Let’s begin with answering the question: “what is an advocate in the workplace?” Simply put, an advocate is someone whose opinion is trusted by many. In the workplace, this is an honest, trustworthy “promotor” of the work environment and experience in general. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Yes! It’s safe to say that employee advocacy is one of the most important considerations to make if you want a positive organizational culture.
Employees are the heart of a company – and once you recognize that and work toward proving that to them every day, you’re on your way to success.
Advocate for your employees, and they’ll do the same for you!
It should be a company’s goal to create a socially engaging workplace for employees. According to a survey by SHRM, 89% of HR leaders admit that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins positively impact their organizations. It’s up to leaders to create a space where peers can learn from each other, communicate, and grow. This improves engagement levels across the company.
Engaged employees are your loyalists - they’re the ones who will stick with you during challenging times and sing your praises both on- and offline. That being said, advocating for your employees will not only benefit your internal work environment – but will increase long-term profitability. A study by Deloitte showed that customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate. Additionally, they found that 1 in 3 customers come to a brand because of a referral.
Make sure your employees have a reason to speak highly of you!
There are many ways you can support your team and employees that will motivate them to become advocates without even thinking twice about it! Let’s dive into some ideas to get you started.
3 Ways to Advocate for your Employees
We’ve already determined the importance of employee advocacy, so how do you advocate for your employees to ensure they do the same for you?
1. Lead from the heart of your inner child
Many of us have heard the saying, “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Yes, it’s an age-old saying that rings true in all areas of life - not just in the sandbox with others at four years old!
Take a minute to think about someone who inspires you. What leadership qualities did they have that you want to emulate? Think of this person, and work toward cultivating your leadership style to be more like them.
To develop this idea further, consider starting a mentorship program in your company. Employees can develop leadership skills with a mentor. By pairing colleagues together, you give them the chance to learn from each other, socialize, and build relationships with those they work with. These connections increase their sense of belonging and produce more positive feelings toward their company.
Bottom line: By promoting connection and collaboration, you ensure happier employees who are willing to promote your company for years to come.
2. Provide opportunities for growth
There are so many benefits to lifelong learning that people sometimes overlook. According to a Neurology report, learning activities can delay the symptoms of Alzheimers. Not only that but learning new skills as you get older helps improve your memory! We should never underestimate the power of learning new skills.
- Consider offering quarterly training sessions for your team that could help them grow and learn more about specific areas in their field. It’s important to open conversation with employees - get to know them and see where their interests lie.
- Sign your team up for a learning website that offers courses and training for certifications. An example would be signing up each new employee with a Linkedin Premium membership - this gives them access to a variety of courses to support their lifelong learning and skill development!
Also, if your company does not yet have a workplace wellness program, you should look into different variations. Some include stipends or reimbursement for gym memberships, therapist visits, or other services that contribute to employees’ health.
A great example of a good starting point would be to use an app like Stebby (available in the EU) - it allows companies to give employees a monthly allowance to use at participating locations in their area. Spas, gyms, and more - employees choose where they want to allocate their money and feel the benefits each month. Talk about perks!
Employees will rave about these offerings on websites like Indeed and Glassdoor when reviewing their experience at your workplace. Many companies and future employees look to these sites when considering working with you! CNBC reported on a study of “1,096 workers who left an online review of a former employer” and found that 1 in 3 people have turned down a job offer because of a company’s bad online reviews.
It’s critical that your reviews are four stars and above!
Bottom line: Give employees opportunities to learn and grow. Pair those opportunities with incentives to build a healthy work/life balance, and your employees will rave about the perks of their job.
3. Start an employee advocacy program
An employee advocacy program begins with setting goals for your brand image and determining the key metrics you’ll use to measure the success of those goals over time.
Whatever goals you set, you need to schedule a team meeting to discuss ways for your employees to support you in this.
For example: Is your goal to increase the company’s social media presence? If so, you could discuss how often you will post from the company page and whether employees are allowed to promote the brand on their personal pages.
Hint: it would be extremely beneficial for them to post on their own page! Remember, everyone loves referrals from someone they trust! With that in mind, be sure to set some guidelines for them to follow in order to stay within the brand image.
What do you hope to accomplish with this program? Some key metrics for the goal increase companies social media presence could be:
- Increase social media followers in September from 50 per month to 100.
- Get 40 post shares this month from LinkedIn and Twitter
- Reach out to 5 brands regarding collaboration and partnership opportunities
By including your employees in this conversation, you increase their motivation to accomplish the goals as a team!
Bottom line: The crucial aspect of an employee advocacy program is involving employees in each step of the process and giving them a safe, encouraging place to share ideas and give feedback!
Recognize The Value Of Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy starts with management and great leaders. To make sure your company is well represented, you first need to look within! Start with these three tips and begin thinking about the importance of employee advocacy in the workplace.