Human Resources Today

Obstacles provide opportunities. It’s true. Obstacles inspire innovators to create. They rally athletes to overcome. They prompt leaders to motivate. Any given day, we face obstacles and no matter how we measure them, big or small, it is how we adjust and take action that defines the impact and benefit of the outcome.

For almost a week, Hurricane Harvey repeatedly hammered the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coasts. In a matter of hours, conversations shifted from back-to-school shopping and Friday night football to survival supplies and rescue efforts. As the rain stopped, recovery began, and a new reality set in.

When brands are heroes

How quickly needs and priorities shift. When we look hard enough, especially in the wake of a disaster, a growing list of obstacles reveals a growing list of opportunities - opportunities to be heroes – as people, as communities as organizations and as brands.

When disaster strikes, many brands rise to the challenge and support communities in need. Intended or not, efforts influence public opinion and in most cases, prove investment in the greater good is a win-win.

When employer brands are heroes

During a crisis, it is the actions taken as an employer that become the unsung hero in the eyes of your employees and community. As an east Texan steps away from family and friends in crisis, the first message in my inbox on the first business day during the storm was team exaqueo showing support from afar. It was the first of what would be the start of several heroic employer brand inspirations in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Here we share some impressive and real life examples, of employer brand leadership in action:

  • Automotive Technology Company:

    • Routing work to alternate location teams to ease the workload on impacted colleagues

  • Auto Dealership:

    • Providing vehicles to staff in need of immediate transportation, free of charge

    • Creating shared commission structures to support their peers unable to sell

  • Energy Industry Corporate Office:

    • Authorizing extended leave without penalty for employees to reset personally

    • Approving disaster pay to carry those unable to work

  • Equipment Rental Company:

    • Making products available for employee friends & family use

  • Grocery Store Chain:

    • Organizing cross-functional teams to cover business, enabling extended personal leave

    • Making water and basic necessities available to take home after work, free of charge

  • Mattress Retailer Corporate Office:

    • Company executives calling every employee to hear their voice and ensure their safety

    • Sending daily updates with safety and local details with critical contact numbers

    • Opening the company headquarters to displaced employees and their families

    • Instituting bring your children to work options until school resumes

    • Starting a disaster relief fund and/or matching disaster relief contributions

 

Of course, not every heroic action is realistic for every business or situation. In times of crisis big decisions are made with little, if any, notice. Moments like the past few weeks give us notice to pause and assess how we can turn obstacles into opportunities.

Having a crisis plan is optimal (stay tuned, more on this coming soon), but if you don’t, remember small steps make big impressions. If you keep your company culture, or better yet your employer brand values in focus, deciding your course of action becomes an easy extension of your normal.

Turn obstacles into opportunities to be a hero in the eyes of your employees. (← Click to tweet!)


Julia Zelenock (@JuliaZinTX) is an Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.

 

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