Put in the most simple terms, employee advocacy is usually defined as the promotion of an organization by its staff. In practice, there is a little more to it than that. Effective employee advocacy relies on an engaged workforce, one that buys into a credible narrative about your brand. It goes far beyond simply telling friends how great your job is or creating the odd LinkedIn post.
To be able to put the right employee advocacy program in place, therefore, companies first need to have a strong level of employee engagement. If they can achieve this and are successful in creating a culture of employee advocacy, they’ll benefit from boosted visibility, improved brand perception, and have employees that are more optimistic about the company’s future.
What is employee engagement?
It’s one thing to talk about boosting employee engagement – but quite another to actually achieve it. The first step is understanding the definition of “employee engagement.” Employee engagement is a broad workplace approach to creating the right environment for your workers to give their best each day. It’s based on trust, commitment, and communication – and is always a two-way process, involving both employer and employee. And it’s certainly something worth prioritizing. Organizations that record high levels of employee engagement are 21% more profitable than those that do not.
Challenges of frontline employee engagement
Much of the discussion around how to boost employee engagement centers on desk workers. This is despite the fact that 80% of the global workforce is made up of frontline workers – the kind that work in hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and quick-service restaurants. For these employees, the usual tactics deployed to improve engagement, like scheduling regular meetings, installing new PC software, and issuing workplace surveys, simply do not work.
Related: Improving communication for frontline employees
Benefits of Employee Advocacy
Creating engaged frontline workers, and in turn, instilling a sense of employee advocacy is essential for many businesses. Higher levels of engagement lead to happier, more productive frontline employees, who subsequently go on to be brand advocates for your organization. This employee advocacy leads to better service for your customers and makes workers more likely to recommend other top candidates to work for your organization. Overall, you’ll be rewarded with a higher quality of workforce and better ROI.
8 tips to make your employees true brand evangelists
It’s time to turn employee advocacy into more than just a buzzword. Here’s our list of the eight employee advocacy best practices you should be following:
1. Connect & Engage with your employees
Organize workplace challenges, share team photos, and break down communication silos by allowing employees to communicate with other colleagues, locations, and departments. For frontline workers, it can be difficult to connect with colleagues as there may not be a shared staff area to frequent and they may be working different shifts. Using employee engagement platforms to schedule team activities, for example, can result in workers that are much more emotionally invested in your brand.
2. Offer a fun and interactive training environment
Training can be difficult to administer when you have a lot of frontline workers. With the right employee experience platform, however, e-learning modules and onboarding initiatives can be fed straight to a worker’s smartphone. Not only will this help them develop their skills, generally, but offering fun and interactive ways to do so can help specifically with employee advocacy.
3. Be transparent
Before organizations begin promoting employee engagement programs or advocacy tools, it’s important that they are transparent with their workers about why these things are important. Promote brand evangelism internally but don’t try to force it. Employees will see through this and likely end up more disengaged than before.
4. Embrace feedback and empower your employees
Give your frontline workers a voice through polls, surveys, and other feedback forms. Are you going to introduce a new reservation system? Then be sure to ask employees what they think of it. Invite workers to trial new solutions before they are launched formally. An employee that feels like they are being listened to is much more likely to promote the company externally. Plus, according to recent research, 56% of frontline employees have suggestions for improving company practices. Don’t let this resource go unused.
5. Recognize the hard work of your employees
Show them how their job contributes to overall company objectives and reward individuals for a job well done. According to Harvard Business Review, 72% of firms said recognition given for high performers significantly impacted employee engagement. When your workers feel appreciated, they are more likely to organically promote their workplace; they’ll become part of your employee advocacy program without even realizing it.
6. Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Workers generally don’t appreciate being spammed with messages after their shift is done, so don’t add them to company WhatsApp groups. Instead, a bespoke employee experience platform makes a better alternative for allowing your frontline employees to remain connected, while also allowing them to switch off when the time is right.
7. Measure real-time engagement
Check engagement stats per employee, department, or location. See where your efforts are working well and where you need to focus more attention. Word-of-mouth advocacy may be difficult to track but online channels, like social media, provide a great way of measuring the impact of your employee’s brand advocacy.
8. Make it fun!
When performed badly, employee advocacy can be yet another top-down workplace chore. But it needn’t be. Gamification can be used to boost both engagement and advocacy, with organizations offering workers rewards when they carry out activities that are part of their advocacy program.
Turn your frontline workers into advocates for your brand by taking employee engagement to new heights. To find out how you can use an employee experience platform to improve engagement at your workplace, download our Frontline EX Guide now.