In contrast to last year’s predictions, the Covid-19 pandemic has had little effect on employer appeal. This year’s average scores were even higher than last year’s. Nor have there been significant changes in the ranking of reasons why we choose a particular employer. The pharma sector continues to be the most attractive. Janssen Pharmaceutica has been voted the most appealing employer in Belgium for the fifth time, making it an absolute record holder. In the world of employer branding, in particular, the new normal strongly resembles the old one.

predictions contradicted

Last year, we predicted several major changes concerning employer branding as a result of Covid-19. Based on the evolutions that took place

following the financial crisis in 2008, we assumed that the global scores for employer appeal would drop. We also assumed that the reasons why we choose a particular employer would change. Job security would become more important than salary and benefits, for instance. We also expected ranking changes in the most appealing sectors and companies. In reality, the coronavirus pandemic has had little to no effect on the attractiveness of companies. Overall appeal and the scores for the various criteria (salary, job security, work atmosphere) rose slightly. The most important reason for this is most likely that Covid-19 has yet to cause an economic recession. The impact on unemployment has been very limited to date. The reasons why we choose a particular employer have not changed either. Salary and benefits continue to be the uncontested most important criteria. Apart from that, the ranking remains virtually unchanged. The pharma sector is once again the most attractive. And the winner is no stranger: Janssen Pharmaceutica.

Janssen Pharmaceutica named most appealing employer

Janssen Pharmaceutica now ranks the most appealing employer for the fifth time. This makes the company the absolute record holder, beating out Deme and GlaxoSmithKline (four wins each). This pharma giant finished ahead of two newcomers: Seris and Nike. Bayer and DPG Media were also among the top five. Janssen Pharmaceutica underscored its superiority by scoring highest in six criteria: financial health, job security, career perspectives, job content, salary & benefits, and a Covid-safe working environment. AG Insurance is the most appealing employer in terms of telecommuting and work-life balance, while Nike is the most appealing employer among young people (under the age of 30). French-speaking respondents voted Seris as the most appealing employer, thereby unexpectedly dethroning RTBF. 

pharma sector still the most attractive sector

The sector rankings also showed no significant changes as a result of Covid-19. The aviation sector – hard hit by the pandemic – is the second most attractive sector on a global scale and ranks right behind the pharma sector. So, the respondents did not anticipate a lasting disruption in the sector. Interestingly, the pharma sector once again ranked in the top three for the CSR criterion. This leads us to conclude that the sector has gained more credit than it has lost in the development and distribution of the

various vaccines. 

telecommuting and Covid-safe working of little effect

The coronavirus prompted the inclusion of two new criteria: the possibility to telework and a Covid-safe working environment. These criteria received average scores in the importance ranking. A total of 38% and 39% of respondents, respectively, find this to be the most important criteria for choosing an employer. Globally, banks and insurance companies received the highest scores for these criteria. The sector ranks highest every year. But that is not enough to improve the global ranking. On the contrary, the sector has lost some of its attractiveness. This proves once again that the coronavirus has had little effect on global employer brands. 

employer branding: the forgotten factor

The most important finding is that the predictions have not come true. The employer brands of Belgian companies have proven to be resilient. The most important reason for this is that the negative consequences of the coronavirus crisis have failed to materialize. Unemployment has barely increased. But perhaps yet another factor plays a role in this. 


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This is the first crisis in which companies have continued to actively mobilize employer branding. During the last crisis, employer branding was not yet firmly enough established and receded into the background for a while. This has happened to a much lesser extent this time around. A lot of companies have also simply continued their employer branding activities in 2020. Our fear proved to be unfounded. In that sense, 2020 can very well be said to be the year that employer branding made its definitive breakthrough

Jan Denys
Labour Market Expert at Randstad

randstad employer brand research 2021.

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