Engaged employees want to talk about your brand, and the more employees act as advocates, the more connected and engaged they feel.
Employee advocates need to be engaged to want to speak on behalf of their company. However, an employee advocacy program can actually spark engagement in those who weren't actively engaged before, while strengthening that connection for those who were already engaged. But why is that? How can engagement be a requirement for advocacy, while advocacy can then cycle back and increase engagement?
It All Comes Down to Trust
Both engagement and employee advocacy come back to the same fundamental: trust. According to Gallup, 96 percent of engaged employees trust the people who run their companies, compared to only 46 percent of actively disengaged employees.
To have engaged employees or brand advocates, those employees need to have trust in the organization and its leaders. Employees need to connect with the company's mission and values as a basic level of engagement, and they certainly won't want to promote the company if they don't believe in it. An employee advocacy program can deepen that existing trust, which increases engagement and in turn, spurs on more advocacy.
Why Employee Engagement Matters
The benefits of employee engagement for organizations are well documented. Gallup research shows that organizations in the top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share, and have 90 percent better growth trend than their competition. And according to the Corporate Leadership Council, highly engaged organizations also can reduce turnover by 87 percent and improve performance by 20 percent. Countless studies have shown that employee engagement affects multiple crucial areas of a company, including retention, productivity, earnings, and the bottom line.
How an Employee Advocacy Program Can Increase Employee Engagement
What isn't as well documented as the importance and benefits of employee engagement is how an employee advocacy program can help bring about those results. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, leveraging employee ambassadors is a great way to build trust between employees and the organization. Having an advocacy program gives employees the authority and company support to talk about the brand on social, which in turn makes employees feel like they are vital to the company and creates trust and respect between the two. And having that trust between the organization and its employees is key to employee engagement.
If employees are engaged, they're likely already talking about your brand, either with in-person connections or on social. And those who aren't already vocal on social may just be unsure of whether or not it's OK for them to share or lack social media experience. You can make it easier and show them you support and appreciate their efforts by creating an employee advocacy program. Instead of just permitting them to talk about your brand on social, you should encourage them to do so and give them the guidelines, training, and tools they need to do so.
The relationship between employee engagement and employee advocacy is quite simple: engaged employees want to talk about your brand, and the more employees act as advocates, the more connected and engaged they feel.
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Russ Fradin is the co-founder of Dynamic Signal and a digital media industry veteran with more than 15 years' experience in the online marketing world. Russ co-founded and was CEO of Adify (acquired by Cox for $300 million in May 2008) and co-founded SocialShield. He was also SVP of BD at Wine.com, EVP of Corporate Development at comScore (NASDAQ:SCOR) and was among the first employees at Flycast (acquired by CMGi for $2.3 billion in January 2000). Russ is also an active angel investor in the digital world and is on a number of boards. Russ holds a BS in Economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
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