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Andrew Seel



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Recruit smart: how employee advocacy can attract talent


Talent acquisition is significantly more effective when you engage your employees in advocating for your brand. Employee advocacy is increasingly being adopted by leading brands to meet the growing recruitment challenge in the UK.

With concerns over ‘Brexodus’ (the departure of European workers after Brexit), an ageing population and unemployment at a 40-year low, it is becoming more and more competitive to attract the best talent.

Empowering staff to talk actively to their own personal networks on social media about what it’s like to work at a company is an effective way to increase brand awareness, driving up employee referrals. Tech-enabled platforms are now supporting brands do this at scale and measure results.

Employees are more trusted than a CEO or board of directors according to Edelman Trust Barometer 2018, so handing marketing over to your staff enables enterprise level businesses to distribute employer branding more authentically, and refer brilliant candidates from a diverse talent pool to join your company.

Employees drive brand awareness

The candidate process is undergoing a radical transformation in 2018. The recruitment approach needs to be more personalised, localised, segmented and contextually relevant, as job seekers are much more informed and likely to research companies in advance.

Candidates are 40% more likely to put in an application if they are familiar with the company brand according to a recent Glassdoor report.

Employers looking to take advantage of this trend can engage prospective talent by activating authentic word-of-mouth on social media through employee advocates.

Advocacy tech platforms now support companies wanting to switch on, manage and measure thousands of advocates. Employee advocacy also makes the recruitment process more effective – reducing cost per hire and the application process time.

Employee impact

Employees know their brand, products and services better than anyone, so are ideally placed to communicate to new audiences and speak with integrity. Recommendations on their own company and workplace help the candidate decision-making process.

Employees also give companies a better chance of securing a diverse mix of new talent, and organisations with a diverse workforce are more likely to outperform competitors by 35% according to research from McKinsey.

Tips for launching an employee advocacy programme

If your company already has a number of employees who are engaged and share brand content organically (news, insight, charity initiatives etc.) on social media then you are in a good position to start a formal employee advocacy programme.

Adopting a tech employee advocacy platform will help you:

  • Invite and manage advocates easily
  • Manage content with ease
  • Measure activity accurately and report back success to shareholders, tracking the business impact you are making
  • Motivate employees through gamification levels, rewards and badges
  • Share success and keep employees excited about progressing
  • Achieve sustainable results with a minimum amount of people involved in running the programme.

Who will be your first recruits?

Running a small pilot programme to begin with will help you identify who to recruit as your first advocates and onboard them smoothly, before rolling out a programme across the whole company.

‘Early adopters’ should already be social media savvy and interested in helping shape the programme. Proven ways to help you identify recruits include: interviewing managers as to who would be a good fit; running a survey to gauge interest; and exploring a variety of locations and departments.

It’s important to have a senior stakeholder in place – someone who can align the programme with wider business objectives, the company’s vision and values, and that gets everyone behind the new initiative.

To help get early adopters involved, email your chosen recruits and invite them to an introductory huddle with senior stakeholders. Also consider an introductory video where you can outline the benefits to them personally.

What content will they share?

To begin, you don’t even need any original content. The good news is that you can re-purpose existing brand content for employees: your social media plan, campaign assets, seasonal initiatives, events-based content, influencer created content etc.

You will be able to see very quickly what content performs well, allowing you to optimise your mix of content. You will also be able to see how content performs over different platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to guide you strategy.

If your employee advocacy platform has an in-built ‘gamification’ element, employees will be able to win points, get rewards and badges, and move up a leader board as they share new content.

Who do we need on our team?  

You’ll need a few key roles on your employee advocacy team, but with the right tech platform in place, your new programme will be launched quickly and managed simply, supporting colleagues and reporting results accurately.

It’s important to have a senior stakeholder in place – someone who can align the programme with wider business objectives, the company’s vision and values, and that gets everyone behind the new initiative.

It’s important to create content advocates will be happy to share on a regular basis, that feels natural, and that engages their followers and friends.

The advocate manager role is a little like a social media community manager, who will typically spend two to three hours a week on it once it’s up and running. The content creator is in place to generate images and relevant content for the new platform.

What data do we get?

An employee advocacy programme needs to have the rigour around data to measure performance, giving managers the opportunity to optimise continually and report back to stakeholders effectively on ROI. Real-time data provides a commercial advantage and drives sustainable results.

Practically, for a tech-powered advocate platform, this means: having a clear and live advocate dashboard of social media activity; impressions, engagements and clicks on links; top performing advocates, top performing content; and trends graphs to show activity.

Data sets demonstrating success can be shared with employees to galvanise the workforce, and correlated against wider criteria (e.g. NPS scores) before and after the programme has started. ‘Smart content’ can also be delivered to employees based on their individual context (department, region, interests etc.).

A united and influential workforce

Critically, any employee advocacy programme should support talent acquisition, reinforce business objectives, and integrate and amplify existing marketing activity and campaigns.

Working with colleagues is a major opportunity to significantly improve the effectiveness of your recruitment strategy. To do this it’s important to create content advocates will be happy to share on a regular basis, that feels natural, and that engages their followers and friends.

Get it right and you’ll join a new group of employers winning the best talent on the market that is making a substantial difference to the bottom line.

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