Reputation begins within: turning employees into brand ambassadors

Reputation begins within: turning employees into brand ambassadors

man in officeFor the past 15 years, Harris Interactive has been polling the general public to find out which companies have the best and worst reputation. But what if they polled your employees instead? Would the results turn out the same? Or would their opinions force your company to the bottom of the chart?

You’re pretty sure that wouldn’t be the case, right? Your employees love their jobs and are the best brand advocates you can have. . . .maybe. But the more you think about it, the more you start to wonder. . .

A Gartner study shows that 70% of employees are disengaged from their jobs. In other words, they’re just going through the minimal motions in order to get their paycheck. This results in lower productivity, absenteeism and mistake after mistake. Worst of all, they don’t care about the end product or customer which makes them a real threat to your company’s reputation. Best case scenario, they create a problem with their inaction. Worst case scenario; they set out to disrupt business on purpose out of anger or boredom.

The real shame is that your employees are the best brand ambassadors you can have. This infographic slice from Ciceron shows that employee opinions are highly valued by customers.

Ciceron Employee Ambassador InfographicCiceron says the share rate for content that is shared by an employee vs the company Facebook page increases 8x. And since very few consumers follow the companies their friends work for, employee advocates would help you reach and entirely new audience.

Congratulations, You’re Engaged!

The biggest complaint employees have about their bosses and their companies is that no one is listening, which translates into no one cares. Every employee from the janitor to the CFO wants to believe that their contribution is valued but it’s not enough to say it with a paycheck.

Communication at every level needs to be open and encouraged. Employees need to be able to express their concerns without fear of retribution. Don’t discount the value of the old fashioned, anonymous suggestion box; it works.

It’s also important to keep employees in the loop. Workers will feel more invested if they’re aware of the company’s mission and goals. And when there are big changes ahead, especially unpleasant ones, it’s better to get it all out in the open as soon as possible to avoid the black pit of ugly rumors and worry.

True employee engagement goes beyond the job. Think company sponsored activities, community actions, and rewards. You’d be surprised at how much favor you can gain by loading the breakroom with free snacks or installing a pinball machine in a spare office. There’s a reason people love to work for innovative tech companies; they’re known for turning the office into a playful and inspiring space. And notice that they still get plenty of work done.

When your employees are happy, it’s time to empower them. Encourage social media sharing and then share your employees with the world. Post behind the scenes videos and don’t be afraid to publicly praise workers for what they do outside of the office. If Susan from accounting just published a children’s book, promote it on the company’s Twitter. Even if you’re in the plumbing business, your followers have children and you’ll get points for putting people before profits.

Unhappy employees have been at the heart of some of the biggest reputation nightmares on the web. You can keep from being next if you work on turning all of your employees into happily engaged employees.