In a traditionally siloed company, marketing and human resources generally don’t have much interaction. Sure, the marketing team might be the first ones to promote job openings on their social media accounts, but aside from that, their job responsibilities typically lie pretty far afield from those of HR.
All that is changing at many companies, where boosting employee engagement makes for powerful brand advocacy. When social media was in its infancy, many brands frantically sought ways to keep their employees away from these platforms. The thinking at the time was that team members are better off avoiding the distractions and employer branding pitfalls associated with social media. Now, brands are recognizing the benefit of having engaged employees advocating for their brands.
Executives are beginning to realize the marketing benefits of engaged employees (traditionally a problem that falls under the realm of HR) and are strategically encouraging their employees to get involved in campaigns that help meet recruitment goals, raise overall employee engagement and morale, and widen the brand’s footprint on social channels.
The Marketing and Productivity Dangers of Disengaged Workers
Before we get into the strategic marketing potential behind employee engagement, let’s take a closer look at the potential cost of disengaged employees.
According to 2016 stats from Gallup, businesses are facing what they’ve termed a “worldwide employee engagement crisis,” with only 32 percent of U.S. workers reporting they are enthusiastic about their jobs and committed to their workplaces. Worldwide, that number is a dismal 13 percent.
Failing to rectify low employee engagement can lead to absenteeism, churn, poor quality work, bad decision-making and even accidents and injuries. Disengaged teams can also lead to a public appearance that’s less than helpful when attempting to meet your recruitment, morale and marketing goals.
On the other hand, when a solid employee engagement program is in place, it can go a long way towards ensuring that everyone is aware of, and therefore invested in, the company’s strategies, priorities and objectives.
The Marketing Mojo of Engaged Employees
Getting employees involved in “non-job-related tasks” can be a challenge. And maintaining brand standards and staying on-point with messaging can get dicey. That’s why using the right tech tools can be a huge boon.
Here are three principles to help guide your employee engagement, employee advocacy and employer branding programs, along with some tools that can help make things easier on you.
Make a Game Out of it
Of course, social selling isn’t just about distributing your company’s marketing materials, but about cultivating thought leadership in your field. To do this, it’s important to share curated content from relevant third-party sources.
Platforms like Smarp and Linkedin Elevate help to streamline this process, by offering a stream of relevant content that employees can easily schedule for sharing with their own social graphs. Whether it’s your company’s content marketing assets, an authoritative publication’s coverage of what your brand is up to or even just an insightful article that’s likely to be interesting to sales prospects, maintaining a flow of easily sharable links goes a long way towards facilitating in-house advocates. Along the way, your employees can enjoy the benefits associated with boosting their own personal brands.
And don’t forget that everybody loves a bit of healthy competition. Turn social media advocacy from a chore into a blast, with a system that gamifies employee social interactions with leaderboards and incentivizes top sharers with rewards.
“Adding competition through gamification makes it easier to measure your efforts, and also for the company to identify top influencers who might otherwise go unnoticed,” Smarp CEO Roope Heinilä recently told Forbes. “With this kind of measurement, you can identify what’s working, recognize top achievers and make sure you are constantly improving the program.”
At the same time, platforms like Smarp allow for easy cross-departmental communication to exchange ideas and solicit input on projects. This also makes it easy to generate truly useful marketing content with the help of subject matter experts.
Get the Conversations Rolling
The simple act of getting people who don’t usually interact talking about their work helps keep people in the loop about what’s happening across business units. This, in turn, helps cultivate a sense of investment in everything your company is involved in – not just their own goals.
Sometimes the best ideas for new branding initiatives can come from people who work outside the marketing bubble.
Breaking down silos and getting people to talk to each other across teams is much easier when there’s a structure to it. A Slack bot called Donut lets you automatically pair up team members who don’t ordinarily work together to share info and start to collaborate in a non-threatening way.
Use it to connect your HR and marketing folks with others in your company, and have them “make dates” to talk about ideas and how they can collaborate.
Make it Easy to Cross-Pollinate
“Cross-team collaboration is a must, so we want to avoid the silo effect of keeping people from entering other teams’ workflows,” Trello’s Michael Pryor recently wrote in an op-ed. “That’s why most of our team boards have an ‘Incoming’ list where people can drop a question or request about something they’re unfamiliar with, yet considering jumping in on.”
Marketing and software engineering teams are often used to working with project management apps like Trello. Introduce your company’s non-marketing folks to this platform, as it relates to your social media engagement and other branding initiatives.
This can offer an easy way to share, organize and flesh out ideas for new campaigns, brand standards and marketing collateral approvals.
This kind of platform is essential when working across disciplines, something that will absolutely happen when you emphasize employee branding and engagement.
Or, as Pryor puts it,
“You can’t just make everything open to the whole company and hope people just figure it out on their own; the whole point of transparency is to help get things done.”
Empower Your Whole Team to Engage
In the same manner that employee engagement is no longer just the realm of HR, social media is no longer the exclusive domain of marketing professionals hiding behind faceless corporate profiles.
By strategically combining the two in alignment with your company’s goals, you kill two important birds with one stone. Improve your organization’s levels of employee engagement as you boost your brand’s social media footprint.
Read more tips about how to engage your employees on TechCo