I recently had the opportunity to speak with three thought leaders in employee comms: Wendi Smith of Mindshare, Ami Chitwood of Deloitte and Bart Casabona of Pitney Bowes. We discussed how many organizations have found that traditional methods of employee communications, such as email and intranet, are now proving ineffective. Employees feel disconnected from the company’s story and don’t have the ability to “be the brand.”
How is this millennial-minded workforce communicating with each other? What is the most-trusted form of communication? It’s clear mobile and social technologies are the heart of the communications engine for today’s employees. Over 50% of all employees are already posting on social media, yet according to a recent Gallup poll, only one-third of employees worldwide are engaged at work.
Here are some questions we discussed.
Why should digital marketers care about employees as social brand advocates? Why do you think employees aren’t doing it already?
- Wendi Smith: In a recent survey, we found that 87% of employees today typically receive company information via email, intranet, or by word-of-mouth. These methods are becoming less and less effective for everyone.
- Bart Casabona: It’s our 95th year in business and as we continue to transform our approach to client engagement, we recognized peer-to-peer communications as an opportunity to better connect with customers and prospects. That insight sparked our interest in developing our Employee Advocacy program, called the Insiders.
- Ami Chitwood: It’s all about the people and making sure they’re in the know and informed. Connecting Employee Advocacy with your brand and digital marketing efforts helps create economies of scale around content and process and allows you to measure across all social campaigns.
Do employees even want to be advocates? What’s the evidence that they do?
- WS: We found that more employees are ready to be advocates than you may think: 66% of employees believe that they are already advocates for their company. And 50% are already sharing on social, whether or not you are providing them with information.
- AC: Deloitte’s Employee Advocacy program currently has 2,411 members, and we plan to have 5,000 by the end of the year. One of the most-shared posts from the ambassador program was on marriage equality: we turned Deloitte’s famous “green dot” into a rainbow to recognize this important human rights achievement, and employees loved it. When implementing an Employee Advocacy program it’s important for brands to incorporate relatable content that expresses their company’s values. Employees want to share this content – make it easy – make it measurable.
- BC: Participating in our Employee Advocacy program is completely voluntary. In fact, it was important to start with a modest group of willing participants, who really wanted to play a role in telling Pitney Bowes’ story. In development, we had to be disciplined enough to create a program that benefited employees and Pitney Bowes, alike. So, every aspect of our program has our busy Pitney Bowes employees in mind. The result: employee engagement has far exceeded my expectations and continues to increase monthly.
What’s the missing link for employees to be “digital communications ready” and what advice do you have for brands?
- WS: Mobile capabilities are critical for a successful Employee Advocacy program. For employees who have not shared company information on their social networks, more than half (53%) said a single platform/application to consolidate company information would make it easier to share content. Additionally, 55% of employees said that a mobile application would help them be more informed and engaged with their company.
- AC: With millennials as the most disengaged demographic group, should companies rethink comms just for them or every demographic? For the Ambassadors, our Gen Xers are most active because we’ve made the program really easy. Additionally, work closely with your leadership to get a sponsor. For example, my CMO loves the Employee Advocacy program and is active daily.
- PB: The real challenge for us was an investment in social media training; we have instructor-led, live training to ensure employees are properly welcomed into the program and begin confidently participating in social conversations on behalf of Pitney Bowes. No question, Dynamic Signal understood this need and served not only as a technology provider but also as a partner in the process.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.