Why and how enterprise communications starts with employee advocacy

Engaging millennials and their more established colleagues isn’t simply a tactic for stemming staff turnover. It’s also a catalyst for greater collaboration and brand ambassadorship.

What does the internal communications landscape look like at your organization?

You’ve probably spent substantial time and resources hiring and training the right people. They know what they’re doing, but do they know why they’re doing it? Are they invested in company initiatives? Do they engage in social media sharing to promote the brand?

There’s been a flood of millennials in the workforce in recent years. Are you reaching (and keeping) them?

In this digital, mobile world, effective employee communication in the enterprise takes more than a legacy system; it takes a winning employee experience, starting with advocacy.

Here’s what you should know:

What is employee advocacy?

Many companies view employee advocacy as a vehicle through which to promote social media sharing, but let’s take the blinders off for a moment.

Yes, the content your organization produces does have to be shared for it to add value, and your employees are a great conduit for that—but that’s not the whole picture.

A recent Altimeter Group report says there’s more to employee advocacy: There should also be a drive to increase brand understanding, to educate and engage employees about the company mission, and to humanize the brand.

The employee advocacy experts at PostBeyond agree, citing the problem today isn’t a lack of sharing but a trend toward disparate communications—i.e., a jumble of systems that make it unclear to employees where to get what they need and, at times, whether they’re even allowed to share it on their social media networks.

Look at Figure 1 below, showing all the places today’s employees can access information.

Figure 1. Source: PostBeyond

That’s the problem, so what’s the answer? The solution is cohesive communication through employee advocacy-and it all starts with employee engagement.

Employee engagement: Why it matters and how to do it

Employee engagement is the cornerstone to effective communication within an enterprise. Why? For starters, engaged employees stay longer and take more initiative than their non-engaged counterparts. A recent Gallup report indicates that 71 percent of millennials are not engaged or actively disengaged in the workplace.

In addition, only half of millennials plan to be with their company in a year’s time. For a generation of employees expected to make up as much as 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, this level of employee dissatisfaction translates into missed opportunities and costly turnover.

How do you do it?

First, think of how your employees—especially your millennial employees—are used to consuming information. They prefer content that’s mobile friendly, accessible anytime and anywhere, and in easily digestible (and highly sharable) formats such as video and visuals.

You can engage them by delivering the same experience they expect outside work when it comes to your internal communications. (See Figure 2.)

The result will be engaged employees more apt to participate willingly in social sharing, boosting not only employee satisfaction but brand awareness—a win/win.

Figure 2. Source: PostBeyond

What to look for in an employee advocacy solution

Make sure to consider the evolving communication needs of today’s workforce. Is the solution mobile-friendly? Can it act as an updated user interface to any legacy systems you currently have in place? What about cohesion—is content in one spot, and are the sharing rules easy to understand?

PostBeyond suggests that the proper solution should approach employee communication problems holistically, intending to improve not just the potential for social media sharing but also the entire employee experience. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Source: PostBeyond

What’s next?

Enterprise organizations must do better when it comes to employee advocacy.

Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents to a recent Altimeter study cited employee advocacy as a top objective. Collectively, we know that the corporate communications landscape is changing, thanks in large part to a highly digital, highly mobile millennial workforce.

If you want to accentuate sharing content and its importance in building your brand, you have to get on their level. Make sharing convenient, measurable and worth it. This isn’t just a millennial thing; employee advocacy is vital to doing business in today’s tech-oriented marketplace.

Shelly Kramer is CEO at V3B. A version of this article originally appeared on The Marketing Scope.

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