Employee Advocacy - Barriers and Successes
Employers today encounter numerous barriers when attempting to incorporate an employee advocacy program. Some of these barriers include a lack of employee connection in company motivation and culture, minimal activity by company managers and other leaders on social media, weak content in social media, and employee’s fears of mistakes in social media posts. ANZ, Electronic Arts, GE and Dell are four companies that have carefully considered these barriers. After careful reflection of both employee and customer needs, they have successfully implemented employee advocacy programs.
Barriers Employers Face in Implementing Employee Advocacy
In recent years, employee advocacy has become an integral necessity for many companies. But many employees are still unsure of their role in the promotion of their company. Primary advocacy barriers that employers often face include a lack of employee connection in company motivation and culture, minimal activity by company managers and other leaders on social media, weak content in social media, and employee’s fears of mistakes in social media posts.
The lack of employee connection in company motivation and culture:
Employees need a company culture that they trust in before employee advocacy can be considered. If employees feel disconnected from the company or if they feel that the company and its leaders are not trustworthy, they are not likely to be willing to participate in an employee advocacy program. When company culture reflects a positive atmosphere where employees feel satisfied with their workplace they will be more likely to come onboard when an employee advocacy program is introduced.
Minimal social media activity by company leaders: It’s important that employees see that company management is active on social media platforms. When implementing company advocacy by posting company updates, engaging with related industries, posting and sharing company blogs and other social media activities, management is leading by example, which will encourage employees to do the same. Even a few minutes a day involved in social media activity on behalf of the company will go a long way in encouraging employees to follow suit.
Weak content and social media: A strong content strategy that isn’t completely self-involved and self-promoting is important when encouraging an employee advocacy program. When a company looks to the interests of potential clients by responding to questions via posts and articles along with the inclusion of promotional material, potential clients are more likely to convert to your particular brand or service. By implementing an employee advocacy program, the company can take this a step further in terms of success. When employees are involved with the company’s social media platforms, the employee’s followers are seven times more likely to convert to that company based strictly on the recommendation of the employee.
Employees fear social media mistakes: Many employees are hesitant to post anything involving the company they work for out of fear of repercussions. Employees may be concerned about how often it’s okay to post, or what is appropriate to post, fearing that they will say something that will upset their employers. It’s important to provide a company social media policy that sets ground rules for these concerns in place. All employees should be expected to follow these ground rules, including company management. By knowing precisely what is deemed acceptable, employees will feel more comfortable about advocating the company by sharing on social media.
Companies That Have Successfully Implemented an Employee Advocacy Program
Companies with successful employee advocacy programs accomplished this by incorporating techniques that were positive on all levels. Four companies that have successfully implemented employee advocacy programs are ANZ, Electronic Arts, GE and Dell.
ANZ: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has a large work force of 50,000 employees. ANZ approached employees already active in social media and asked them to share content through the LinkedIn Elevate Employee Advocacy Platform. The activity of these employees encouraged others who were not so sure about social media platforms to join in. ANZ also asked employees for their input on what content would best address the needs of the people that they contacted through social media platforms. ANZ then put these suggestions into action based on the individual needs of each department. ANZ also showed its employees the importance of building a professional brand and the positive impact this could have on them. By engaging in social sharing, employees soon realized the benefits that could result such as improvements in sales conversions and strengthening their professional reputations.
Electronic Arts: Electronic Arts (EA) is a popular video game publisher with 5,500 employees located in 30 offices. Realizing that an employee advocacy program was needed, EA launched EA Insiders in 2014. The program focuses on team work, digital transformation in all business aspects and putting the players first. EA employed the use of leaderboards and contests to encourage their employees to participate and they now have thousands of active users that have resulted in thousands of social shares. Employees report a better connection to their coworkers, which is reflected in their work and the success of the company.
GE: General Electric (GE) found creating a culture of social selling was a successful method in approaching employee advocacy. While many employees shied away from social sharing at first, GE encouraged them by providing them with the use of LinkedIn Elevate as their employee advocacy platform. The formal platform encouraged the more reticent employees by giving them access to a tool that had been approved for use as a social sharing method in regard to the company. Employees now share four times more than they did before the implementation of LinkedIn Elevate, which has increased views of the company page to twice as much as before the platform was put in place.
Dell: Dell has incorporated social media as a marketing strategy for a number of years. Dell places trust in their employees, allowing them to share not only information provided for them by the Dell team, but their own content as well. Only 20% of the information shared by employees is about Dell directly. The Other 80% is helpful information that is of interest to Dell employees as well as Dell customers. By empowering its employees in such a way, tens of thousands of views have been directed back to Dell’s home page with shared content reaching hundreds of thousands of potential customers due to the employee advocacy program.
While barriers exist that can prevent employers from incorporating employee advocacy programs; companies like ANZ, Electronic Arts, GE and Dell have overcome these obstacles. By addressing issues such as a lack of employee connection in company motivation and culture, minimal activity by company managers and other leaders on social media, weak content in social media, and employee’s fears of mistakes in social media posts, these employers have managed to incorporate successful employee advocacy platforms that are beneficial for all involved.