Now what is meant by the term Brand Advocate? Well it is certainly a term that appeared from nowhere and is now a bona fide buzz term but is it really being employed as much as it is being spoken about. Today I would like to focus on the Brand Advocates that work for you, the ones you see 5 days a week, the ones you sign pay checks for.
Firstly I am a massive believer in the concept of Brand Advocates, who wouldn't be. The idea that everyone from the CEO to the cleaner can have a positive or a negative impact on how the outside world views your company is immense. My concern is that a lot of companies ignore this or don’t understand the importance and it is costing them dearly.
A workforce consisting of mainly unhappy bunnies will have several negative if not fatal implications on your business. Firstly they are probably not the most productive of workers and are probably looking for a new job for most of their working day but are these the worst scenarios in this scenario (just about got away with that!).
The answer is NO and a big one at that. A disinterested and disenchanted workforce will cause bigger and uglier issues in the future. If their specific beef with working for your company is that they do not feel appreciated by their boss then this is the information they will (happily) convey to people when they eventually leave. Now telling people who work at the same company is bad but imagine if they tell people that your company would ideally like to hire in the future? Do you think they would interview with your company?
For me being a Brand Advocate doesn’t just mean that you are constantly boring people to death about how wonderful your company is but it also means you are reducing the amount of negative information you are sharing with your colleagues and the outside world.
Obviously there could be an infinite amount of reasons why employees are unhappy at work and believe me trying to get to root of these issues with a huge workforce is impossible. In saying that you have to understand that employees talk to other people about their work life issues and you as the owner of the company need to minimise the negativity that is being filtered in the world. Imagine one of your employees having a frank conversation with one of your clients about your company, now imagine that your employee is less than enthusiastic about working there and probably says they won’t stay for much longer. Some clients will possibly ignore this as they have employees that work for them who feel the same, but then you will have other clients that will react very differently to this and may not want to work with such a disinterested partner. This may seem dramatic but I have no doubt whatsoever that this is happening and will continue to.
The easiest way of minimising bad press from inside sources is to keep your workforce as happy as you can. For one a happy workforce is more likely to work harder and be more productive and they will not be looking to leave you for one of your competitors at every waking moment. Give them a reason to say nice things about working at your company. Now in fairness they may not want to shout these good things from the roof tops but on the flip side they won’t want to bad mouth your company either, which in my books is a win.
Another issue that seems all too common place these days is when companies happily let experienced employees leave without seeming to care at all. Sometimes people may not actually want to leave but certain factors within the company have meant that staying is not an option. Sometimes when people hand in their notice there isn’t anything you can do to get them to stay but there is plenty you can do to make sure they remain a brand advocate even though they no longer work for the company.
Firstly conduct a proper exit interview and really try to get an understanding as to why they are leaving. This will (hopefully) give them a sense that you care that they are leaving and it will also give you insight into potential problems other employees may be experiencing. Also thank them for all the hard work they did while they worked for you and really mean it. This is a small gesture but may make a massive difference to the employees mindset when they walk out the door.
What you need to achieve is the employee who is leaving doesn’t feel the need in the future to talk negatively about their time with you. Easier said that done I hear you all scream and I agree but this has to happen or at the very least tried.
Creating an environment where all employees that work under your roof are engaged and happy is an almost impossible task especially if you have a huge workforce. Employees in certain jobs are constantly battling targets and deadlines and end up spending more and more time in the office, they will have days when they doubt what they are doing. These are the days when you need to be communicating with them, letting them know that what they are doing is valued and appreciated. This won’t stop them from being tired or stressed but it will definitely show them that what they are doing is being noticed.
Remember a pat on the back is sometimes all it takes. It shows the employee that they are an important part of the company and a valued member of staff and that can make the world of difference to them and you.
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