Encouraging employees to vouch for your brand outside of the office isn’t an automatic response; it’s a learned behavior that develops from a supportive internal framework.
In fact, it can only exist when leadership is devoted to building a trusting culture with company values they bring to life daily in the work environment. Examples include sticking to commitments, keeping employees informed in a consistent fashion, ensuring there is transparency around company-wide decisions and building in recognition and rewards around company values in action.
According to a survey by The Harris Poll, 26% of employed Americans reported they would be more likely to share their company’s content on personal channels if someone in a leadership role simply asked them to. Meanwhile, 24% said a direct connection to content would increase their willingness to post.
With these statistics in mind, executives should reflect on who owns their company’s employee advocacy plan and devise steps to increase internal alignment.
Designate Roles and Stick to Them
Managers and senior leaders have the power to set a company-wide standard for advocacy. Employees are motivated by clear direction, which is notably more influential if it comes from the top.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, companies that fail to assign ownership or enforce accountability are bound to experience frustration and inaction.
When it comes to the specific department in charge, your human resources department and internal communications team should both have a seat at the table. However, a siloed approach will only lead to friction. Receiving information from two sources simultaneously, even if their content is similar, could muddy the message for employees.
Instead of operating on their own terms, the two entities should join forces and present one strategic plan, even if team responsibilities are divided. For example, the chief marketing officer may provide content and templates for social media posts while the head of human resources outlines incentives for employees who choose to participate. The common denominator is their unified stance on the actions they intend for employees to take.
Create Distinct Opportunities for Employees
Fostering an inclusive company culture is another integral step leaders can take to motivate employee advocacy. Leaders can cultivate this structure for employees with a strengthened volunteer arm, cross-functional collaboration and transparent communication. Your approach should be unique to your company and align with your mission, vision and values. This will motivate employees to be champions of your brand.
Employees are advocates for what they believe in and their social channels are a tell-tale sign of whether their company’s culture reflects their values. As nearly half of Gen Z and millennials scour social media for their next job, it’s up to the leaders who own employee advocacy to set the tone as a compelling workplace.
Synthesize Your Strategy Across all Departments
In today’s work-from-anywhere culture, a cohesive strategy is hard to come by. But businesses that operate in silos can fall victim to neglecting employees or hiring with haste. To avoid making these mistakes, departments should keep each other informed of their activities and schedule consistent check-ins to ensure their strategies are aligned.
Owning employee advocacy isn’t about coercion; it’s about building trust between all aspects of an organization. Leaders who affirm one another encourage employees to do the same. As the Harris Poll found, clear direction and meaningful connections are cornerstones of success. Comms teams and other departments should unite to bring these goals to life.
The results are clear — brands that prioritize employee advocacy earn up to 40% more overall engagement than those that don’t. An integrated approach to advocacy is well worth the effort for engagement's sake and for employee satisfaction.
Kathleen Lucente is CEO of Red Fan Communications.