Does your staff invest in the company’s stock? Do they recommend the organization as a good place to work? Do they get involved in the community on behalf of their employer? What about the majority of their co-workers? Do you – and your colleagues – do these things? If the answer is no, then why not?
External stakeholders, such as customers, job candidates, and community leaders today often place greater value in the credibility and brand endorsements of a company’s employees than in what they see and hear in the media or from CEOs.
So, while at no other time has it been more advantageous for a company to turn staffers into vocal and positive brand ambassadors than now – when employees can widely, cost-effectively, and passionately tell a company’s brand story through digital and social media – corporate communications leaders would be wise to, first, know what it takes to get employees to behave as advocates.
One of the key findings in FTI Consulting’s newly released 2014 Enterprise Value Study is that confidence is the key to making an employee advocacy strategy more effective.
Confidence is a much stronger predictor of stakeholder behavior than reputation, and by taking concrete steps to increase stakeholder confidence, a company can begin to change attitudes among those in the "moveable middle" – the large number of stakeholders who hold neutral-to-favorable views of a company – and turn them into visible and vocal advocates for your company.
In surveying more than 1,800 US employees of companies with 100 or more workers, FTI Consulting found that 55% of employees say they have confidence in their company, but only 51% would recommend their company as an employer. Less than half of employees would support legislation their company supports (45%) or invest in their own company (48%).
The study also found that on the continuum of stakeholders as detractors or advocates, the great majority (65%) is in the "moveable middle" – meaning there is a significant opportunity to turn more employees into active ambassadors, but they must have confidence in the company to move.
To increase confidence, FTI Consulting found there are specific attributes that yield greater achievement of confidence and desired advocacy behaviors than others.
While all stakeholders want to hear what you have to say about your business, driving employee confidence in your company requires more than reputation building efforts. Employees must understand where the firm is headed, what the strategy is to get there, and what management is doing to help them succeed.
Take customer focus as an example and important attribute. If a company can communicate and demonstrate its customer focus to its employees, the organization is 15 times more likely to achieve employees’ confidence. Here it is from an employees’ perspective: "If I am your strongest connection to your customers, I need to know and see how you’ll help me do my job and serve my customers well."
With the greatest majority of employees in a neutral to favorable place, they are primed and ready to engage in effective communication strategies about the company’s vision, the credibility and strength of leadership, and how the organization will enable employee and customer success. And when individuals move from the middle to a place of advocacy, they become significantly more likely to adopt the advocacy behaviors their employers want to see the most.
Click here to download the Enterprise Value eBook.