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Why employees are your best brand advocates

Andrea Huckett, head of career management at Saint-Gobain UK, Ireland & South Africa, explains why the construction firm’s employee advocacy is at the centre of its current employer brand campaign, aimed at recruitment and developing employees’ pride in belonging

In the UK, nearly three quarters (72%) of internet users now have a social media profile, with 81% of these people using social media at least once a day.

‘Y Generation’ is leading this trend, using on average four social networks a day. According to HR Magazine, the social media generation also rated ‘being totally fulfilled and happy’ in the workplace as the most important factor when looking for employment.

Not only can employees now share their views on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, sites like Glassdoor are also growing in popularity, giving people the chance to review their workplace.

If employees feel valued and well treated, they will share their experiences online. This is why employees can be the best advocates a brand can have.

So how do you build a positive experience for employees?

  1. Create a sense of shared purpose. Be clear about what your business stands for and why everyone’s  contribution is important.

  2. Employee voice. Take time to listen to your employees and respond to their ideas and questions.

  3. Invest in leadership. The style and quality of leadership at every level is critical to a person’s experience, and needs to reflect the wider values of the company.

  4. Create opportunity.   For those with aspiration, that work hard and live your values, opportunities for career development and progression need to be part of the deal.

  5. Show you really care. Encourage your employees to become involved in supporting wider issues, investing and supporting the local communities in which you operate.

  6. Wellbeing Create environments where the health, safety and overall wellbeing of everyone is the number one priority.

In a fast-changing world, businesses will need to compete harder than ever to attract people and retain them, and that means treating people as individuals, really understanding and caring about what makes them tick.

Employees should be treated like customers – after all, customers wouldn’t stay around for long without committed and engaged employees. Employees who feel respected and trusted to do a good job are more likely to advocate your brand, spreading positive messages across their own personal networks, helping to build brand awareness and attract new talent.

The reality is that the ‘social media generation’ is less trusting of traditional marketing techniques, and instead looks for authentic information. Employee advocacy bridges this gap, sharing unbiased information that people can trust.

Employee advocacy may not be on every marketer’s agenda yet, but with thousands of people already voluntarily posting about their employer online, it’s not something that should be ignored. At Saint-Gobain, we engage online encouraging our employees to share their views and stories.  We communicate with both customers and employees, via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, hoping to make people feel part of a something bigger.