The Vital Role of Employee Advocacy In Recovering From a Crisis

It’s safe to say that right now, people are losing faith in employers, and the last few months have left many contemplating the future of their work. LinkedIn’s latest Confidence Index found that one-third of UK workers are now actively job seeking, with many professionals concerned about the jobs market and their future.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that employers across a range of industries right now are trying to showcase their employer brand and position themselves as the best place to work, how else will they entice top talent away from their competition? Even if companies are not in a position to actively recruit new workers, employers are learning that promoting and leveraging their employer brand right now could be the secret to attracting top candidates long term. Promoting your employer brand in quieter times is a proactive and intelligent approach to recruiting. It’s almost as though businesses can plant a seed in the candidate’s mind, positioning their company as somewhere that talented people would like to work when a suitable vacancy becomes available. If every employer is taking this approach, then how can candidates know which business really is the place for them? Who is all talk and who has a company culture that can live up to expectations?

With many businesses still working remotely, it’s even harder to portray your employer brand and company culture to candidates. Gone are the days when we could invite people to the office or post social media videos showing what goes on behind the scenes. Instead, employers are having to be more creative when it comes to promoting their employer brand and finding ways to unite employees.

This is where employee advocacy comes in. It’s one thing to endorse your employer brand and sing about what a great place you are to work, but it’s another to prove it. No matter what size your business, whether you’re a startup or global corporation, employee advocacy can boost your employer brand and recruitment efforts hugely. Getting your employees on side to promote your employer brand and validate your claims could be the secret to attracting top talent after the pandemic.

A brand advocate is anyone who believes strongly in your business and what you are trying to achieve, they’ll happily promote it, review it and speak about it. If you genuinely are a great employer, then your employees should be happy to act as advocates for you. They’ll believe in your mission, values and honestly, think you’re a great place to work, so why wouldn’t they want to shout about it? Plus, they know your business better than anyone, so who could be better to promote it?

Get social

The easiest way to encourage employee advocacy is to be present on social media and encourage your employees to do the same. 59% of job seekers use social media to research companies they’re interested in working for. Therefore, you need to ensure that your business is sharing content which encapsulates who you are as an employer and paints an accurate picture of what you’re like to work for. To stand out on crowded newsfeeds, get creative with your content. Try to create content which is unique to your brand and don’t just imitate your competition or your posts will get lost in the noise. It helps if your employees can share your posts with their network as part of your brand advocacy as it means a broader audience will see your content. LinkedIn even has a feature to notify your employees if a post goes live so that they can engage with and share it.

It would help if you also encouraged employees to share their own, work-related content on social media, especially LinkedIn, as this is precisely what the platform is designed for. Content shared by employees gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels as it feels more authentic, sincere and puts faces to the business. You could consider creating a hashtag that your employees and company posts will use to create a consistent feel to all posts and make them easy to find if candidates are searching for you on social media.

Encourage reviews

After the COVID-19 pandemic, employee reviews are expected to have more power than ever before. People want to know a first-hand experience of working at a business before they consider applying or accepting a job offer, as many employees across the globe have been burned in the not so distant past. Like with any reviews, the sad reality is, many ex-employees only leave them when they have something negative to say, which could damage your employer brand severely. Instead, it’s up to you as an employer to encourage your team to leave honest, authentic but hopefully positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor or your Facebook careers page. 83% of job seekers are likely to research company reviews and ratings when deciding on where to apply for a job, so having some accurate, recent and positive reviews will enhance your employer brand and help your candidate attraction efforts massively.

Celebrate those who celebrate you

As with any element of your business, there will be some employees who are more enthusiastic and willing to act as advocates than others. It may not necessarily mean that they like your workplace more than their peers, but just that they feel more comfortable talking about it. Some people go to work, do their job and come home without contemplating what impact their voice could have on the company. Others actively engage with your content and shout about their workplace. Be sure to take the time to thank these individuals and recognise the contribution their advocacy is making. Some employers may even choose to reward employees for sharing content on social media or leaving a review. Other businesses may be willing to offer an incentive for referring candidates. By celebrating those individuals that celebrate your workplace, you’ll encourage the idea of sharing social media posts, leaving reviews and praising your employer.

Keep employees in the loop

If you aim to have happy employees that are willing to advocate for you, then one of the critical things to remember is that you should inform them of the significant goings-on in your business. Keeping your employees in the loop with the essential changes and aspects of your business is better for employee experience. It makes them feel more involved and committed to the company as a whole which in turn makes them want to advocate for you. It’s no use asking employees to promote and vouch for you if they don’t feel like a valued part of the team and if the COVID19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that keeping employees in the dark will damage your employer brand. Right now, employers need to prioritise building trust; once this trust comes, so will the willingness to advocate for you.

Set boundaries

One big mistake employers make when it comes to promoting employee advocacy is saying that anything goes. As long as they’re talking about your business, that’s what matters right? Wrong! As all leaders know, some things shouldn’t be shared or should at least be announced correctly through the appropriate channels. It’s important to set guidelines and boundaries for what your employees can say. However, this doesn’t mean they all have to leave you glowing reviews and can’t say anything negative. Instead, it’s about ensuring that confidential information or big business news is handled in the correct way. Being an ambassador for your company doesn’t give them the right to make announcements on your behalf.

Don’t force it

As much as we’d like every single employee to review your business and promote your workplace to their network, you have to understand that in some cases, it just won’t happen. You can’t force your employees to act as ambassadors for your brand; if you do, it will no doubt look false and risk doing more harm than good to your employer brand. To build an accurate picture of you as an employer, your employees should advocate for you because they want to, not because they feel pressured. Encourage them to spread the word, but make sure they know it’s voluntary, and they shouldn’t feel guilty for not joining in.

In the wake of a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates will no longer take your word for it when it comes to company culture and your reputation as an employer. Your employees’ input in promoting your employer brand could be the difference between you attracting top talent and losing out to your competition.

If you’d like help building your employer brand and promoting it on social media, or require more information about introducing employee advocacy within your business, get in touch to start a conversation with our experts.