Employee Engagement

How to start an employee spotlight program

An employee spotlight is a powerful employer branding tool and a way to boost employee engagement. Here’s everything you need to know about employee spotlights.

Nikola Sekulic

October 3, 2022

In the modern, overly competitive business world where companies are struggling to keep the best of the best at their side, leaders are finding themselves at a crossroads. While there are many ways you can try to make your employees happier and more loyal to your brand, few can develop the deep, long-lasting connection necessary for people to feel inspired to stay.

That’s why taco Tuesdays and casual Fridays belong in the past; we now live in an age when employers must make an effort. So, what can you do?

One way to increase employee satisfaction in the workplace is to start an employee spotlight program. This program not only benefits your business through talent retention, but it also boosts engagement, improves your hiring process, and helps you build a powerful employer brand.

With all of that in mind, let’s dive in.

What is an employee spotlight?

An employee spotlight is a unique type of content companies use to talk about their best employees and highlight their achievements, history with the business, personal and professional traits, strengths, and more. While employee spotlights can be used to achieve numerous internal and external goals about your strategic roadmap, it’s important to remember that spotlights work best for building a thriving employee collective, fostering internal relationships, and achieving other internal objectives.

Why? Employee spotlights are the perfect opportunity to disseminate quality, engaging content across your teams and departments and kick-start new programs, events, and traditions in your business.

For example, an employee spotlight can be a great opportunity to create more engaging mentorships in your organization, give others something to aspire to, and create a leadership culture in every team. It also fosters a sense of unity and mutual support between the employees.

Now that you know what it is, here’s how you can start organizing your employee spotlights.

How to organize an employee spotlight

Like any other type of content or employee engagement ideas, you implement in your company, launching successful employee spotlights demands planning and preparations. You should introduce specific steps and best practices into the process to maximize the potential of each spotlight and make it measurable over the long term.

This will also allow you to assess and optimize your approach down the line. 

To create a powerful employee spotlight, make sure to:

  • Determine the right format. Employee spotlights can come in many content formats; creating several types to fit different audiences and social platforms is important. For internal promotion, try a photo and concise but engaging copy.
  • Choose and prioritize candidates for the spotlight. Think vertically and horizontally, and list high-performing, up-and-coming, and veteran employees as your top candidates. Be sure to choose people from different departments.
  • Prepare a detailed questionnaire. This is an opportunity to highlight the employee’s personality, uniqueness, and relationship with the brand. Make sure your questions are varied and relevant.
  • Create a promotional strategy. Ideally, you will create a promotional plan for all of your relevant marketing channels. Think social media posts, a dedicated blog post on your website, email marketing, and other communication channels.
  • Track the performance and generate reports. Be sure to ask your employees what they thought about the spotlight, and then plug in the KPIs from your blog, social media, and other promotional channels.

What should be included in an employee spotlight?

When creating an employee spotlight, it can be difficult to figure out what information to include. Business leaders often make the mistake of talking about the things that add no value to the content or can even be detrimental to the employee and the rest of the collective.

It is therefore crucial to be careful when choosing which information to include in your employee spotlights. For example, you might have some relevant payroll statistics to share with your employees or want to emphasize how much the employee has progressed in terms of compensation, but that’s not something you necessarily want to put in your spotlight. 

It is important to have pay transparency in your company, yes, but it is not necessary to highlight that aspect of the employee’s success.

Some qualities to highlight in your spotlight include:

  • How the employee likes their work environment,
  • How they like working with their colleagues,
  • Their achievements in a specific timeframe,
  • Their accomplishments in a given project,
  • Their values and how they resonate with your brand values,
  • Their unique traits as a person, and their professional aspirations.

Focusing on boosting your employer brand

One of the key benefits outside of improved employee engagement is that employee spotlights allow you to build a more relevant, humanized employer brand. What you learn from these compelling stories about your amazing employees can be used to build better brand awareness, trust, and authority among the top job-seekers in your industry.

With the right employer branding solutions that encompass proper brand-building, marketing, and communication, as well as user-generated content and employee spotlights, you can paint a positive picture of your company and inspire the best of the best to apply for your open roles. More importantly, however, a powerful employer brand will inspire your veteran employees to stay.

Employee retention goes far beyond monetary compensation, even though money is a big part of the equation. The top talent in the industry not only expects to receive top-tier compensation, but they also seek positive, engaging, and inspiring work environments.

This is something to emphasize in your employee spotlights so that others can see just how amazing it is to work with you.

Improving and streamlining the recruitment process

Speaking of people who want to work for you, keep in mind that employee spotlights represent a great opportunity to improve and streamline your recruitment process by allowing you to attract top talent and help them onboard faster. You can do this with recruitment-specific employee spotlights, which have a content focus directed toward attracting candidates and educating new hires.

Candidates and new hires want and need to see successful, happy employees who are thriving under your brand. When thinking about how to hire a customer success manager who will lead a customer success team, for example, you need to show that candidate relevant, department-specific employee highlights so that they can gain an understanding of the collective they’re joining, their colleagues, values, and more.

This goes for all departments and positions in your company. Likewise, when onboarding new hires, you can showcase relevant employee spotlights to motivate new team members, provide meaningful insights about their colleagues and the work, and help them settle in faster.

Following up with virtual get-togethers

You want to follow up with engaging virtual events whenever you publish an employee spotlight. This is your opportunity to capitalize on the buzz that the spotlight has initially created, and engage your employees in meaningful conversations and interactions.

This can be especially beneficial when trying to come up with remote employee engagement ideas that go beyond simple virtual group coffee breaks and similar, because spotlights provide meaningful and relevant topics to talk about. This doesn’t mean the spotlight employee is the main talking point; rather, it means that you should use the spotlight to raise important questions, tackle relevant problems in the workplace, and let others pick their brain for ideas, inspiration, and concrete problem-solving. 

This is also a great opportunity to see how other team members react to the spotlight itself. Let people share their impressions about the content, and be sure to welcome all feedback so you can improve each new employee spotlight in the future.

You can organize these follow-up get-togethers with your star employee to outline key talking points that will bring value to the rest of the collective. Remember, it’s not just about praising the individual for their amazing work. It’s about leveraging their star status to empower and inspire others in your organization. 

Over to you

There are many benefits to kick-starting an employee spotlight program, one of which is increased employee engagement. When employees are more engaged, they are not only happier and more productive, but also are more loyal to the brand and have an easier time staying with the company long term.

In a time when job-hopping has become extremely popular, this type of program can be a lifesaver for many businesses in a competitive market. Employee spotlights bring many perks that will help you develop your competitive advantage and take your company forward as a whole.

Start implementing these best practices and tips as soon as possible to build an engaged employee collective and a powerful employer brand in 2022 and beyond.

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