How to put employee stories at the center of your employer brand

At Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference, comms pros weighed in on how they highlight their employee experiences.

When trying to highlight the best parts of your company, the best way to tell your organization’s story is to focus on the employees who live your culture every day. At Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference, we were lucky enough to hear from three comms pros on how they find the best employee stories within their companies.

Who should you highlight?

When you’re thinking about who to showcase when you’re telling the story of your employee experience, it’s important to think about how your company values are reflected through your workers. Consider your employees as external voices of your organization’s values and missions.

“We’re a values-driven company,” said Amanda Coffee, director, global corporate communications at PayPal. “When we want to discuss and bring those values to life, we try to leverage our employees as spokespeople. We curate our employee case studies by looking at our values and reviewing what powerful employee stories we have on hand that map to those values and undertake a matchmaking process based on media trends.”

Your most enthusiastic employees are also likely to paint a vibrant picture of your company.

“It’s really important to have those employee testimonials,” said Michael Diaz, omnichannel content lead at Merck Animal Health. “Studies have shown employee testimonials have a three-fold greater impact than those from outsiders. What we’re looking for are people that are passionate about the company and espouse our core values.”

Storytelling about culture

One of the best things to highlight when you’re telling a company story is a vibrant organizational culture. When you’ve got employees who can espouse their own stories within a culture that supports them, you’re likely going to get others to follow suit.

“We’ve given people many platforms to express themselves in the organization, and from a culture perspective,” said Joey Levi, vice president of pre-sales at LumApps. “If you allow people to express themselves internally, it inspires others to do the same thing.”

While it’s great to have employees who can preach about your positive culture, your organization must already have a positive culture that is not aspirational or only positive in branding materials.

“A lot of companies want to seem like a great place to work — more of them need to actually be great places to work,” Diaz said. “The employee experience is important, but it has to be grounded in truth based on who people actually are and how they can thrive in an organization.”

How to find the right platform for your employee story

Even if you’ve got a great story to tell about the pros in your organization, it’s not always easy to find the right platform to send it out to the world. Oftentimes, it’s good to have a mix of both internal and external channels to really help a story hit home.

“We want a holistic approach,” Coffee said. “We push ourselves on the media side to get creative and think beyond just the typical outlets”

Levi also touched on the importance of internal channels, stating that when one employee sees one of their coworkers sharing their experiences with the company and the wider world, they might feel empowered to do the same.

Crowdsourcing and engagement

Centering employee stories is most effective when communicators have the infrastructure and tools that allow and empower employees to have their voices heard. It’s important to focus on sharing your employee experiences both internally and externally for maximum impact.

“It’s important to build programs where people can go to have conversations that they’re looking to engage in internally,” Levi said.” You can do something basic like giving kudos to someone in your organization, and that can help build a better culture as well. Once they’re engaged and empowered, they’ll participate more.”

Tips and tricks

Before the panel concluded, our experts shared a few tidbits of knowledge on how they best tell their employee stories in their organizations.

“The secret to employee engagement is helping your employees become who they seek to become,” said Diaz.  “You’ve got to seek out those who really want to have their story heard.”

“It’s about building the muscle memory of going out and finding personal stories,” added Levi. “If you have programs in place that encourage sharing, you’ll have people raise their hands and want to participate.”

“When one employee shares their story, others see it and want to do the same,” Coffee concluded.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night. 

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