6 Missteps to Avoid While Launching an Employee Advocacy Program
June 26, 2019 by Nisha Raghavan, Talent Attraction and Employer Branding Specialist, American Heart Association
Employee Advocacy has been a core strategy to amplify employer brand awareness internally among employees and externally to the job seekers. Employers know that it is crucial to managing the employer brand reputation to attract the right talent and current employees are at the heart of this effort!
Your employees are your number one ambassadors and a great resource to attract potential talent to your organization. Who else can be better storytellers than your employees to represent your organization, share about your work culture, encourage their network to think of an opportunity to work at your organization and help attract potential candidates! Your employees are your trusted partners who can help you make a connection to your next candidate, who will have a better probability to succeed in your organization than someone who doesn’t have a connection. And keep in mind your employees collectively will have more followers than the number of followers you have on your company pages on social.
And the job seekers value comments and reviews from current employees over any other content while they research more about the opportunity to work with an employer. So empowering your employees to use social media can be a great advantage for employers to attract great talent.
Successful employers like Dell, Cisco, Adobe to name a few have a well established Employee Advocacy program in place to empower their employees to become social media ambassadors and help their brand speak a more authentic voice.
Some of you might have an employee advocacy program in place, some of you might be looking to create one. If you are strategizing on creating and/or maintaining an Employee Advocacy program, then avoiding the below missteps can help you become successful and can go a long way!
1. Not Having an Executive Sponsor
Employees trust their leadership and always consider them as a role model to learn from. If your employees know that your leadership team is advocating on a particular initiative it will go a long way than HR trying to push out some program.
Identify your executive sponsor, train them on how to set an example by being social. When employees see their leader is tweeting or sharing content on social using your company hashtag and encouraging other employees who are doing the same then you will get more involvement and participation from your employees overall.
2. Not Having a Strategy
Employee advocacy is more than having your employees tweet using your employer branding hashtag. Having a clearly defined goal and strategy on what you are trying to accomplish is important for launching your employee advocacy program. For example, What is the purpose of the program? Is it for increasing your employer brand reputation? Is it to attract more talent and increase the quality of the applicant pool? Or Is it to increase your social media reach?
Have a defined goal and put together a plan to make it happen. Understand what type of content will be helpful for you to achieve your goal. Then empower your employee ambassadors to help partner in promoting some of the content. Reach out to a few targeted employees who can help share their perspectives so that you will have some employee generated content that is much more authentic.
3. Asking All Employees to Be Social
Not everyone wants to be on social. It is a personal choice and you will see some has a preference not to be in front of your camera or not wanting to show up their picture on your social media platforms. So asking for all employees to be social might not be a good plan.
Start slow. Look for the employees who embrace and enjoy being on social media. They are your social media ambassadors. Do a search on social media using your company name or hashtag that you have. You will start to see some employees who are already promoting your workplace. Start connecting with them first. It is a good idea to connect with your functional leaders to know who they would recommend to be a best fit for your social ambassador program.
4. Trying to Launch the Program in the Middle of a Major Change
Trying to launch and promote employee advocacy program in the middle of a major change or chaos (like letting go of some employees as part of Merger or Acquisition) can negatively impact your reputation.
Try to launch your employee advocacy program when the change is accepted, employees are well communicated of the change and when they are likely to be positive advocates. Use your employee engagement surveys to know your employees' perception of your workplace and address any issues proactively before launching your employee advocacy program.
5. Not Providing Proper Training
Common sense is not common anymore! You heard of this term. While you trust your employees to portrait your company culture, chances are there might be a few employees who unknowingly post something that tends to be confidential or not a pure representation of your organization's culture. For example, when your organization's mission is about helping save lives and if one of your employees posting a picture of killing a wild animal when he went for trekking that can impact negatively and doesn’t resonate with your mission.=
Identifying your social media rockstars and train them with examples of what to post and what not to post. Educate them with your social media guidelines or rule of thumb that way they can use it when they are in doubt.
6. Thinking It Is All About Incentives
Incentives are a less compelling motivator and focusing more on incentives might not help you in the long run. Instead of contributing more towards your goal of improving social visibility or expanding your social network, your employees will be focusing more on getting their gift cards as part of incentives. Incentives can add fun to the program that shouldn’t be the primary reason why employees should involve in your employee advocacy program.
Let your employees be storytellers, empower them to use social media to share what they like about working with you. Educate your employees on how they are helping the organization achieve the goal and how employees are able to contribute towards building the reputation of the organization. Train your employees on utilizing social tools and provide insights on personal branding. This way you will have more involvement from your employees in the right way which is more sustainable and scalable.
Employee advocacy can go a long way when it is nurtured and done right. What are some missteps you learned along the way while launching your employee advocacy program?
For more recruiting and interview insights, join us in Philadelphia this August 6-8, 2019, at #SRSC where talent acquisition leaders connect to leverage emerging recruiting practices.
Nisha Raghavan is the Talent Attraction and Employer Branding Specialist at the American Heart Association. Prior to this, she worked in the telecommunications and media industry to help attract, engage and retain talent. She writes about her Global HR experiences at her blog Your HR Buddy!! Connect with her on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @TheHrbuddy