Fully engaged employees in any organisation tend to be more diligent workers, more productive, and generally report higher satisfaction levels in the workplace. But did you know employee engagement can also build employee advocacy?
While many employees are passionate about their jobs and workplaces, others only show up to push through the motions and get to their next pay cheque. While there may be several reasons for this difference, the issue is often poor employee engagement.
Studies have shown that businesses that invest in employee engagement experience a significant boost in their profits — sometimes as high as 21%. However, it is not all about the profit margins (at least not directly).
An excellent employee engagement program in the workplace can help you win genuine and enthusiastic employee advocacy for your business! Yes, happier employees often go out of their way to promote their workplaces amongst friends, family, and even on social media.
But how can you use employee engagement to inspire advocacy among your workers? This article shares insight into employee engagement and how it relates to employee advocacy. We also walk you through how to engage your workers such that they develop a sense of advocacy for your business.
Employee engagement: a quick insight
One of the keys to successful businesses that stand the test of time is diligent and purposeful employees dedicated to organisational goals. Thankfully, employee engagement is an excellent way to help your staff buy into these goals.
By engaging your employees, you show them that you value their efforts and contributions. More importantly, they see and feel that they are making a difference. As a result, they can connect their professional lives to their well-being, not just as a means to the next pay cheque.
No doubt, all this sounds fantastic. However, these results will not happen by chance. A good employee engagement initiative takes time, proper planning, and superb execution.
Here are some ways you can engage your workers and help them feel appreciated:
- Provide a flexible work schedule that’s more result-oriented and less rigid about the process toward the goal.
- Communicate with your employees and remember to listen. Also, when you make announcements, remember to ask for their feedback. Communication is a two-way street, and it should be no different in the workplace.
- Provide opportunities for your employees to gain advanced knowledge and skills in their roles through training sessions, skill-building initiatives, tuition reimbursement, learning bonuses, and more.
- Look out for achievements among your staff, acknowledge them, and reward them. This way, your employees know that you see them and value what they bring to the team. Of course, this can also be a source of motivation for them.
- Be transparent and forthcoming. Your employees should feel confident about their place and happenings in the office.
- Finally, try to involve your employees as much as possible in workplace decision-making. This way, they can feel like their opinions matter to the team.
Employee engagement may take some time and effort to figure out and implement. But once you do, the results are usually super impressive.
Employee advocacy: a quick overview
Did you know a potential customer is more likely to trust what they hear from an employee rather than from the brand itself? Yes, employee endorsements carry significant weight, which is why organisations must invest in their employee advocacy programs.
Employee advocacy refers to the promotion and recommendation of a company — and its product or services — by those working at that organisation, without a prompt from their employer or superior. Unfortunately, most employees will not arrive at advocacy on their own, at least not without some gentle pushes and incentives.
This means creating an effective employee advocacy program is crucial.
An employee advocacy program is a highly effective marketing strategy that lets businesses tap into the rich resource of their employees’ social networks to increase the organisation’s visibility and attract more customers.
Unlike brand ambassadors, advocate employees do not get paid to push their organisations out to other people. Instead, they do so because they genuinely want to do it and feel like they are offering top value to the people they tell.
But it’s not all about marketing and publicity.
Employee advocacy will also help you create a team of loyal and passionate workers committed to your business’s growth and progress.
Here are some considerations when drawing up your employee advocacy plan:
- Set your goals. Do you want employee advocacy to boost sales or improve brand visibility? By establishing your goals, you can ensure your plans align with your objectives. More importantly, you’ll know the metrics to track when measuring your success rate.
- Select your advocates. The truth is only some employees will be interested or willing to help you push your business either by word of mouth or on their social media. Therefore, it is usually best to target eager employees.
- Plan for advocacy training. While it feels like advocacy should come instinctively to your employees, training is essential. After all, you don’t want them to overshare. Besides, you want your employees to be able to highlight your business’s finer points. Help your employees understand boundaries and how to stay within them.
- Track your metrics. It is critical that you track and measure your advocacy performance metrics. This way, you know what works and what aspects you need to change in your employee advocacy plan.
Employee engagement and advocacy: how they combine
While you’ll typically find members of any company’s sales and marketing teams talking about their organisations online and everywhere else, the remaining employees usually will not — except when they have an incentive.
Fortunately, the incentive does not have to be monetary or a related motivational device. Sometimes, all you have to do is engage your employees and see how it works wonders.
Consider how a business that engages its customers is more likely to get referrals from them.
Imagine you follow up on a recent customer with appreciation emails, feedback surveys, and discounts. This customer will feel valued and is likely to share their stories with a friend or two, even if you didn’t ask them to.
The same thing can happen with your employees.
For instance, say a new employee joins your organisation. You and the rest of your team send them warm welcome messages and maybe some presents. Chances are, they’ll tell people about it and may even go on to share it on their social media accounts.
You’d have one advocate already!
More importantly, their shares and posts are significantly more valuable because they were voluntary.
Both employee engagement and employee advocacy have one fundamental element — trust. In other words, your team members should feel a personal (not just a professional) connection to your company and its objectives if you want them to become advocates.
However, as long as you’re positively engaging your employees, you’re on your way to winning some advocates.
How to use employee engagement to inspire advocacy
Employee engagement and employee advocacy work hand in glove. In other words, you cannot have one without the other. So, how do you engage your employees and drive them toward advocacy?
The key to inspiring advocacy among your employees is trust and togetherness. Beyond that, here are some tips to help you improve your employee engagement program:
Sync employee key result areas (KRA) with overall organisational goals
Every employee has unique professional goals. However, the best employees are those whose goals align with your organisation’s objectives. This is because they are usually invested in working towards your company’s goals as much as they are interested in achieving their own.
However, for this to happen, you’ll need to identify these shared goals and help your employees understand how they align. After all, you don’t want them making abstract, out-of-place plans that can disrupt your business’s flow.
So, take the time to invest in orientations and training beforehand.
Here is a quick guide for your training programs:
- Try to make the information detailed but not overwhelming. Team members should not have to do so much work to extract essential details from the materials.
- Always leverage infographics and related visual tools to present exhausting data. Better still, consider converting everything into a simple presentation.
- Continuously impress the goal — employee advocacy — on your employees. Some ideas include quizzes, interactive emails, and gamification. If you choose emails as your preferred method, don’t forget to employ an excellent email manager to help you keep track of the data.
- Also, provide insight and direction for your staff members. They should always know whether their efforts yield the desired results and what they need to do to improve them.
Remember, the more your employees understand your organisational goals (and how they relate to their own), the more invested they are in working to achieve them — which is a plus in your advocacy goals.
Help your employees feel more involved
Most people do not like to be on the sidelines watching things happen without them. So, chances are, your employees do not want to feel that way either.
Therefore, it is always best to prioritise inclusion in your organisation.
Try empowering your employees to feel confident and motivated enough to share their ideas with you. More importantly, ensure you recognise their efforts when they do. In addition, if your employees don’t report directly to you, ensure that your top personnel are approachable and available when workers need help.
Also, if ideas from employees take off and yield positive results, make sure to acknowledge and credit the source of those ideas. If you can, give them some compensation or bonuses. Here are some reasons why this is essential:
- It promotes trust and team spirit in the workplace.
- More team members will want to come forward with their ideas.
- You can learn more about your employees, which strengthens the employee-employer relationship.
Dividing your employees into teams can help each person feel more involved and provides more opportunities for interaction and engagement — which are pillars of employee advocacy. So, consider creating smaller cells among your employees.
Encourage more thought leadership
Thought leadership describes the expression of ideas or thought patterns that show that you are an expert in a particular field or subject matter. However, beyond possessing superior knowledge, only employees who are passionate and comfortable in the office can demonstrate thought leadership.
Here are some ideas on how to promote thought leadership in the workplace:
- Create channels for deeper connection and ensure your employees see and know that they can approach you when they need to.
- Reduce the red tape and make your office more approachable. If you can, consider bringing down walls and opening up the spaces in your organisation’s building.
- Promote your employees’ ideas (especially when they’re successful) on your social media and other publicity channels.
- Encourage employees to push boundaries and think outside the box with their ideas.
- Help your employees take pride in coming forward with their ideas by commending them both publicly and privately.
For instance, you can ask your team members to create a short video where they speak about a trending industry topic. Then, you can share the brightest idea on your company’s public profile. Better still, merge multiple videos that stand out and share that.
By acknowledging your employees’ efforts publicly, you motivate them to do more and inspire their loyalty.
Ensure your company values reflect in your actions
Your company values (and advocacy goals) shouldn’t only be a mantra. Instead, you should practise what you preach.
Your employees are more likely to tell others about the company if they see that you hold yourselves to the same standards you ask them to uphold. In the same way, if your employees see you pushing your business on your social media and similar channels, they’ll likely feel the need to join in more.
Besides, reflecting your company values in your conduct lends a more authentic appeal to your organisation.
Your values should be straightforward to understand. Otherwise, you risk leading your employees in the wrong direction and affecting productivity. Consider asking your team members about your organisational values. This way, you know what they think, expect, and how to manage employees better.
Advocacy may take many forms — from word of mouth to online reviews and social media posts. However, engagement is usually the starting point. In other words, if you can gainfully engage your employees, they’ll become advocates for your business.
Additionally, engaged employees are usually more loyal and stick to your company for the long haul to ensure sustained productivity, growth, and succession.
So, invest in your employees by providing career growth opportunities, competitive compensation, and other incentives, ensuring a positive workplace environment. This ensures you can enjoy the benefits of an engaged workforce — employee advocacy, among others.
About the Author
Roman Shvydun writes informative articles about free email for Mac, marketing, business, productivity, workplace culture, etc. His articles focus on balancing information with SEO needs, but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read.