In the employer brand world there is a lot of talk about employee advocacy and brand ambassadors. A lot of talk. Many organizations, it seems, want employees talking positively about them. And why wouldn’t they? When it comes to telling a company’s story, employees are the best messengers of the message. They are a more trusted source and their networks are exponentially larger than their employer’s network.
Everyone wants their employees talking about them, until they don’t. Until they read that negative review. Until someone sends a brash email that ends up on the internet. Until an employee uses the company logo as their profile picture. Until an employee has a bad day and vents via a status update which, somehow magically, gets back to HR.
Here are five types of employees who will activate your brand and three pro tips on how you can thoughtfully manage them—and your employer brand.
1 - The Recruiter
Your organization’s recruiters may be the only representatives that someone ever hears from or meets with in person. The impression they leave with job seekers and candidates is a lasting and critical — yet sometimes overlooked — piece of the holistic employer brand experience. Your recruiter needs to be armed with the best stories, insight and information to effectively serve as an employee advocate.
- Don’t make the assumption that your recruiter is: a strong writer, effectively managing candidate communications or knows your employer brand.
- Understand your recruiter owns these channels: job boards, job descriptions, emails to candidates, interviews with candidates, and career fairs.
- Provide your recruiter with these resources: job description writing workshops, candidate communication templates, pre-approved company swag, brand asset library, and employer brand, interview, and job fair training.
2 - The Alum
Years ago when I worked in college recruiting for a major US auto insurer, I loved taking university alumni back to their campuses. The connections they made and the perspective they shared with future graduates were part of our university recruitment special sauce. However, before you turn your alum loose on campus to represent your employer brand, here are a few things to consider:
- Don’t make the assumption that your alum is: familiar with your code of conduct, knows your employer brand or hiring process, or is thoughtful enough to change out of corporate logo-wear before bar-hopping.
- Understand your alum influences these channels: university career fairs, classroom visits, intern programs, and their network.
- Provide your alum with these resources: your code of conduct and travel policy, information on your early career opportunities and hiring process, and social media and employer brand training.
3 - The Detractor
At work, there are good days and there are bad days. And, sometimes, people use their social media profiles to let off a little steam. Before launching into an HR investigation and putting someone on notice, take a step back and a deep breath. Ask yourself: is this a pattern of behavior? Does the action go against any company policy? Do we need to address the issue? If so, how should we best address it?
- Don’t make the assumption that your detractor is: the proverbial apple that will completely ruin your ability to attract talent.
- Understand your detractor influences these channels: review sites, job seekers, existing and potential customers, their current colleagues, and network.
- Provide your detractor with these resources: your company’s social media policy, a way to submit confidential feedback at anytime, an employee engagement survey, and a person in HR they can talk to.
4 - The Super Fan
The super fan lives and breathes your organization. They are your cheerleaders! Their offices are decorated in branded swag and they love their company Polo shirts. (I once worked with someone who had the company name as their vanity license plate.) These are the people who are ready and willing to share your company’s story. And, that need to understand how to best protect not just your employer brand, but the corporate brand, too.
- Don’t make the assumption that your super fan is: familiar with brand management and your social media policy, knows your employer brand or hiring process, or isn’t thinking about visibly tattooing your logo on their body.
- Understand your super fan influences these channels: their current colleagues, their networks, and anyone who will listen.
- Provide your super fan with these resources: social media training, overall corporate brand training, and a structured employee advocacy program.
5 - The CEO
At exaqueo, we believe that authentic employer brands help organizations find and keep best-fit talent. Your employer brand is as much part of your talent attraction strategy, as it is your talent retention strategy. And, when it comes to keeping top talent, your organization’s leader plays a large role. How is your CEO living out your company’s employer brand? How is she influencing your organization’s unique employment experience? Is he telling your company’s story?
- Don’t make the assumption that your CEO is: going to actively or effectively represent your employer brand, or not going to somehow ruin it, like this CEO did.
- Understand your CEO influences these channels: the media, social media, potential, current and former employees, customers, board members, investors, and their personal and professional networks. (Pretty much anyone.)
- Provide your CEO with: media training. This is typically something the head of public relations or communications can and should provide to your organization’s leader.
Inspiring your employees to share your organization’s story takes thoughtful purpose and planning. (← Click to tweet!) It takes resources and training. It takes someone or a team to shepherd the process. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be policing your employees.
You want to empower them.
You want them to be your advocates.
If you liked this post, check out this one: Don't Forget: Your Interns Are Employer Brand Ambassadors
Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is a Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.