While growing your brand takes concentrated marketing efforts and strong relationships with your customers, it also requires an unwavering commitment to employee engagement. Believe it or not, engaged — or disengaged — employees are often the distinguishing factor between successful companies and those that never reach their potential.
Employee engagement affects vital areas of your organization, including employee (and client) retention, productivity, earnings, and, ultimately, the bottom line. Ensuring that your workforce is truly connected to your company’s brand and values is the best way to turn your employees into passionate brand advocates.
The benefits of employee engagement are eye-opening. Research from Gallup found that organizations in the top quartile of engagement outperform their peers in numerous ways.
These top organizations outperformed units in the bottom quartile in customer ratings, productivity, and profitability by 10, 21, and 22 percent, respectively. These same top organizations also reported lower turnover, shrinkage, and absenteeism.
If these stats aren’t enough to convince you of the importance of engaged employees, consider that the attitudes of your employees — as projected to customers — define those customers’ experiences with your brand. Engaged, loyal employees will create engaged, loyal customers who are likely to refer additional business to your company.
Now that you know how engaged employees can greatly affect the growth and success of your company, you’ve got to put processes in place to foster that engagement. There are multiple strategies for doing so, but the following are the most effective:
Leadership is responsible for educating employees on the company’s vision and values. Employees should be able to accurately describe why your organization does what it does. If employees are emotionally attached to the vision, believe in what they do, and are committed and loyal to the organization, engagement will naturally follow.
Employees need to trust each other, as well as company leadership, in order to accomplish their goals and remain engaged. Transparency is essential. Discuss yearly (even quarterly) plans and progress, and make sure your behavior reflects what you say — remember, your employees are always watching.
Recognition can be as simple as acknowledging a job well done or as complex as an official rewards program. Recognizing your employees’ good work leads to a feeling of increased self-worth and better performance.
Every member of your team is there for a reason. To help them become and remain engaged, help employees find purpose within their individual roles and responsibilities. Explain why their particular jobs matter, how they contribute to the organization, and the impact their efforts have on the customer experience.
The way your team members treat one another is a strong reflection of your business. Toxic employees lower morale, decrease team productivity, discredit leaders, and cost companies money. What’s more, toxic employees will tank employee engagement. No one feels passionate about a company that offers safe harbor to bullies. When employees become toxic, it’s time for leadership to step in and carve a positive path forward.
Your engaged employees are enthusiastic about their work and are likely already talking about your brand — either in person or online. Give them something awesome to work with, and they’ll spread the news like wildfire.
Encourage employees to promote your company within their personal networks by offering incentives such as referral bonuses. Pass out free T-shirts emblazoned with the company logo — they’re great conversation starters for curious members of the public.
For employees who are active on social media, create and house fun and engaging written or image-based content on your company’s website; this will give them something to share with friends and family that clearly illustrates what your brand is all about.
Take it a step further by including your employees in your company’s content so they can share their thoughts and ideas directly with your brand’s audience. Encourage key employees to contribute content on behalf of your team; if they’re less inclined to contribute right away, encourage employees to distribute content to their own networks.
Throw holiday parties, organize awards banquets, and get the team together for charity work. Snap pictures and send them to your employees, letting them know that they’re welcome to share the images on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. These pictures convey to outsiders a companywide commitment to teamwork, social responsibility, and having fun.
Your brand provides employees with a sense of purpose and identity, serving as a source of both inspiration and action. If you give your employees a reason to truly live the brand, your organization will thrive in its marketplace. Most importantly, ask yourself this: If your employees don’t believe in what your company says it stands for, why should your customers?