Competition over skilled and the most talented employees is constantly getting more intense and in order to stay competitive, organizations need to differentiate themselves from competitive employers. One answer to the growing competition over the skilled workforce is employer branding, which enhances organization's ability to recruit the best possible candidates and maintain existing employee relationships. Related to employer branding, there has recently been a growing interest towards employee advocacy as well, since who could give more truthful and accurate information about company as an employer than employees themselves - both current and former ones.
Strengthen Employer Brand with Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy has been one of the hottest business topics in 2015. But what's employee advocacy all about? Employee advocacy means that employee voluntarily markets own employer e.g. by sharing employer's content in one's personal social media profiles. Due to digitalization, there is a limitless amount of information available, which may make it more difficult for companies to positively stand out from the information overload as an employer. With the help of employee advocates, employer can reach not only a wider audience but also get its voice heard better. The message is more convincing and more likely to stand out when it comes from a company employee than from the company itself. Thus, it is no wonder employee advocacy has raised so much discussion recently.
5+1 Ways to Enhance Employee Advocacy
In my Master's Thesis I study the relationship between employer branding and organizational culture. On a basis of my Thesis and Communications & HR Trainee period at Arcusys, I have noticed few factors that in my opinion are in a key role when enhancing employee advocacy.
Enable employee advocacy. Give your employees reasons to post work and employer related material in their social media channels by investing in organizational culture and employee experience. When being at work is fun, one is often also willing to share the fact with others. Furthermore, make sure that you as an organization share quality content, since no-one is willing to engage with poor content, not to mention share it further.
Encourage, but don't pressure. Employee advocacy should always be based on voluntary. Let your employees practice using social media e.g. by adopting one of the social medias targeted for organizations' internal use. Keep your employees up-to-date about the content you publish and make it easy for your employees to act as advocates e.g. by helping them understand what tags could be used when sharing the content in some. This way you also help the employee to build his/her personal brand.
Keep track of the employees who act as employee advocates and reward them from time to time. Occational recognition encourages to act as an advocate also in the future and inspires others to do it as well.
In many organizations there still prevails an ideology that it's not acceptable to use social media during working hours nor share there anything related to work or employer. It's unfortunate how some still ponder whether the employees will work at all if it is acceptable for them to use social media at work. Well, if they do not, in my opinion the problem is elsewhere than in allowing the usage of social media. To quote our CEO Jussi Hurskainen: "Trust, and people will trust you."
5. Act as an example
As in many other cases too, acting as an example is valid also when it comes to employee advocacy. You can't assume that your employees are willing to act as advocates, if you aren't acting as one yourself. Encourage others to employee advocacy with your own example.
+ Handle exit processes smoothly
Don't forget the power of your former employees, since the message coming from them can be considered even more reliable than the message coming from your current employees. Ensure that the exit processes are always well taken care of in order to guarantee that the leaving employee leaves with a good image of the company.
To sum it up: give your employees reasons to be proud of their work and the company they are working for. I have noticed, that in my own Instagram account 80 percentage of my posts nowadays include the hashtag #WeAreArcusys. Coincidence? I doubt it.
Communications & HR Trainee