When employees are encouraged to promote the organization, their engagement levels increase and they feel more connected with their workplace, further resulting in increased productivity and retention, say the authors.
Piyush Pranjal, Associate Professor of Practice (Management), Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Sindhuja Bajaj, Research Intern, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Madhuri Mukherjee, Independent Strategic HR Consultant.
Employee advocacy implies employees acting as ‘part-time marketers’ for their organization, advocating its purpose, products/services, policies/perks, stories, etc in their respective social/professional circle. In essence, employees provide a view of the ‘inside of the organization’. Besides positive word-of-mouth, employee advocacy entails defending the organization against criticisms/controversies that it gets ‘embroiled’ in, especially in the age of digital media.
Of late, organizations have given immense importance to digital media. They spend huge resources in building followership on social networking platforms like Instagram, Facebook/Meta, LinkedIn, etc through advertisements, celebrity promotions, and influencer content. But these are costly and often deemed in-authentic. Employee advocacy is a less-costly and more-authentic alternative. It offers multifaceted benefits if implemented properly. Each employee has a network of connections to which she/he can advocate her/his organization in a ‘personal and assuring’ way.
When employees are encouraged to promote the organization, their engagement levels increase and they feel more connected with their workplace, further resulting in increased productivity and retention. The target audience more easily trusts information shared by employees as they are deemed to be aware of the actual workings of the organization.
However, orchestrating an employee advocacy programme is not without any troubles. Crucial ones along with tested recourses are discussed below.
Programme’s purpose – The organization must first communicate the significance, purpose, and benefits of the employee advocacy programme it is embarking on. To gain employees’ confidence, transparency and approachability are critical as it becomes easy to ask questions, which helps gain trust and ‘buy-in’ from employees. The organization should substantiate its communication with studies/statistics that point towards the positive outcomes of advocacy. The organization also needs to ensure that employees participate voluntarily and not from compulsion. Lastly, it is very important to test the waters first and then deep-dive.
Work culture – The early thrill and excitement to advocate for one’s organization usually fade away. An organization that is only about work and no-play (wellbeing, connections, etc) is at an increased risk of facing a scenario where employees care less about the organization. A positive, nurturing, and meaningful work culture can facilitate the required enthusiasm. It basically boils down to employee experience. A happy and satisfied employee will be more inclined to go the extra mile.
Published in: ET HRWorld, The Economic Times
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