On one end, there’s employee advocacy which is about empowering employees to promote the company’s branded content across their personal networks. On the other end, there’s employee engagement, which focuses on creating a positive work environment where employees feel motivated, inspired, confident, and satisfied.
These seem to be strikingly different – one is a practical strategy and the other is an emotional state. However, there is a direct correlation between employee advocacy and employee engagement. Picture them as a cake: they are both made up of the same fundamental ingredients: contribution, transparency, recognition, and satisfaction.
Quite simply, when employees become brand ambassadors, they feel a vested interest in the company’s success and are therefore engaged in exceeding the stated requirements of their job. And the more employees feel engaged, the more they want to continue talking and promoting the company’s brand.
Why Employee Advocacy is Important for Employee Engagement: 4 Key Ingredients
1. Employees are empowered to contribute to the company’s bottom-line
Employees need to be offered opportunities and technologies to develop new skills and contribute to the company’s goals. This is especially important for millennials who have grown up in a digital-savvy world. In fact, by 2025, millennials are predicted to make up nearly 75% of the global workforce. But it’s not just about millennials, it’s about creating an ecosystem in which every employee, no matter the generation, feels that he/she can accelerate innovation and grow with the company.
Employee advocacy is one ideal way to leverage employee contribution. With the proper social advocacy tools, advocates can easily (and proudly) amplify a brand’s social reach and help grow a vibrant company culture. Best-in-class companies are 30% more likely than all others to implement new employee engagement technologies (such as social advocacy) this year.
But employees cannot contribute to the company’s marketing at the snap of a finger. It takes a carefully planned onboarding process to fully gain employees’ engagement and immerse them in the program. The onboarding process is also the first step towards informing employees of what’s expected of them and how they can benefit from advocacy.
Following a successful onboarding process, a top advocacy program encourages employees to share rich, educational, and up-to-date content that is directly tied to their position in the company and target audience. Allowing employees to share great content also helps them establish thought-leadership. Their authentic and credible voice begins to represent the brand’s online persona and increase engagement – such as likes, shares, and clicks. At times, employees can even help drive conversions for their company. Overall, these small but effective contributions secure high engagement and keep employees informed about the latest in the industry.
2. Employees experience a transparent work culture
Having a transparent work environment is key to keeping employees on top of the company’s goals. 28% of companies believe that a lack of transparency and communication around internal decisions are major factors when employees leave an organization. Employees deserve to get information and insight about their own performance–and how it compares to their fellow team members–to be able to exceed it.
Through an advocacy leaderboard, employees can be constantly updated and notified on the details of their performance – from how many posts they each shared, to the number of clicks that their posts garnered. They should be able to view this on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Creating this sort of transparency ensures that employees are well-informed and driven to boost their own results.
Lastly, but most importantly, providing employees access to their own ranking in an advocacy program increases their independence and encourages communication between peers. Employees should be given the technological tools which they can access at any time, anywhere, so they remain active on social media even after company hours.
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3. Employees are recognized and appreciated for their contribution
It’s imperative to have a workplace where employees feel engaged, yet appreciated. While companies enjoy the sustained benefits from their advocates’ contribution, recognizing employees for their work should not go unforgotten. The importance of creating an incentive-driven advocacy program and an overall motivated workplace cannot be overstated.
Employees might love advocating for their company and bolstering their thought-leadership status, but it can sometimes be hard for them to stay engaged, let alone committed. Having a formal employee advocacy program is more likely to drive engagement and ensure that employees are incentivized for their work. Of course, not all employees will exhibit top-notch results, neither will they all be enthusiastic about participating in the program, hence why it’s important to continually gauge and measure the program’s’ – as well as individual employees’ – effectiveness. This is the only way to make smart decisions about improving the incentive strategy.
Many companies incentivize advocates by gamifying the program – creating some friendly competition among employees to see who will share the most content and generate the most engagement. Best-in-class organizations extend their efforts beyond social recognition by offering employees physical rewards, for example, after-hour events, trips, and office parties.
Recognizing brand ambassadors’ achievement internally by setting employees’ behavior as an example for future employee advocates, also reinforces a high-performance culture. So regardless of whether the employee advocacy program is small or company-wide, there are numerous ways to demonstrate a company’s appreciation. And the end result is increased employee engagement!
4. Employees are satisfied to exceed their goals
While job security used to be enough to maintain employees in their organization, the new generations strive for opportunities that increase their skills, contribute to their company’s success, and have a dynamic corporate culture. In fact, a social advocacy program offers all of these elements!
With the right thought-leadership pieces, easy-to-use tools, and an ongoing incentive strategy, social advocacy helps to increase employee satisfaction. Employees come into the office with a desire to stay informed by the company’s content, act as team players, and proudly promote their company’s message on their networks to make an impact.
Despite that the overall employee satisfaction percentage declined to 45%, companies can help increase this number and bring engagement back into the workplace by implementing a proper advocacy plan.
Why engagement is important to the health of the company
By integrating the digital tools to support and sustain a social advocacy program, companies can create a digitally-oriented work culture that brings employees together. Such tools need to create a positive employee experience that focuses on contribution, transparency, recognition of success, and not to mention satisfaction.
Even in the days when employees don’t have a lot of free time on their hands, it’s essential that the advocacy tools are easy-to-use and allow employees to quickly share content with their followers. When complemented by a proper advocacy strategy, this technology can do wonders for employees’ engagement and their company as a whole!
The benefits of employee engagement to organizations are well documented, from how it affects retention, to productivity, to profit, and to the bottom line. For instance, companies with a formal engagement strategy in place are 67% more likely to improve their revenue per FTE on a year-over-year basis. According to the Corporate Leadership Council, highly engaged organizations also reduce turnover by 87% and improve performance by 20%.
Employees who serve as advocates are more engaged at work, and engaged employees are more likely to become better advocates – and this cycle continues.
So how will you increase employee engagement in your workplace? Will you implement a social advocacy program? Let us know in the comments below!