I started with a new company about a month ago, but before accepting the position, I did the “red flag check.” The red flag check is my way of finding out what people really think about working at the company. I start with the usual suspects…review sites like Linkedin, Glassdoor, Google reviews and Yelp. I then progress to check ins on Facebook and finally the company Facebook page, where I scan comments of customers and employees responses. This type of research usually gives me a pretty good idea of what the company is all about.
Candidates like me look for the unfiltered voices of real employees to give an honest picture of the company. Is the company kind to employees, are there quirky things like “no meeting Fridays” or do people love the cafeteria food? This type of authenticity cannot be bought in a native ad. It comes from the heart; it comes from your employees.
- Your customers are looking for an authentic brand voice
Surprisingly though, very few employees these days actually understand their company’s brand. Only 41% of employees feel like they have a grasp on what differentiates the company they work for. Now compare that statistic to the Edelman Trust Barometer which measures consumer trust. What you find is that employees are one of the most trusted sources of information about a company. Consumers see employees as representing the brand. The real question here is, do your employees see themselves as representing the brand?
- Real Stories come from real life
So your company hires a fancy big name advertising agency, you have a fabulous new logo, a brand story, lots of graphics and a multi-million dollar marketing and PR campaign planned. You are ready for greatness. But then there is the call center, a miserable place where dreams go to die. These frontline employees are impatient and sometimes rude to customers. Your ads are not real life, your people are. And what employees experience day-to-day is often what your customers experience every time they call you.
- Employees need to know the brand first
Do employees have the information they need to represent the brand? You can close the trust gap by using employees to deliver on the brand promise. To do this, employees must first know the brand. Do you have a live the brand site or an internal branding campaign so your people know where to go for brand information? Secondly ask yourself, do employees really know where you are in the marketplace and understand your key differentiators? As a follow up, do they know where you are on social media and can they connect with the company online? If your company is like many out there, IT Is blocking facebook and twitter at work. Why is IT blocking social media, is it really deep down because you don’t trust your employees to work and promote the brand at the same time? Making social sharing a part of your culture is the first step in allowing employees to represent your brand.
What can you do?
The first thing to do is to take stock. You can do your own red flag check. What I found out in my own audit as a candidate was that employees at our call center in Arizona were checking in on Facebook on a regular basis. Unfortunately, they were checking in on holidays and commenting about how much they hate working on Thanksgiving and Christmas. While we can’t change the hours (right away), we can make it more fun and change the way they look at working on holidays. This comes through a focus on employee engagement. I strongly recommend the book, Magic by Tracey Maylett and Paul Warner for more information on how to build employee engagement.
There are plenty of articles and resources out there on how to build an employee brand ambassador program, but before you dive headlong into a grand strategy stop and think. Evaluate what the experience is for candidates, for employees and customers. If you are connecting all three through your brand, then you are off to a good start and ready for a more formal program. If you aren’t connecting brand to these three segments, then start mapping what you are currently doing.
Brand Ambassador Resources to Get You Started: