The most frequently asked question about employee advocacy tends to be "what's in it for me"? The most obvious benefit is a stronger personal brand. As you have a carefully curated feed of professional content within reach, it is easier to share and position yourself as a thought leader. Naturally, there are other advantages such as network growth — and my personal favorite, recruiting new colleagues. And then, of course, there are perks and rewards.
Give employee advocates rewards they deserve
To my knowledge, many organizations choose to reward their employee advocacy stars with things like movie tickets and gift certificates. While I’m sure most of the employees find these useful, there is an opportunity to do even better. How about showering employees with perks that build upon the existing benefits of your program?
Let me give you a few examples:
- One-on-one brand coaching session with a professional. Many people study personal branding on their own or learn it by doing. Although, anyone would probably benefit from extra guidance. A personalized and private skill smoothing session might be just what is needed to make their professional brand reach new heights.
- Face time with an industry influencer. Especially Millennials, who are at the beginning of their career, might jump at the chance to meet with a serious influencer. A possibility to network, to pick a brain and to get useful tips on how to become an influencer — at least I would share content to win that!
- A VIP ticket to an industry event. One of the benefits of personal branding is the possibility to grow your networks, and participating events supports that. So offering the winner a chance to participate an event as a VIP guest with extra content sessions, roundtable discussions, etc. could help the employee to establish quality contacts. If there isn't anything Very Important organized, you can do it yourself: combine face time with an industry influencer to an ordinary event ticket.
Why should you consider this kind of rewards?
Giving something like this to your excelling employee advocates is bound to give something back to you. Better professional brands mean wider reach to your company’s brand messages and perhaps even new clients. A single date with an industry influencer could give your future messages a sterling boost, not to mention all the tips and tricks your winning employees can share with their colleagues. In addition, attending the industry events can boost your business and gain new audiences & knowledge for both of you.
Naturally, you should choose perks that your employees find rewarding and relate to your field of work. To my opinion, most of us would benefit from personal brand training, but career development might not be the thing that makes everyone tick.
- Entertainment to build team spirit. As you probably know, good employee advocacy breeds from job satisfaction. Advocacy is way easier if you like what you and your employer are doing. Because of that I do also recommend more entertaining perks, but instead of movie tickets, build the team spirit. So don’t put employees against each another, but combine their scores and let the team win an evening out.
- Showcase the employee advocate. Active social sharing might not be a reason to showcase an employee on your public website or customer magazine, but sharing isn’t everything there is to employee advocacy. When your employee advocates begin to excel in customer care, parade them out proudly. Recognize all of their employee advocacy efforts — them being sharing, listening, social selling, customer service or internal communication efforts — in a way that suits to your employees and business. Make it personal and frequent!
It is nice to have things to look forward. Remember though, this should feel like an award, not a work assignment. No to-do lists for the event or pre-set talking points at the influencer dinner date. It is about your employee, even though your business is also getting something out of it.
This post is written by Hanna Takala, Zento
Hanna coaches Finnish organizations and their employee advocates to communicate better in social media. She is a trained visual designer and communications professional. Hanna is a regular guest blogger at smarpshare.com.