Build an Army of Advocates Without Trying
Employee advocacy is the holy grail of employer branding. Getting your team to say good things about your organisation, however, is trickier than it should be. But there is a foolproof way...
It has been said before, but people are the only competitive advantage left in business, and they are also the most powerful and authentic recommendation for your organisation.
Employee review sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Fairygodboss and others are used by 72% of per cent of your candidate audience according to Workplace Trends. Some 39% of employees have posted a review on such sites and further intelligence tells us that employees are more likely to post a review of a negative nature than a positive one.
Which really matters, because one in three job seekers have reportedly turned down a job offer after reading a negative review site posting.
So, you want to do all you can to encourage some warm words from your brightest and best, right?
Well, not exactly.
Smart organisations will focus less on actively trying to create brand advocates and more on building a workplace culture that employees will want to advocate for.
The key is crafting an authentic employer brand and value proposition that naturally inspires the advocacy that you want. Set out to create a brand and a proposition that people naturally want to advocate for, logic says, and the good reviews will follow.
Where many companies go wrong is treating employer branding as an advertising campaign. They broadcast flashy messages about being a “best place to work” or pushing employees to share positive stories on social media. This inauthentic approach rarely convinces people to become true advocates. We’ve all seen those videos of smiles, high fives, and cringe messaging about being ‘more like a family’ and nobody is really falling for it.
Authenticity is the fastest – perhaps the only – route to advocacy.
Being authentic means talking about the challenges and admitting the imperfections in your organisation. Such transparency builds trust and differentiation. Forensic research at all levels of the organisation will uncover what employees value most, which will become the strengths and weaknesses that are spotlighted.
Transparency empowers candidates to self-select in or out. Those who opt in are more likely to thrive in your team. Real employee stories illustrating change and achievement can spark affinity and belonging.
By capturing the authentic employee experience – the good, the bad, and, of course, the ugly – your employer brand becomes a movement employees want to join. The EVP (Employee Value Proposition) will resonate as an honest value exchange and, rather than pushing people to advocate, the brand and proposition sell themselves. Employees become willing ambassadors who knowingly protect, nurture, and proliferate your employee experience and the culture that fuels it.
Instead of loyalty born out of a marketing campaign, your employees will become true believers based on their lived experience. Their advocacy will come from a place of authenticity and produce messaging that resonates.
By capturing and revealing the core of your culture, you attract talent that fits. Your ambassadors then organically evangelise about what makes your organisation special and why they are proud to be there.
Ten ways to build an advocate army
- Conduct extensive research including focus groups and interviews to uncover authentic employee perspectives, values, and pain points. Don't rely on the leadership viewpoint.
- Spotlight harsh realities and address vulnerabilities uncovered through research. Remember, transparency builds trust.
- Use vivid storytelling to bring the employee experience to life. Real stories from your team, spark affinity and belonging.
- Ensure diversity and inclusion are baked into personas and stories. Represent all talent segments' experiences.
- If possible, lean into company purpose and societal impact. Align with motivations beyond just roles and benefits.
- Continuously update your employer brand based on cultural changes and new research. Don't let it stagnate.
- Cascade brand messaging all the way through the candidate journey and employee experience. Consistency drives advocacy.
- Empower employees to co-create content and stories. Collaboration and consensus build…you guessed it… authenticity.
- Provide resources and training for managers to champion the employer brand. Advocacy starts from the top.
- Weave brand messaging into company events, office design and swag. Immersion sparks organic evangelism.