to know more.

B. BLOGS or VLOGS — In today’s content economy, it is imperative to have company blogs, people blogs, leadership blogs etc. to share your perspective on people issues or to call out your rationale behind challenging stereotypes around HR policies like leaves, medical coverage, rewards, retention bonus, skill bonus, diversity etc. @zomato is very prompt in sharing their perspective on people policies, customer-employee concerns via leader blogs.

C. COMMUNITY AIDS, CORPORATE SOCIAL JUSTICE — assumed a much wider and a very critical role in 2020 over CSR or CR. As employers you will be compelled to take meaningful stands on social issues in coming years. @blacklivesmatter movement saw many brands actively advocating their support, reorienting their diversity agenda to show solidarity with the cause. Also, the more your company will support local community efforts, the more respect you will gain as an employer, the more pride your employees will feel working with you. @Deloitte employees, are saluting their CEO’s efforts to provide oxygen cylinders to India during the resurge or second wave of corona by actively resharing the news on their LinkedIn profiles.

D. DEEPER CONNECTIONS — While the focus of employer branding before corona was on building #authentic, real employer brands; the focus has now shifted towards building and forging deeper connections with not only your employees but also their families. Corona has exposed that none can exist without the other. Talent will have a lot of say in how you shape work and HR policies in 2021 and onwards. Take a cue from @byjus that has allocated 20 crores CEO relief fund for employees and their families for corona related treatments.

D1. DIGITAL — 2020 was all about digital acceleration and transformation. It’s now time to show how forward thinking your employment experience is, when it comes to digital. Companies should be completely transparent about where they stand on the digital grid i.e. performance/work enablement, e-learning via digi-mediums as also what future-of-work or future-of-career looks like at their company. @chargebee is one of the first few Indian start-ups to build an entirely remote-first work model with 500+ home offices across India. Just the promise of “remote-first” says it all about their digital savviness and collaboration tools.

E. EQUITY — Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) transformed into DEI (Equity) during 2020 to highlight the promise that digital inclusion offers minority populations across the globe. Promoting equal pay opportunities is a direct sign of a modern employer brand. It showcases that the employer values its workforce and is determined to provide equal, equitable opportunity to everyone contributing to its success irrespective of gender, ability, or race, religion. @thoughtworks is continuously building on paying men and women equally. What’s your status on bridging the gender pay gap? Make it known in 2021.

F. FLEXIBILITY — 2020 was the year of “working from home”. It is therefore imperative to call out your flex-work policies clearly in your recruitment marketing communications. @Twitter has declared that their staff could continue working from home permanently. What are you declaring?

G. GIGGERS ARE THE NEW EMPLOYEES — 2021 will see more employers researching and building Gig Work Value Propositions, and creating clearly defined careers policies and career pages for gig workers. @Uber is a gig economy veteran with thousands of drivers across the world, all working on a freelance basis. Take a cue.

H. HOME IS THE NEW OFFICE AND GLOBE IS THE NEW RECRUITING REGION: A globally distributed workforce deployment or hiring model is already real in 2021 thanks to corona and it will get more real in 2022. As employers create talent pools across the globe, the need for an international employer branding strategy is paramount. @dell has a global EVP, ‘You thrive, We thrive’ that helps summarize what they promise their employees where ever they choose to work from. Their social media handle @lifeatdell shares content and supporting visuals in line with this proposition.

I. INCLUSION — Has become the centre point of the diversity agenda in 2020 as with remote work there is no reason for women, disabled, LGTBT, rural people etc. to not be an active contributor in the workforce of India. An Avtaar study showed that percentage of women hires increased from 31 percent in 2016 to 37 percent in 2020. What are your diversity scores? Have you made them official yet? Do you have an official D&I leader actively pursuing diversity targets? Time to share your diversity story a la @accenture.

J. JOURNEYS — Weave the Employer Value Proposition into your Candidate and Employee Journeys. Highlight aspects of the employee and candidate experience that lead to highly positive sentiments in career journeys at your organisation. Call out specific career-paths talent can take at your organisation. @amazon spent a considerable time in training their recruiters on career prospects each role offers at amazon. Thus, contributing to low offer dropouts.

J1 JOBS THAT ARE UNUSUAL OR WEIRD — Corona has locked down businesses and old ways of working. Old jobs are giving way to new, weird jobs like Augmentator (AR expert), Art Therapist, Online Reviewer, Flavorist, Fragrance Chemist, Nail Polish Namer, Frontline Ecommerce Worker, Writing Consultant, Podcaster, Blogger, Personal Coaches, Mental Health Specialist, Machine Learning Researcher, Chief Growth Officers or Chief Revenue Officers etc. If your company offers a new, interesting and unique role peculiar to 2021 or an unconventional career option to explore in 2022, don’t hesitate to share it as part of your employer branding content. These unique jobs will definitely pique the interest of your talent market, just like the ‘remote recruiter’ role did for @cars24.

K. sKILLING — Upskilling, reskilling, multi-skilling, learning, unlearning, relearning, e-learning, adaptive learning, microlearning, future-ready, analytics, certifications etc. propelled the learning and development agenda in 2020. The time spent on trainings, certifications, career upgrades saw a massive jump during the corona lockdown. Talent is now looking for effective training opportunities from their employers, more than ever. Is your e-learning catalogue part of your career pages or employer branding collateral? Is AR, VR-based, digitised and gamified learning part of your training tools? If not, then do include these terms in your employer branding dictionary. Just like @IBM, they not only talk about the skilling they provide to their employees but also training services they provided to local communities like SkillsBuild and STEM programs for Girls in AI and Hybrid Cloud.

L. LEADERSHIP BRANDING AND ROLE EXPANSION — The top leadership’s role has moved away from just giving executive support and budget to employer branding teams. They have assumed a far greater and active role in promoting employer branding campaigns by becoming the voice of the company on social media. Take for example @Walmart. They had to hire additional employees to handle the increased workload of online shopping during the lockdown. The president and CEO, Dough McMillon, visited the frontline workers in stores and wrote about them on his LinkedIn profile.

L1. LIVE STREAMING — Build a connection with talent through live streaming as a part of your employer branding strategy. It gives you reach, scale and far greater potential talent engagement than any other tool. These events are viewed by thousands of people, both live and as after-the-sessions videos. @Cisco went live on LinkedIn regularly during the pandemic to cover a range of career-related topics, from virtual internships to women in tech, to the new normal, to letting candidates know the type of work they’d be doing at the technology company.

L2. LINKEDIN — we want to make a special mention for @LinkedIn as the most effective tool for employer branding in 2021 onwards. It is your best bet employee-generated content. If you want to combat @Glassdoor ratings or @indeed reviews, then @linkedin is your best bet. Activate your company profiles, ask your HR and Business leaders to be an active voice on LinkedIn, task your social media teams to build active engagement with talent on LinkedIn. Your new joiners, leavers, employees celebrating anniversaries, recognition awards, care etc are actively posting their experience on LinkedIn. Acknowledging their posts and appreciation will set your employer brand apart from those employers who do not. Do give people enough reasons to showcase moments of the day, week and their time at your company — employee kits, CEO connects with family, e-learning certifications, appreciation letters from CEO, IP or patent creation awards are the in-thing. @tcs is doing a fab job of creating these moments and celebrating them on LinkedIn with their employees and their expansive networks.

M. MEASURE — The year ahead will see far more focus on measuring employer branding results, brand audits, predicting impact, and making data driven employer branding investments. @pwcindia does an employer branding audit every two years for their millennial talent group to not only map talent sentiment but also course correct their employer branding plans.

M1. MILLENNIALS — Generation Y want to know about career development opportunities, possibilities and various career paths at your company. Millennials don’t see moving vertically up the career ladder as the only or best option. They want career opportunities that branch out in different directions (lateral) and possibilities (new untapped missions) or growth across domains, skills, sectors, locations, missions, projects, markets, millennial boards, reverse mentoring etc. @EY articulates career development opportunities across the globe, functions, industries very actively on its career pages.

N. NEW JOINERS BRANDING — New joiners especially early talent or campus recruits are particularly excited about joining their dream employers and proudly share these moments on their personal social media pages. They excitedly showcase their joiner kits, their laptops, their recruiters, mentors, interviewers name etc. on their Linkedin profiles. It undoubtedly gives a great fillip to social media profiles of employers. @Morganstanley dedicated their New York Times Square billboards to welcome Interns from India. Their pictures were flashed on these billboards. Acts like these impacts not only employees but also their families.

O. OFFBOARDING — Why is offboarding so important to your employer brand? It is the best last impression of your employer brand — it is a great opportunity to turn former employees into brand advocates. While the whole world is busy with onboarding, your company can create an exciting initiative in offboarding. @mckinsey probably has the best alumni relations program in the corporate world. They celebrate their talent wherever they are. @cognizant turned a high-turnover quarter in 2021 to their advantage by celebrating out-going employees on LinkedIn. Their social media team personally thanked each alumni on their exit or goodbye posts.

P. PERSONALISED EVP — From companywide EVPs to personalized messaging, communications, tailored experiences and targeted digital campaigns, based on skill, role, generation, stage of life and region of talent groups; 2021 may see a lot of granularity in personalized EVP communications. Clearly articulate why talent should join, stay, perform and rejoin your company for a particular skill. @SunLife is creating dynamic career pages especially for targeted technology skills.

P1. PURPOSE-DRIVEN — Companies that are named as top employer brands have told compelling stories about why working there is the most exciting and impactful thing in the whole world. There is no greater pull for your talent than a mission, a call to action or a cause. @Google @Tesla have done a brilliant job of embedding an inspirational vision of what a life and career would be like in their organization.

P2. PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR) — PR is a very strong engine to boost your employer branding story. It is not to be ignored at all. Company news related to strategic tie-ups, global expansion, CSR activities, community efforts, technological advancements, progressive HR policies, global support during corona etc. gets talent really excited about you as an employer and contributes significantly to building a positive image. PR coverage amplifies your employer branding message. @infosys sustains regular coverage about their employee-first initiatives in local media.

P3. PRE-BOARDING — Owing to a lot of stress on the talent market currently with candidates having 4–6 offers in hand and a 5X comp package and a notice period of 2–3 months before joining, pre-boarding exercises have become critical. the key is to be as innovative as possible in engaging both campus freshers as well as lateral hires.

Q. QUESTIONSAsk more questions to your talent group and encourage conversations on your social media pages. @HubSpot is asking frequent questions to engage its talent audience in discussion on various topics on their social media pages. You’ll find lots of questions and polls on their LinkedIn page, ranging from topics like marketing strategies to more introspective conversation starters like “How do you think remote work helps you to bring your authentic self to work?”

R. REMOTE FIRST — 2020 enabled digitally distributed teams across the globe, and a remote world of work took shape. ‘Remote only’ Jobs took shape for the first time and are now a regular feature on various job boards. Do offer and communicate remote work possibilities actively on your preferred job boards. @Bumble @facebook regularly post remote work-from-anywhere jobs. What’s your stance?

S. SOCIAL MEDIA — assumed immense power during the corona crisis. There is 48% increase in time spent on social media post corona. It is imperative that you show how your company is solving for the corona crisis, or providing essential services during the nation-wide lockdown. You can also talk about topical workplace issues such as the gender pay gap, workplace diversity, and employee wellbeing during crisis. You can also share Stories of employees. Ask your current employees to share their original honest stories so that potential candidates can get a sense of what it is like working in your company. You can then include these stories in your job descriptions and careers pages. Employee-generated content is extremely valuable to an employer brand. @atherenergy the Indian variant of Tesla in sustainable energy automobiles is another celebrated employer branding story in the making. They are inviting their key employees to talk about the Ather Energy story through the work and the role they play at this new-age company.

S1. STABILITY, SAFETY, SECURITY — The corona crisis has made talent wary of choosing start-ups that are not well-funded or joining organisations that have failed to exhibit their humane side or launched rampant salary cuts, shutdowns, lay-offs etc. without exhibiting compassion for their employees during the crisis. In 2020, business stability, financial safety and job security made a comeback as the top reason for talent to choose and stay with an organisation. In the year 2021, talent will focus tremendously on resilience, stability, growth and community focused work that you have done as an organisation to aid the country, its citizens and your own employees. It’s key to project stability, security, and hope. @tanishq took down their communal harmony advertisements in 2020 that resulted in threats, in order to safe-guard their employees. @makemytrip restored salary-cuts for frontline employees during probably one of the worst years for travel industry. Acts like these will stay in the talent world for a long-time.

T. TECHNOLOGY & DATA- Artificial Intelligence (AI) on employee sentiment analysis, Machine Learning (ML) to expedite talent services with chatbots and other automated self-services. Technology is the new bedrock for employee experience. @MicrosoftTeams is actively launching digital transformation in the space of employee experience and predictive analytics. What employee experience are you providing to build connection, collaboration and drive performance at your organisation? Time to digitise your employer branding experience.

T1. TONEDuring Corona, the tone of the companies changed overnight to demonstrate concern, care and wellbeing because what the world was witnessing was unprecedented and daunting. Corona was and still is the biggest RESET of all times. @Instacart, an online grocery delivery service went from being a ‘nice-to-have’ service to an “essential service” overnight during the pandemic. But given the circumstances, and the additional hiring that was required they did not shout out loud on their social channels, ‘Yay, we’re hiring!’ instead they chose to be more empathetic, conscientious about their tone. They instead chose to build on the pride their workers feel as an essential service and invited talent to join the cause.

T2. TALENT POOLS — Talent pools are the missing recruitment strategy for 2021 especially for technology companies. Dynamic organizations are turning to their own talent pools to successfully retain their best talent. They call this exercise ‘internal recruitment’. @HCL is paying thousands of employees upto 30% of their salary as skill perk. These are skills where customers are paying a premium and the company is passing it on to its ‘difficult to hire/find’ talent. What are you doing for specialised skills in your sector? Make it known to your internal talent.

U. YOU OR THEM? — well, it is not about you, ‘the employer’ anymore but rathe ‘them’ the employees. The power of decision making has tilted towards employees in 2020. How companies supported their employees during the crisis — from online to hardware support, to family care, to extended leaves, to limiting meeting time slots to salary cuts to work output expectations, everything was decided by the employees. The companies that put employees’ wellbeing at the centre of these decisions, got great reviews on Glassdoor (the highest culture and value ratings on Glassdoor occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees expressed more positive sentiment about transparency & integrity (42%) and communication (35%) in 2020 over 2015). Culture 500 employees spoke more negatively about their company’s lack of agility, about the level of bureaucracy, the complexity of processes, the speed in responding to changes, and a lack of entrepreneurship. Net-net 2020 gave more power in the hands of talent and this sentiment will continue to grow in years to come. @Hilton @HP scored particularly well on transparent communication during COVID-19. What were your Glassdoor ratings? Do you have a Glassdoor strategy in place?

“In the long run, COVID will change how people see employers. They’ll remember if their organization didn’t look after them. They’ll also remember those organizations that really stood up and stood apart.” — Recruitment Lead at Lloyds Banking Group

V. VOICE, VALUES & ETHICS — Many of the conversations that dominated this year will continue into the next, and many of the trends we’ve highlighted here will shape the employer branding landscape for years to come — so finding your company’s voice is critical. As candidates and customers look for companies to take stronger stances on social issues, recruiting leaders will increasingly focus on this aspect to propagate their employer branding agenda. Instead of showcasing the company’s products, perks, and office amenities in polished marketing materials, they’ll publicize what the company is doing to support employees, customers, and communities in times of crisis. @LinkedIn saw 84% more engagement on company posts related to covid than diversity.

V1. VIDEOS — Videos will continue to be a key part of your talent marketing efforts. Albeit they will become shorter, crisper and raw. They will be shot on mobile phones by your employees from their home-offices as opposed to elaborate production set-ups in office. @creditsuisse created a video film by stitching 30 small videos clips collected from the families of their women returnees. Needless to say, the women who returned to work post a career-break were moved to tears.

W. WELLBEING (CARE, COMPASSION), WELLNESS (HEALTH BENEFITS, UNLIMITED LEAVES) — The Corona Crisis has made businesses and corporates more humane. Even consumers want to know that the brands they are buying from are taking care of their employees. This has led to a more HOLISTIC and EMPATHETIC APPROACH to talking about employee wellbeing, encompassing — physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, occupational, financial, spiritual, environmental wellness and digital detoxification @Mahindra was one of the first few companies to launch a series of wellbeing activities for their employees during corona. @borosil was one of the first few companies that decided to support the families of their deceased employees during 2021 corona resurge.

W1. WEALTH CREATION — From profit sharing to value creation to wealth creation, the total rewards strategy for employees has a come a long way. The pandemic has also given strength to the movement of rightfully sharing the wealth that employees help create despite the personal challenges they face. @Bharatpe in the midst of the crisis gave a 20% hike to its employees and challenged the notion of old-world companies blaming market downtime to squeeze bonuses. @makemytrip granted liquid stocks (not paper) around Rs 650 crore to their employees in 2021.

W2. WORK FROM ANYWHERE — The world hadn’t even come to terms with work from home when corona pushed out the concept of work from anywhere. If your systems are cyber-attack proof and there are certain jobs where location is not a constraint and you have a qualified work from anywhere policy do call it out on your career pages. @Upworthy asks their people to work from home, from a coffee shop, from a coworking space — anywhere with good enough Internet to do a Google Hangout. You can move to Montana for a month and work from there if you want. There are no remote workers at Upworthy, they proudly say “we’re all part of a distributed team”.

X. XPERIENCE — It is all about experience. It always was. It always will be and now it will be more digital than ever. It has become a very vast and a comprehensive view of experience also: starting from targeted campuses, to potential recruits working in compete firms to alumni re-joining, to people returning from career-breaks to candidate experience to new-joiners experience to employee experience to high-pots experience, to critical skill talent pool experience, to diverse / culture / minority groups’ experience to contractual workers experience to leavers experience and ending with alumni experience. Phew! And not to forget how remote experience, is different from the office one or how giggers will experience work vis a vis full-timers or how hybrid work model will replace the traditional captive model experience. Another phew! @microsoft probably is doing a cohesive job in the area of talent experience.

Y. YOLO ECONOMY — You live only once economy is an outcome of an overworked, over stressed workforce during corona. The pandemic is encouraging a lot of employees to take the off-beaten path of freelancing, gigging or starting the venture that they have always been dreaming of. Founder Jobs are increasing in quantum on @linkedinjobs. No company has as yet claimed a spot for YOLO, do you want to take the first mover advantage?

Z. Z GENERATION — Gen Zer’s are a unique working group. They are demanding a lot more change in work policies from their employers than any of the previous generations. They are very open-minded, conscious, compassionate and responsible citizens. Generation Z is more inquisitive throughout the recruitment cycle. Companies without a robust candidate communication program will lose more Gen Z candidates. Do incorporate all of these traits in your employer brand identity like @GoDaddy. It has been recognized by BestCompaniesAZ for how they’ve embraced the workforce’s new generation — the Z generation.


· Share this list with your marketing teams, communication teams and make them accountable to produce collateral, create social media campaigns, generate PR mileage for you as the best employer in your category using any or all of these themes.

· Use it as checklist for employer branding goals in 2022. You can write your differentiators against each item and launch internal and external communications around it. For example — what are we doing differently in diversity that warrants an employer branding campaign? Do we have a millennial career development program that deserves a special mention? Or how are our community efforts during this pandemic supporting our employees and saving lives?

· HR, Hiring teams can use this checklist to track progress in areas that have become important for talent in 2021 and given the rerun of the second wave of corona these will continue to be relevant even in 2022.

· CEOs, CXOs, Business Leaders responsible for the employer branding agenda will equally benefit from this list as it builds a lot of clarity on trending topics in employer branding, and puts all critical items in one place. 2021–22 talent branding strategies, metrics can be rebuilt, redesigned and repurposed using this most exhaustive list of employer branding ideas.



Make the most of it — if you can demonstrate a ‘digital first’ strategy and yet can be ‘employee first’ at the core, you have hit the magic spot for talent attraction, engagement, and retention.

Time to revive, retool and rehaul your employer branding strategy. And The A to Z List is your treasure trove!