A call from employer-branding-now got me thinking: has Corona made a difference in employee expectations for the 2021 work year?
A call from employer-branding-now got me thinking. Due to Corona, many framework conditions have changed again and again in working life, so that employers had to readjust themselves regularly. In addition to uncertainties and challenges, this also led to new knowledge and insights with long-term effects on the world of work. This is followed by a call for a blog parade with the heading “Employee expectations 2021”.
And so I am sitting here and have to smile. Because these are precisely the expectations I have often talked about with ex-colleagues over the past year. Briefly about me: After having worked for several large corporations for 27 years, I have now been PR manager at persomatch, a startup company, for two years. In the home office from the start, because I can do my work quite independently of my other colleagues. And because – unlike what I have experienced in various corporations so far – it is the result that counts here and not the dull presence. My colleagues, too, work very flexibly, sometimes in the home office, sometimes in the office (we do indeed have a very nice and modern office, large and flooded with light!). Just as it is needed and fits.
But back to the topic: Corona. When the pandemic began, I noticed very important differences: How did I experience the time at my startup employer, and how did it feel for my ex-colleagues in various large corporations?
Communication during the pandemic
It started with communication. In response to my anxious question about how the company was doing, my boss told me every day, “We are noticing effects from Corona on our day-to-day business. But we are still getting enough orders, and even so, we still have many things to do that we can use the current time for. Don’t worry, we’ll do it!”
Quite different with my colleagues in the corporations. Panic was immediately spread here. The business could not be sustained under these conditions, it was said. You had to act immediately before you had to react, they said. Jobs have to be cut and many areas have to be restructured. This type of communication does not make you feel safe.
Trust in employees
The topic of working in home offices was also treated very differently. It has always been established with us: Everyone works where it is needed and where it suits. All colleagues enjoy doing their job, and our boss has complete confidence in us that we will do our best, no matter where, and bring the company forward. In the corporations, however, there were difficult discussions. When it became clear that the work in the office could no longer be maintained, there were many discussions about how the team leads can control that the employees were actually working.
Getting creative when circumstances change
Speaking of work, yes, we have noticed that it is a challenging time for our customers. But we have taken on the situation and found that a lot is still happening despite Corona! Instead of lectures in presence mode, we have increasingly given webinars. Due to Corona, we noticed changes in people’s Internet search behavior, which gave us important insights – so we were able to give system-relevant industries (nursing, geriatric care, retail …) important tips for recruiting. We focused on things we “always wanted to do.” Our managing director and one of our employees were scholarship holders at the Studienfonds OWL when they were students. Now our company is sponsoring a student and we can give something back to the region. Also, our CEO has always wanted to write a book. Now he has done it, an inspiring work about founding. All of these were topics that, as a PR manager, were very grateful for me to work on. On the system side, we have been making planned improvements, and our sales staff have been making a lot of phone calls and holding long and intensive discussions to provide information about our offer. All of this led to the fact that we hired new employees and were able to top our previous year’s sales – despite Corona.
My ex-colleagues, on the other hand, were initially at a loss for advice and also for work … because many of their usual tasks no longer made sense at first. They had one video conference after the other for weeks in order to rearrange the respective business areas and to consider how the business idea can react to the pandemic in order to still generate sales.
In our startup company you can feel that everyone feels responsible. When the office needs a personal visit, whether it’s to run the water or sift through the mail, the one who suits best will do it. Regardless of whether it is the working student or the CEO. Some of my ex-colleagues hardly heard anything from their superiors in the first few months … there was definitely no feeling of solidarity.
Expectations of the employees
I don’t want to sing the praises of startups here, nor do I want to demonize corporations. Both have their raison d’etre, and both have advantages and disadvantages. As a result of the pandemic, however, it became clear that even the big ones can learn a lot from the little ones:
- Open and honest communication
- Creating a positive mood
- Putting trust in the employees
- Being generous
- Rethinking, breaking away from ingrained patterns
- Being flexible, both in terms of working conditions and business hustle and bustle
This is what employees expect from their employer. Always, and especially in difficult times.
Here you can find more information about the blog parade of employer-branding-now!