How to Leverage Employee Advocacy to Attract Top Talent

Much of a company’s continued existence hinges on how many outsiders are aware of it. If consumers do not know about a product being offered, no matter how wonderful it is, they will not purchase it. This is fairly obvious. But awareness extends further than this. If people do not know a) that a company exists, and b) it is an excellent employer, it will be incredibly difficult for that company to bring in highly-qualified employees to take the company to the next level. Here is where employee advocacy comes into play. If a company can show off concrete examples of current employees demonstrating belief in their employer, it can work wonders for the hiring process. Brand communication specialist, Ehsan Khodarahmi, summed up the power of the current employee perspective, “Some brands spend a lot of money on research to learn how their brand is perceived by their customers; but they spend very little time on listening to their employees (who are constantly in contact with customers and prospects).”

Seeing as every company wants to attract top talent, it is important for them to leverage employee advocacy in order to do so. How can you do the same? We connected with a few business experts to get their answers to this question. 

Referral program

Ryan Rockefeller is the co-founder of Cleared, a brand offering prescription allergy medication delivered. He suggests implementing a system that rewards current employees for suggesting new hires. 

“If you’ve ever been charged with hiring someone for a vacant position, you know how overwhelming it can be when all the applications roll in. It seems impossible to sort out who is the best-qualified candidate because the number seems endless. But, if you can encourage your employees to contribute to your referral program, you stand a better chance of identifying a person fit for the position. Employees don’t want to risk their standing in their job for someone who couldn’t do the job so there shouldn’t be as many question marks.”

Lean into authenticity

Emjay specializes in marijuana delivery. Their CEO, Chris Vaughn, considers it wise to highlight truthful opinions from current employees. 

“If the customer always knows best, then I’d argue that the employee knows most. Here’s what I mean. There are few, and likely zero, people who spend more time with your services or products than your employees. There’s also no one who has deeper experience with your work culture than those working in it. This is ammunition when attempting to utilize employee advocacy. People have been shown to be far more trusting of others they believe to be their peers rather than someone abstract brand message. Real, human interaction is far more valuable than any perfectly worded corporate message so lean into authenticity.”

Focus on the culture

Lori Price is the founder of PixieLane, a brand offering clothing for children. She cautions others to pay attention to what is taking place in the physical office before going public with it.

“Employee advocacy can only be as powerful as the business they are advocating for. If your employees hold a poor opinion about their workplace, it will be reflected in the way they talk about it. This can be detrimental to the hopes of bringing in excellent employees when growth or turnover happens. So with this in mind, it should lead you to focus on the culture of your workplace. When the only source of value provided to an employee is their paycheck, it’s indicative of a workplace with a poor culture.”

Who is on your side?

Some employees are more willing to participate in employee advocacy than others. Andar is a business providing handcrafted items such as wallets and phone cases. Their co-founder, Eric Elggren, proposes identifying these people.

“Not every person who works for you will want to be part of a social media movement or anything else related to employee advocacy. There are employees who are content to collect their paycheck and head home. Obviously, these are not the people you want speaking on your behalf because it won’t be a glowing review. With employee advocacy, you should be asking yourself, ‘Who is on my side?’ The people who answer this question are the ones you want to put at the forefront of anything related to advocacy.”

Rewards

Diamond Mansion specializes in high-quality and affordable diamond jewelry. Their CEO and founder, Omid Semino, believes in incentivizing employees through awards and prizes. 

“Employees who do not feel appreciated even when they accomplish something significant are the ones who will never have a good thing to say about their job. Employee advocacy really starts with how a company treats its employees. In many cases, this should probably mean more than simply saying, ‘thanks’. The employee of the month program doesn’t exist just to make a company seem official. It’s there to promote high-quality work through rewards. When employees are confident in the backing of their company, they begin to advocate independently. This type of natural advocacy is a direct product of the work environment it can originate from. It’s up to those in charge to figure out how to make that happen.”

Technology

Cole Steverson is the COO of Hybrid2Go, a brand offering battery replacements for hybrid cars. He advises others to make the most of the software available to them. 

“When speaking conceptually, employee advocacy can be vague in a variety of ways. But the influx of technology has provided a beacon of light in this area. Gone are the days of being unaware of the impact your team is having. With these programs, you can understand how employees are talking about you, find better ways to have them discuss you, and obtain detailed analytical data which should allow you to operate more efficiently moving forward. All in all, technology can be a best friend when trying to rally your employees to your side.”

Rules

Patriot Coolers is a business providing beverage storage products. Their business development manager, Marcus Hutsen, considers it necessary to construct guidelines for employees to follow for posting company-related content. 

“If you leave employees to their own decision making when communicating online, the message that your company wants to convey may not come across properly. This is a prime example of why your employees should have a clear understanding of what they should be posting and when. Without it, any member of the viewing audience will be confused because of contradicting messages. Furthermore, having rules in place will keep you out of any hot water legally speaking. No one wants to deal with a lawsuit because an employee made a typo.”

Free stuff

No matter the circumstances, everyone loves complimentary items. Kinoo is a business providing video chat software specifically for grandparents and grandchildren. Their CEO, Jim Marggraff, advises those seeking to add great employees should look at the simple act of giving away company-branded items. 

“We’ve reached a point in our social media culture where every user has seen someone they follow post about receiving a gift from a company or brand. Generally, that business is tagged in the photo and the items are related to them in some way. This is an example of how you can use free stuff to your advantage. It may not seem cost-effective to pay for merchandise with your logos on them and then give them away. But the notice you receive from interested job seekers will quickly sway your opinion here. 

As seen above, there are numerous methods for leveraging employee advocacy to attract top talent. Essentially, employees are often the first thing a potential hire will come across before even filling out an application. Sonja Dreher, the associate director of enterprise marketing at Spotify put it best, “Employees embody an organization’s corporate character and shape its reputation by functioning as powerful representatives of their organizations.”

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