Ever noticed how we always tend towards branded goods – be it your first pair of Levis or the Apple IMac or IPad. So naturally we also aspire to work for an organisation that has a good reputation in the industry and is a ‘great place to work’.
Apart from branding their products and services organisations have realised it’s also essential to carve a niche in the employment market that helps to win the war for talent thus the increased focus on employer branding.
The process though fairly simple on paper takes considerable effort, time and resources to be successful. The senior leadership makes a concerted effort to identify the differentiators which then feed into establishing an ‘Employer Value Proposition’ (EVP). This information is cascaded to employees internally.
What’s extremely crucial here is that the employees experience first-hand all that the organisation claims to stand for. This goes a long way to help build the culture. Finally when the external touch points have knowledge about and experience this employer value proposition, the organisation is on its way to becoming an employer of choice for aspiring candidates.
There are a lot of clichés associated with marketing like “Build raving fans”, “Delight your customers” or “Word of mouth is the best form of advertising”. Now apply these to the organisation and it’s easy to see why employees are the best brand ambassadors for the organisation.
Advantages of employees as brand ambassadors
Here are the reasons that make employees good brand ambassadors for employer branding activities:
They live the brand – No one can describe the organisation better than the employees who experience the culture & values of the organisation on a daily basis. They are thus in the best position to convey their experiences to the outside world.
Their opinion is valued: When it comes to information about the organisation it’s interesting to note that employees rank higher in public trust than an organisation’s PR department. So the first person an external party turns to for reinforcement about the organisation is an employee (present or past) of the organisation.
They have instant access to social media: Using employees as brand ambassadors is one of the quickest methods of employer branding. Most employees have instant access to social media, which works favourably for the organisation.
This channel does not require activation: Unlike all other branding initiatives that require activation, employees automatically become brand ambassadors based on their experiences with the organisation.
This channel cannot be replicated: Competitors cannot replicate employer branding that takes place through employees. Also the benefits of brand building that satisfied employees can reap for the organisation is beyond any other form of employer branding.
Roadmap to Cultivate Employee Ambassadors
Considering the benefits that organisations get from using employees as brand ambassadors its essential for organisations need to create a culture that provides a compelling story that the employees can then convey internally and externally. Here are some of the initiatives that can be taken at the organisational level:
Employee engagement and branding go hand in hand. An engaged employee is satisfied, productive and believes in delighting customers. In this case not only the employees but also customers are more likely to share their experiences with prospective candidates. An engaged employee is more likely to share his/her good experiences with others. Happy employees not only share good experiences with prospective candidates but also believe in customer delight. Retention rate is also higher amongst engaged employees.
Senior Leadership Commitment
Employer Branding cannot succeed without the commitment of the senior leadership. The entire employer branding initiative requires the buy-in and commitment from the leaders of the organisation. The leaders play an important role to help the employees understand the essence of the brand by clearly defining and elaborating the desirable traits and expected behaviours. The employees also need to see their leaders as role models and want to emulate them.
Linkage to performance metrics
Engraining the brand essentials into the performance management system of the organisation is essential in the effort to building employee brand ambassadors in the organisation. The system should be easy enough for employees to evaluate themselves whether they are living the values of the organisation and helping build an organisation that becomes the employer of choice in the industry.
Align processes of the organisation to reflect the employer brand
Ensuring all the processes of the organisation align with the culture and the brand values that the organisation is trying to build helps steer the overall initiatives towards employer branding. For example: The interview process should be handled in a way that the candidates get a feel of the brand even during their short interaction and leave with a positive impression whether they are selected or not.
Manage social media presence
The rise of social media has significantly increased the possibilities for employees as brand ambassadors. Organisations thus not only need to focus on their online presence and activities but also have to train their employees. It’s important to help the employees understand that they are responsible for managing the brand image of the organisation. This will instil the seriousness associated with sharing critical information about the organisation. Of course social media cannot be managed in entirety. Employees as well as clients are free to share opinions if not information and ensuring the positive gets more frequently shared is important.
Use of ex-employee network
Ex-employees are also great brand builders for the organisation. There is bound to be attrition in the organisation, but if employees leave with a good taste they are willing to share and build on the relationships that they’ve established at their workplace. Maintaining contact with ex-employees will help as a good word from them will work very favourably for potential candidates.
In conclusion, its essential to note that there while employees as ambassadors help tremendously in building the employer brand, organisations also need to educate the employees about the thin line that distinguishes the information they can share publicly and the information that’s confidential.
Employees need to be aware that they are carry an enormous responsibility as a brand ambassadors and they understand the implications of the benefits as well as risks the organisation encounters based on their action.