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What you need to know about employee advocacy

Sunday is a trip day for my family. We have this “tradition” of having take-out food when we return home – always from the same chain restaurant, close to our house. While the menu is wonderful and the taste is great, it’s a struggle with service because the employees change frequently. There’s been a “Seeking friendly manager” announcement at the entrance for three months now.

It will come as no surprise when I say that the people who work there always seem grumpy, which accounts for the high turnover rate and no luck finding a new manager.

So, as a test, last Sunday, I asked the server if I should apply for a job there, with no experience in hospitality. It’s easy to guess that I got a negative response.

What is employee advocacy?

The funny thing is that the particular restaurant chain invests in paid advertising. It presents itself as a great work environment, with a strong company culture and ethical code for its employees and sustainability issues.

However, as long as the on-the-ground experience isn't that great, their Marketing budget goes to waste because they're obviously not walking their talk.

Employee advocacy is the promotion of an organization by its members through raising brand awareness, product promotion, or recommendations to other people.

How important is it?

A recent study conducted on the subject found that:

  • Employee advocacy can be expressed verbally or nonverbally – so yes, disgruntled employees are a pretty good indication of how they feel about their work and the company;
  • There is a positive impact on human capital when there is genuine employee advocacy – it’s easier to recruit talented individuals and lower turnover rates through good employee engagement practices;
  • Employee advocacy has a direct positive impact on growth and sales;
  • Employee advocacy helps build your organization's good reputation and is a big factor when it comes to issue management.

Employee opinions are more trusted than corporate advertising

You probably already know that peer recommendation is one of the most powerful drivers of modern-day marketing. That’s why customer and influencer reviews are so important. And it’s also why people are more likely to trust an employee’s opinion than a good PR campaign.

As Nathan Eagan, founder of the former PeopleLinx, said,

Your organization has thousands of websites, not just one. Your employees are the long tail of your brand identity.

What workers say or post about their employer has an extensive reach. Obviously, you want people to share the good things about your organization.

Read more: Build a connection culture and boost employee engagement

How can organizations up their Employee Advocacy game?

It’s impossible to control what people think and say about your company. However, it’s within the prerogatives of good HR to ensure a positive work environment and build a healthy company culture.

People tend to remember and talk about their negative experiences more than the positive ones. It’s essential to consistently make the latter very good. Also, encourage employees to talk about your brand. Doing so will show them that their voices matter and let them know that they are important to the business's promotion.

What are the best ways to ensure employee advocacy?

  • The most effective manner to ensure people speak well of their employer is to be constantly mindful of employee satisfaction; running surveys and having brainstorming sessions to find out why people are happy or unhappy is essential to having a satisfied workforce.
  • Swag is still going strong – all the merchandise that employees receive on various occasions is excellent advertising. It speaks volumes if they are proud enough to wear the branded clothing and use or gift other items with the company name. However, you have to be very careful with the quality – if the items are cheap, they will probably get damaged easily, and it will have the opposite effect.
  • Incentives and recognition are important – people crave recognition for their achievements. And when they do, they usually like to talk about it, with their families and on social media.

Read more: Showing appreciation for employees during and after Covid-19

Closing thoughts

When thinking of your company’s brand, it’s important to consider what people are saying about you, not only what you are trying to present. Employee advocacy is the most efficient business card you could put out in the world.

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