It has always been challenging to recruit strong talent. Recruitment is time consuming and can be very expensive, especially if you get it wrong and have a high turnover rate. However this year, the challenges are intensified because the demand for talent far outweighs the supply. Job vacancies are surging, especially in the private sector and it’s very hard to find someone with an actual heartbeat let alone good talent to sit down and have a conversation with!
This is causing significant issues for employers as one of the top priorities for organisations is growth and one of their biggest challenges is employee retention. You are not going to achieve the level of growth you are aiming for if you are not retaining your good employees. That is a fact.
With practically every industry facing the same challenge, how can organisations set themselves apart and attract talent whilst also retaining the strong talent they have?
With the ‘Great Resignation’ firmly taking hold globally, and Gallup reporting that over 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching opportunities, this is a huge opportunity for organisations if you get it right. Your employees can be your most vocal and dedicated brand advocates - IF you create the right foundations and foster the right culture. Having employees who speak favourably about your business to their networks, on social media and in their community can be magnetic in attracting people to your organisation and retaining your current workforce.
What is a brand advocate?
An employee who is a brand advocate believes strongly in the organisation’s values, ethos and culture and will go the extra mile to promote it. It's similar to customers who have become brand advocates. These customers are the ones who write glowing reviews, mention your products on their social media pages and will openly share their positive experience of your brand through old fashioned word-of-mouth. With 75% of people trusting peer recommendation rather than advertising, this can make a huge impact. You want and need your employees to be doing the same.
How do you create brand advocates?
There are many ways that organisations can foster strong brand advocates. Here are five important ones to get you started:
- Get your leadership right
One of the biggest influences on whether your employees will be brand advocates is the leadership. When you look at the research into why people are leaving their organisations it’s because of how they are treated and this is a direct reflection of the leaders. If your leadership is not equipped to lead in a way that is engaging, compassionate and connected to what truly matters then you are at a disadvantage from the get go.
For your employees to be brand ambassadors, they need to be engaged, connected and strongly aligned with your organisation. Are your leaders facilitating this? Have they got strong and meaningful relationships with their team? With 80% of the global workforce being disengaged or actively disengaged, this is a big question mark and also a huge opportunity.
Ensure you equip your leaders with the skills and techniques they need to be leading in our new era. The leadership of yesterday is now irrelevant and regardless of any other strategy you put in place, if you’re leadership isn’t up to speed you’re losing from the get go.
- Connect them to your purpose
This is important to do now particularly with dispersed workplaces and concern around keeping the culture alive. Culture is not something that is limited to the office; it is attributed to the organisation regardless of the operating model. The more connected employees are to the purpose of the organisation, the ‘why’, the more meaning people gain from their work. They become connected to the higher intention of their work and understand where they add value. Providing purpose and meaning directly contributes to engagement levels which will help with retention levels.
- Ask for feedback
You’re employees are the ones who are on the ground and experiencing the culture, leadership, processes and operating model first hand. Why wouldn’t you ask for their opinion on a regular basis? What is working, what isn’t working, where are the challenges, what needs to improve, what can be leveraged, what needs to be scrapped? By getting your employees feedback and then of course taking action on it (something that is missing in many organisations) can assist employees feeling they are contributing, their feedback is valued and they are part of the journey rather than being told what to do and how to do it by the powers that be.
- Leverage your strengths
Not all employees will be vocal advocates. There will be some who will be your loudest and influencing voices - both internally and externally. Understand whom this in your organisation and how you can leverage their voice. How you can provide them with a platform to shine and inspire others to be as connected as they are? What do they need from you in order to do this well?
- Encourage and reward
Being proactive about brand ambassadorship is smart, but forcing employees to be so isn’t! Your aim is to have people speaking freely and from the heart about your organisation. Encourage your employees to speak positively about your organisation if this is their experience. Educate them as to why this is so powerful and how it will assist in the retention and acquisition of talent and also enhancing the culture. Introduce a reward scheme for employees who are your advocates and attract talent or clients to you outside of the normal commission structure that is in place for many roles. This is about advocating for the brand, not the widget.
Your people are the power in your business. Never has there been a more critical time for them to be so. Whether they naturally take on the role of brand ambassadors or importantly become more engaged and connected to your organisation, the benefits in making this a proactive pursuit will be well on truly worth it.