A key component of succeeding in your business is the engagement of your employees. Having engaged employees is important as they lead to satisfied customers and higher revenues. However, the involvement of your employees in the the success of your business is not limited to just the workplace. The employees who act as evangelists of your brand outside of workplace are your most valued assets. Active employees are more likely to recommend your brand organically. They are, in essence, the true promoters of your brand, and employee activism adds value to your company.
It is for this reason that most Fortune 500 companies are focuses on the employee satisfaction and engagement.
“In today’s environment where there is an alarming lack of trust in all institutions, employees are increasingly the key prism for brand credibility and trust. Engaging them can provide companies the best way to humanise and unify their enterprise voice — a strategic imperative in today’s environment.”
Micho Spring chair, Global corporate Practice Weber Shandwick
Employee engagement is now believed to be imperative to a company’s success and is the underlying foundation for high-performing companies.
There is a subtle difference between employee engagement and employee activism. The former will have hardworking people who want to do well in their respective jobs and are highly motivated to do so. Their relationship with the company, however great it might be, is private and the public is not privy to that knowledge. The latter, however, make their engagement visible to the outside world, defend their employers from criticism and act as active advocates of the company they work for on social media and elsewhere.
Employee activism already exists and more often than not it exists organically. Employees who genuinely love their work and the company they work for, and do not see their job as a way to just pay the bills, are the ones who take up the charge of being activists. Occasionally, though, activism can be stimulated by the employer.
Many active employees defend the reputation of their employers and their companies. These employees defend them to their family and friends, and even in more public arenas like websites, blogs or newspapers. These are the “first responders” and rise up in support of their organisations in times of need.
While employee activism usually originates organically, as an employer you can do several things to increase it. When they employees do not feel listened to or feel ignored and go recognised in a place where they invest their time and energy, they may not indulge in activism. A company is what its employees make of it. And in order to bring the best out of the people who work for you, you must deeply engage them. Any and all criticism by the employees of your company should be paid attention to and taken seriously. Their suggestions for the workplace environment should also be considered.
“Listening and responding are leadership skills critical to driving employee engagement. Ultimately, companies that work hard at communicating and listening — from the mailroom to the boardroom — are the ones that win in the workplace and marketplace.”
Andy Polansky CEO, Weber Shandwick
The leadership of a company plays a critical role in driving employee support. This includes, but is not limited to, making the company an employer of choice, building a reputation of trustworthiness and demonstrating that it listens and responds to employees. You must delevop a culture of internal communications, fair treatment of all employees regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or cultural differences, and community responsibility. These will strengthen the company-employee relationship and deepen employee activism.
The impact of social media on the reputation of the employer and the company is now an everyday reality. All companies have a dedicated Public Relations department to handle any crisis on social media and elsewhere. Social media is a two-edged sword: it works both ways. On one hand it helps in the interaction with existing and potential customers, on the other it is critical to employee engagement and fuels employee activism. “Employees have multiple social platforms on which they can air their likes and dislikes of their jobs, bosses and organisations.” According to LinkedIn research, 61% of LinkedIn members who follow your organisation are willing to be your brand ambassadors and share your Employee Value Proposition with their networks.
Since the culture of employee activism exists, you should leverage it to increase the goodwill of your company.
“As employee activists gain numbers and strength, organisations need to be prepared to facilitate the activism of these employees. Internal communications needs to move beyond being company news briefs and alerts to being more content-rich. Company storytelling is not just for external media anymore, it’s a way of ensuring that employees are informed and have something meaningful to say about their employers.”
Kate Bullinger Co-Lead, Global Employee Engagement & Change Management Weber Shandwick
You must recognise employee activism for the movement it is and capitalise on it. You should proactively manage it. Simply having employee ambassadors will not cut it in the long run. In the near future, you will have to increasingly need a group of employees who “can take action by spreading the right messages for them, helping them recruit the best of the best or defending their position when they are under scrutiny.” As an employer or a leader, you will have to make move on this quickly as your employees already have several platforms to engage with the public. They define their employer’s and company’s reputation. You should, therefore, not lose precious time and act on it soon. Social media enhances the risks, but also the opportunities. As mentioned before, it is a two-edged sword.
The social world is a huge space and it is not easy for a company to continuously monitor its presence on various platforms. You need to have a team of dedicated social media managers who stay on top of things for you. However, even then certain things are bound to slip through the cracks. SmatSocial makes it easier for companies to manage their social pages by automating the process, saving both your time and money.