Building brand advocacy in a virtual world

Significant and profound events over the past few years have altered our perceptions and lifestyle beyond anything we could have comprehended, and our relationship with work is no exception. As people now place even more importance on purpose-driven work, agility and autonomy; businesses have recognised the incredible influence and power that their people have, particularly when it comes to building a positive culture and reputation.

With almost half of British employees (47%) prepared to walk away from current roles should their needs and values no longer be met, a potential “war for talent” looms on the horizon. As a brand looking to build reputation and retain great talent, one of the most powerful tools you possess is the voice of your employees.

The speed at which all businesses were forced to adjust to the new world of remote working has, in some instances, left little time for company culture and processes to catch up.

But with so many complexities and priorities to focus on – where do you start when it comes to building advocacy within a team that is mostly virtual and looking for more than just a salary?

Living the values and defining your new purpose-driven culture

Today, nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults would not apply to a company unless the values aligned with their own.

It is therefore imperative that companies make this their first port of call, but in our post-pandemic world, do your values still stack up to what people want, or do you need to adjust and adapt?

As a company wanting that edge over your competitors, now is a brilliant time to revisit your company culture, purpose and employee value proposition (EVP). After all, what attracted your people to your business, might no longer be the thing that makes them stay. It’s therefore important that you include your people in the journey and ensure that their needs and motivations are central to the strategy.

A recent survey by Aon revealed many (41%) smart businesses are currently re-evaluating their EVP with 97% of them saying they would make mental health a top priority.

Make sure you’re not left behind.

Smart communication and active listening

When we are distant, it is easy to fall silent or even walk away, particularly now that we have lost those causal office interactions and camaraderie.

Ensuring your employees feel seen, heard and valued is a brilliant way of fostering emotional connections and building trust and belief in your business. Too often in remote environments, businesses revert to ‘top-down’ communications (because let’s face it, it’s easy to send out an all-company email and cross off the to-do list). But this is a sure-fire way to alienate your people.

Invite diverse thinking: give your people the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions regularly, and where possible, give them to power to make the decisions, instead of you. From the small things to the big career-defining moments, this will build trust with your people, and empower them to be accountable for the reputation of the business.

Be intentional about creating regular check in sessions too – not just within teams but cross-sectionally as well – which in turn, has a huge impact on culture and engagement as it builds respect and understanding across the business.

Recognition and celebration

Feeling undervalued at work is the number one reason employees quit their job these days according to McKinsey.

Recognising and celebrating the efforts and achievements of your people is one of the biggest drivers for employee engagement.

With recognition held in such high regard, celebrating your employees can go a long way to making your people feel seen and appreciated – something that can easily fall by the wayside when working remotely and missing those “everyday” anecdotal moments of recognition.

Companies need to be deliberate about creating a culture that acknowledges employees wins – great and small. It helps create a sense of security in their value to your company, motivates, inspires – and fills them with warm fuzzies.

Moments of recognition can be anything from celebrating when people have performed brilliantly, to saluting significant milestones in their career – or just sharing a heartfelt thank you in appreciation for something they have done (or simply for who they are).

It’s important to build a recognition strategy that compliments your values and enhances the culture you want your people to experience. Then let your people do the talking and the celebrating.

Championing your company from the inside out

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to brand and employee advocacy – every company is unique, as are their people.

The best way to grow your brand advocates is by listening first and acting with authenticity and integrity. Creating an empowering, purpose-driven company culture that gives them something to talk about – or even better, shout from the mountain tops.

If you are looking for advice, guidance or help in building a happy workforce, we’ve got the experience and know how to give you a hand.

If you’d like some help recalibrating your internal comms, give us a shout. It’s what we do best.

where next…

Dear Brands: Be more human>