72% of employers will strengthen employment brand to prepare for economy turn-around

As the nation works toward recovering from one of the steepest downturns in U.S. history, employers are preparing now for when the economy rebounds, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Seventy-two percent of employers who have employment brands say they are taking measures to strengthen those employment brands today, so they are competitively positioned for an upturn down the road.

Employers are working to remedy the fallout of a grueling economy. The U.S. has lost 6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to layoffs, CareerBuilder's survey found 42 percent of employers have cut certain benefits or perks at their organizations in 2009. Bonuses, medical coverage, and 401(k)-matching topped the list of areas most affected.

As companies struggle with shrinking departments and tighter budgets, a greater emphasis is being placed on internal and external communications to improve employment brands. Thirty-seven percent of employers with employment brands are communicating more frequently with employees about company successes and 29 percent are promoting company successes and awards through press releases.

Employers are also revising recruitment messaging and investing more in promoting career advancement, flexibility, and a work culture that values employees:

  • 24 percent are outlining potential career paths for current and future employees.
  • 24 percent are offering more employee recognition programs.
  • 21 percent are offering more flexible work schedules.
  • 20 percent are revising job listings to emphasize a positive work culture.
  • 18 percent are revising recruitment materials.
  • 16 percent are revamping their company career sites
    Only 14 percent of these employers are looking at offering more competitive pay and benefits.

"Employers have had to make tough decisions this year and are working to diffuse potentially negative consequences," said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America. "Of those who had layoffs in their organizations, 45 percent said it had adversely impacted their employment brand. Many are getting back to the basics to connect with employees and candidates and are instituting a complete overhaul of recruitment and retention practices."

Looking at a subset of human resource managers, 31 percent reported they are taking this time to replace lower-performing employees with stronger talent that may not have been available in a healthier economy. Forty-one percent reported they are currently evaluating their hiring process and implementing changes. Forty-nine percent are revising retention strategies.

Other measures being taken to prepare for when the economy turns around include:

  • 30 percent are planning a new marketing strategy.
  • 24 percent are ramping up training programs.
  • 20 percent are working on a new product line or enhancing existing products.
  • 20 percent are implementing a new succession plan.

Looking forward, employers believe the economic stimulus plan will help to generate opportunities for their companies. Nearly half (48 percent) of human resource managers believe the economic stimulus will bring more business to their organizations; 23 percent anticipate it will create more jobs within their organizations.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,543 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions; non- government) ages 18 and over between February 20 and March 11, 2009 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset of those with an employee brand and human resource managers, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,543, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.94 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

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