By business author and Purple Cubed founder, Jane Sunley
For quite some time now the lines have been blurring between internal and external communication. Therefore, alignment between the people function and marketing has become business critical. Today’s people leader is fast becoming a marketer.
If you think about it, the principles of marketing can also apply to attracting, engaging, and retaining your people and thus enabling them to become your brand ambassadors. Take SharpSpring’s Top 10 Tips for Marketing 2019, for example:
- Look for opportunities to diversify – in a literal sense, diversity and inclusivity are vital, though also it’s about always looking for better ways to amaze your teams
- Embrace social – social recruiting is now the norm and more effective than traditional means and also necessary to enable on-going dialogue
- Focus on existing content – could read ‘existing people’ though also clarity and consistency of key messaging
- Nurture brand advocates – absolutely – see below
- Constantly optimise the user experience – yep your people promise is a biggie and to know how to evolve it, you’ll need to consult them
- Connect online and offline strategies – because your employees are going to expect a consumer grade tech experience at work
- Create a memorable message – clear purpose and values so people know ‘why’ and ‘how’, then make sure communication channels are effective
- Build partnerships – transparent and trusting relationships with your people and forging links within the gig economy
- Make performance analysis on-going – always-on support, help with progression and improving performance
And my favourite…
- Prioritise authenticity – today’s employee will accept nothing less
Yes, HR has become a marketing job. In the same way that marketers make their organisations more successful with more sustainable growth through creating brand advocates, so must businesses be looking at how to create employee advocacy. And the only way to do that (unless you bribe them!) is to create a workplace that people are proud to work in and want to tell people about; they naturally become your brand ambassadors. Take this video from Merivale, for example, which prioritises the employee experience over the business by a mile and would appeal to both consumer and job seeker. I’m pretty sure no one forced these advocates to enthuse about their workplace.
To harness this phenomenal people power however, you can’t just ask (or tell!) them. It needs to happen naturally because people are enthusiastic about what you’re doing, take pride and want to tell others about it. This is why I don’t see the point of employee advocacy programmes; this should be about a cohesive and comprehensive approach to making the employee experience the best it can be. Trust and authenticity again.
84% of consumers value recommendations from friends and family over brand generated content. Your employees are already connected to thousands of people and the information they share is likely to be eight times more engaging and will go 61% further than anything the organisation puts out there. There’s so much potential here; your people are not only advocates of your workplace, they’ll also be promoting your products and services…
Boosting attraction and retention through real employee engagement throughout this journey is key because, as we all know, engaged companies have 22% higher productivity and twice the success rate of other less engaged organisations (Gallup).
For the avoidance of doubt, neither marketing nor HR should ‘own’ your culture. Yes, they should work closely to facilitate the clear definition of your purpose, values and behaviours. They should collaborate on producing the right messaging and embed it across everything you do and then they should provide the know-how and support to make sure it becomes embedded firmly and sustainably from the very top all the way through your organisation.
For advice on how to improve employee advocacy, boost employee engagement and become a great place to work, contact us here.