If Employee Advocacy within an organization fails, wherein lies the fault? You may say it lies in an Employee Advocacy program that pushes employees to share content without value. Or maybe the content they share is not what they want to be recognized for. The most likely of reasons, though, are rooted within the company culture and the program’s implementation.
Employee Advocacy is a fast road to nowhere without these clear road signs: training, a solid company culture and the employees’ willingness to share knowledge. Without a working culture that people are happy with and ways to empower people to share their thoughts with others, any engagement or advocacy program is doomed to fail.
Engage through content that matters
Sharing should always take place with the employee’s best interest in mind. If employees wish to advocate for their company, Employee Advocacy works so that both parties benefit from it.
In Toinen Mielipide (18 March 2016), Tom Laine critiqued Employee Advocacy platforms for enabling generic content, developed mostly by the employers. This eats away at the credibility of the message, according to Laine.
Content shared through these platforms can be customized according to each employee, and this should be encouraged. Employees can also suggest content for sharing that they are interested in, further reinforcing their role in shaping the advocacy program. Not everyone is a social media wizard, but through little steps they can improve and reap the benefits.
Employee Advocacy works both ways: sharing will happily take place, if employees feel they have something to gain from it. The most prestigious rewards for employees have been noted to be professional recognition. In fact, material rewards come second to networking, professional image and opinions. Rewards are also secondary to the quality of shared content and easy participation in the program.
Train and support
That is not to say that the employer should not impose any rules with regards to content - advocacy must take place with a solid brand behind it and proper training to support it. As Employee Advocacy Coach Hanna Takala from Zento instructs: you must first set goals for the advocacy program, make sure that your employees are willing to do it and allocate the necessary roles.
You must make sure that employees are aware of the benefits for them. Takala reminds that helping them to define their professional brands is also beneficial for the brand they are representing. Remember to assist them in customer encounters as well.
The process continues
Honing the Employee Advocacy program is a continuous process, and problems may occur from time to time. Remember to be open about communicating matters internally and increase support, if needed.
Our hope would be for everyone to be able to share the content that is engaging for them in their professional life. The first step is smaller than that, though. The relationship between employees and social media has evolved drastically, but there is plenty of work to be done still.
Smarp has had to fight hard to be able to maintain our values and work in the best interest of the individual employee always as the top priority. Of this we are particularly proud and we hope that the markets also understand what can be accomplished through Employee Advocacy, when implemented right.