Employee marketing engages staff

Savvy employers invest in employee marketing - not just because they want happy employees, but because they want a healthy bottom line.

Savvy employers invest in employee marketing - not just because they want happy employees, but because they want a healthy bottom line.

No matter what your business - manufacturing, banking, healthcare, retail - figuring out how to keep good staff should be high on your priority list. Your employees are your company's most valuable asset.

To tell if you're making the most of this asset, ask yourself these questions: Does my company have a formal employee marketing program? Is a portion of my company's marketing budget allocated to internal efforts? Is employee marketing included as a part of my company's strategic plan? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, consider this.

There is a measurable relationship between employee engagement, retention, and business performance. In its 2005/2006 Communications ROI Study, Watson Wyatt Worldwide found that companies with effective employee communications programs had a 19% higher market premium, 57% higher shareholder returns over five years, and a level of employee engagement 4.5 times higher than that of the competition.

Effective employee marketing leads to a highly engaged staff. The term engaged is used to describe employees who will commit time and effort to help their organization succeed. In other words, the employees who aren't there just to collect a paycheck, but are willing to go the extra step.

Research from The Gallup Organization shows that these workers are more productive, profitable, and customer-focused. This commitment is achieved through open, frequent, and straightforward communication with employees - not always easy - but always worthwhile.

What if your employees aren't engaged? They leave. Working conditions and the job market are different from where they were a couple of years ago. Then, companies didn't need to do much to keep workers; the job market was still in recession. Now, workers have more options and are looking for more than just a paycheck.

Sibson Consulting's 2006 Rewards of Work research sampled more than 1,200 US workers and found that one in six intends to quit their job in the next year. The main lure is not better pay, but more engagement with the company for which they work.

Effective employee marketing results in engaged employees. And engaged employees - with all their other desirable traits - are more likely to stay with their company. Turnover rates in organizations that communicate most effectively are 50% below those of less-effective communicators.

If you think employee marketing is a fad, think again. Companies from Starbucks to Staples to Southwest Airlines devote real resources to their internal initiatives.

Investing in your employees pays off. But don't expect the HR department to carry the load. Employee marketing requires collaboration among many departments: HR, certainly, but also communications, administration, marketing, and leadership.

Approach internal marketing campaigns in much the same way you'd approach marketing to an external audience - which is just as complex and, frankly, more important. The word of mouth about your firm generated by your own employees is the best - or the worst - marketing you'll ever find.

Lisa Ward is account director at Capstrat.

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