Employee engagement and employee advocacy are buzzwords that get thrown around a lot these days. You may be wondering what they mean and what the difference between employee engagement and advocacy is.
Of course, engagement and advocacy are two very different words, but when used so often together and in similar context, it’s easy to get confused. Really though, employee engagement and employee advocacy should be seen as the opposite sides of the same coin: without employee engagement there is no employee advocacy and without employee advocacy, employee engagement has a hard time gaining momentum.
Being An Engaged Employee
So what exactly do the two terms mean then? Let’s start by looking at employee engagement and understanding what it means in a practical sense. It could be described as a way to measure how dedicated an employee is, but it’s also a bit more than that. An engaged employee is someone who genuinely cares about what they do. They are the people who can’t wait to go to work in the mornings because they know that what they do at work matters. They are the people who are happy to talk about their latest project at a dinner party and share it on social media. They’ll also work overtime when it’s needed, without being asked even, because they want to.
“Happy employees are 12% more productive!”
Now, there might be a small voice in the back of your head asking: Does it really matter that employees care so much about their job on a personal level? Isn’t it enough that they do the job they get paid to do, and do it well? In fact, if you’ve ever had a job you didn’t particularly like, I know this is what you’re thinking, because we’ve all thought it at some point. But the fact is that engaged employees are healthier, more satisfied and generally happy employees. And happy employees are 12% more productive!
The Art Of Advocating
Now that we know what it means to have engaged employees, let’s have a closer look at employee advocacy. In short, employee advocacy is when your employees use their voice, their network and power, to advocate for your company. In a sense it’s nothing new: advocating for the company you work for and its values is something most people have been doing on some level. They might mention their latest project at a dinner party or wear a t-shirt with their company logo to the gym. The reason why employee advocacy has become such a buzzword in the last couple of years, is because our lives increasingly exist online and many companies are realising that means we should advocate online too. How do we do that? By giving employees some guidelines and trusting them, they are encouraged to share on social media what they feel is relevant for them to share.
I bet there are a few of you thinking: Wait, I’ve ordered my employees to stay off social media, now you want me to encourage them to engage with it? In short, yes. Your employees already have a presence on social media and nearly 80% of them want to connect with the companies in their lives.
The fact is that your employees and their online networks are a valuable asset to your company and I’ll tell you why:
People Trust People, Not Brands. It may a bit sound idealistic, but studies are showing that people find personal recommendations more trustworthy than any other form of advertising. So if your employees talk about your brand, or share company related content on social media, people are by far more likely to trust that information than if it came from a banner ad or a targeted social media ad.
“People find personal recommendations more trustworthy than any other form of advertising.”
Your Employees Can Reach A Far Bigger Audience Than Your Company. In the last few years, companies have increasingly resorted to promote themselves on social media with company profiles, hoping to reach an audience that might not respond to traditional advertising. However, as this tactic became more popular, social media responded by changing it’s algorithm so that company page updates will only reach around 20% of their connections, unless the company is willing to pay for a so called ‘boost’. Personal profiles, on the other hand, will reach around 80% of their connections. Of course, some employees will have a wider network than others, but having engaged employees who share on social media will help reach a much wider audience and create brand awareness.
Use Those Numbers
This all sounds great, but I bet a few of you are thinking: But do my employees even want to share company related material on social media? Of course they do!
Your Employees Already Share Online. In a recent survey, 56% of employees say they have defended their company to friends, family or on a public venue. Your employees are already advocating for your company, by trusting them to represent you online, you help to humanise your company, increase your reach and make your employees more engaged. When your employees know that they are trusted, and have the freedom, to be advocates for your brand on social media, they also feel more encouraged and valued.
Your Employees Want To Represent Your Company. As mentioned above, nearly 80% of your employees on social media want to connect with the company and more importantly, 61% of those who follow your company on social media would like to act as your brand ambassadors.
It’s not just numbers and surveys, employee advocacy is quickly catching on in the real world: Fortune 500 companies have already picked up on the importance of employee satisfaction, engagement and getting them to act as advocates. Furthermore, in a recent survey 90% of companies polled claimed they “are already pursuing or have plans to pursue some form of employee advocacy,” and so should you. So how can you implement both employee engagement and emplyee advocacy in your company?
“61% of those who follow your company on social media would like to act as brand ambassadors.”
Make The Job Clear: This may sound obvious, but the fact is that nearly six out of ten employees cannot confidently explain what their employers do, or what their goal is. When an employee knows exactly what their job is, and how important it is, they are more likely to be engaged.
Engage In A Dialogue With Your Employees: An active dialogue can be what makes or breaks someone’s engagement. Should you give your employees feedback? Of course! But be prepared to receive it too. The more an employee feels like they are being listened to, the more they feel like they are being valued. And on that note…
Value Your Employees: No matter their title in the company, all employees should be treated as an integral part of the operations. That means making sure they are up to date on coming projects and understand the bigger picture; that they see how their daily contributions work towards making the company what it is.
Enable Internal Communication: Nearly three quarters of employees want their employers to communicate better and more frequently through written means. Making all internal communications easy and efficient makes it easier for your employees to understand the company’s policy and contribute towards building it’s online brand.
Give Your Employees A Voice: Let your employees know that you want them to share on social media. Of course there will always be some who aren’t comfortable with being brand ambassadors, and you have you accept that, but enable those who want to share and encourage those who are hesitant.
Invest In An Employee Advocacy Platform: With a professional platform like Newsio you can easily provide your employees with material to share on social media and enable internal communication. Newsio also allows you to track RRI and keep a clear overview on how your employees are sharing material. It will also allow you to incentivise the sharing via gamification and be in control of what kind of material your employees are sharing.
Of course, employee engagement and advocacy require a certain company culture that doesn’t happen overnight and maintaining a successful employee advocacy program is an ongoing process. However, by following these points you are already well on your way to having engaged employees and with those, you can expect a dramatically increased reach and an improved company culture of engagement and online advocacy.
If you want to know how you can help your employees become powerful advocates of your brand, you should consider investing in an employee advocacy platform like Newsio. Get in touch, we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have and figure out how Newsio can benefit you and your company culture.