“Employees’ social posts generate eight times more engagement than posts from their employer,” reports Dr. Christine Bailey of Cisco. Let that soak in for a minute. Eight. Times. More. Engagement.
Why does it matter?
In a world where employees and candidates consult their online and offline communities instead of “official” brand channels, employees who advocate for their companies have become a key element in successful recruitment marketing campaigns.
Employee advocacy serves a dual purpose to companies and their brands: it attracts new employees and it drums up new business. But the overall effects span far beyond the bottom line.
In order to be successful, companies should understand who they are as a business. Active employee advocates live and breathe the value proposition and take advantage of sharing any authentic experience that the company provides.
It’s one thing to endorse (or slam) a company on a public forum like Glassdoor, but it’s an entirely different situation to promote a company’s initiatives, their thought leadership, or their people proactively and willingly through other — often personal — channels.
Increasingly, employees are taking the microphone and stepping up to represent their company.
Some companies have built their employee-advocacy activities into their official employee recognition programs, like YouEarnedIt or gift card contests, to galvanize them and incentivize participation. Others have encouraged these behaviors as a means of promoting one’s own brand as well as that of the company. They are creating meaningful links between their people and their public persona.
According to Randstad’s 2018 Global Research Employer Brand Report, an organization’s intangible qualities such as its mission and culture can play a huge role in winning high-quality workers. So, if your company isn’t currently producing easy-to-share thought leadership pieces or doesn’t have the benefit of the media profiling your inspirational executive leaders, identify topics and content that will best represent your employer brand to the masses and provide employees with authentic ways to engage and share.
While asking employees to write Glassdoor reviews or respond to comments is less than ideal (and can compromise the authenticity of the engagement), providing them with other ways to express their support can benefit everyone involved.
Here are a few alternative ways to garner support and encourage employee advocacy:
- Let your employees speak for you and use their networks to broaden your reach by providing their communities with topics of generational and subject-matter interest.
- Give them the tools and inspiration to promote your business through internal brown-bags or company webinars featuring your latest work and results. Or externally using video job requisitions where they can speak to what the job is, why it matters, how their background was relevant, and how the role contributes to your mission and purpose.
- Procure content relevant to your business and/or values. For example, if your company is doing meaningful work in CSR and employee participation is key to the success of the program (e.g. volunteering, community engagement, green, and/or sustainable initiatives), then capture those initiatives by having employees at the center of the story — authoring the content and sharing it accordingly.
- Foster a culture of transparency, engagement, empowerment, and shared understanding of the company’s purpose. One where employees will feel proud and inspired to proactively share and advocate on your behalf, and understand that their participation can pay dividends not only to the company’s health but also to their own career path and growth.
Now, if all of these pieces are in place, then what comes next?
Is your referral program seamless and easy to engage with?
Is the candidate experience across your channels consistent and easy to navigate?
Are your recruiters aligned with the mission and have a pulse on company initiatives showcasing thought leadership?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then address them. As soon as possible.
Ensure the story that your advocates are telling internally is supported by the “whole village” and creates an experience that they — and their future peers — will be proud of and continue to participate in.
And remember. Eight. Times. More. Engagement. Worth a try, no?