How to turn your employees into your biggest advocates

Enthusiasm about your company and its culture will become contagious. Promote good will and excitement about your business and its mission, and you’re off to a great start.

Companies are always on the lookout for ways to spread the word about their brand—through media hits, influencers, and the like.

We spend a lot of time on external audiences, but terrific advocates are often sitting right under your nose, within your own walls.

Employees know your company better than anyone and therefore can speak to it better than anyone. Employees’ passion about where they work and what they do is contagious—it makes others curious as to what’s so great about the place.

So, how can you turn your employees into your biggest advocates?

Step 1: Make them want to be advocates. In order for your employees to spread the word, they have to want to do so. Of course, they have to like the work they’re doing, but what else contributes to workplace happiness? Culture. Fostering a culture that’s creative, fun, and educational will keep employees loyal and far more likely to share their positive experiences.

Part of culture is hiring the right people. At Shift, we like to make sure our hires align with all our core values. This helps create a smart, supportive workplace. Once you have the right people in place, find ways to enhance the culture.

Establish a training program that helps build employee skills. Set up a mentor program that allows junior staffers to partner with senior associates who will help guide them in their careers. Have a strong internal communications program that helps tie your office—or your multiple offices—together through things like internal newsletters.

Of course, don’t forget the fun stuff. Things like in-office happy hours and summer outings are ways to reward employees for their hard work day in and day out.

Step 2: Empower employees to be advocates. After you create a great environment for your employees, it’s time to empower them to be advocates. For example, networking is a great way employees can get out and talk to others about their company. This can be beneficial for both new business and recruiting purposes.

Reimburse employees for attending networking events rather than making them pay out of pocket; this encourages them to speak on behalf of the agency when attending events. After the event, encourage them to share their experiences with the rest of the office.

Outside of networking, why not invite employees to create content based on what they’re passionate about? Is there someone in your office who loves SEO? Give them the tools and resources they need to create a three-minute video on an SEO-specific topic, or ask them to write a blog post on their favorite industry-related topic. Your associates will be more likely to share something they helped create.

Step 3: Encourage employees to share. Sometimes all it takes to get employees to talk about what you’re doing is a little nudge. Remind employees of the great work going on the company; make them hyper-aware of the content that exists and what’s being created. You can use a weekly newsletter or an employee social network like Yammer to provide updates.

Draft a number of tweets for people to easily share around internal events, new products, blog posts, etc.—that way if they’re having a busy day, they can simply copy and paste them to share with their networks.

These three steps will help transform your employees into advocates, but remember, it begins with the company itself. If your work environment is hostile and unwelcoming, you’re going to have a very hard time getting employees to champion it. Maintain a positive culture while empowering and encouraging your employees, and they’ll probably share their enthusiasm. Yes, external advocates are still important, but some of your best cheerleaders are sitting right next to you every day.

A version of this article first appeared on the Shift Communications blog.

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