Employees can be your organisation’s biggest advocates, yet so often this valuable marketing asset is just referred to simply as ‘the people who work for the company’.
Employees are one of the most valuable assets an organisation has, but so is its brand. It’s what differentiates it in the market; it’s the promise to customers. And the brand promise is delivered not only by its products and services but also through the behaviour and values of its employees. For example, you could spend millions of pounds on advertising campaigns that say you put the customer first but if the level of customer service is poor, then you’re not delivering on your brand promise.
By creating employee advocates who live and breathe your brand, you can not only deliver better customer service and experience, but also better business results and an improved reputation.
What is an employee advocate?
Employee advocacy is the promotion of an organisation through the actions of its staff members. It is when employees sincerely support reputation and promote a positive image of their employer, and it happens as a result of an effective corporate culture, that respects and values their employees. In some organisations, they call their employee advocates, brand advocates.
Measuring employee advocacy
Measuring employee advocacy is simple; all you need is for your employees to answer two questions:
- How likely are you to recommend your company’s products or services to a friend or family member?
- How likely are you to recommend a job at your company to a friend or family member?
You can either conduct a short survey or include them as part of an annual employee engagement survey. Once you have established your baseline, then you can implement programmes to increase employee advocacy.
How do you create employee advocates?
You can’t directly create employee advocates. Instead you need to engage employees so that they understand the brand and feeling personally invested in its success. In other words, you need to invest in educating, engaging, and energising your employees.
Employees can’t be brand advocates if they don’t understand the brand. HR and marketing professionals need to work together to communicate the brand values, through key messages in all internal communications pieces such as newsletters, intranet, town hall meetings and speeches by senior leaders.
Recognition is a fundamental, and often overlooked tool in engaging employees. Its power lies in its widespread impact, helping to create and sustain a value-driven organisation. Peer to peer recognition and manager instant reward programmes allow people to recognise and thank each other when they see someone demonstrating the brand values.
Providing your employees with opportunities to live the brand is critical to them becoming employee advocates. This could include paid time off for them to volunteer in the community, or cross-company social get-togethers to create a fun environment.
In today’s market getting your employees to be advocates for your brand has never been more important. Employee brand advocacy through having employees promote a positive image of your organisation, recommend your products or services or recommend a job at your company to a friend or family member is an important competitive advantage as it is something that your competitors cannot replicate.