From employees to ambassadors: what makes people willing to become advocates of their organization?

Even though employee ambassadors aren’t considered a must in every organization, employee advocacy is getting increasingly popular. Especially since the beginning of the pandemic, organizations seem to have realized that employees can spread messages about companies wildly and authentically as nobody else could.

Additionally, the costs of spreading employee messages usually aren’t high for organizations. So, today, by investing in employee advocacy initiatives, organizations can enjoy better reach, a stronger image, and more applications from candidates wishing to fill empty positions. But what makes people willing to become ambassadors and represent the organization on social media and beyond? Let’s see. 

Personal, group, and organizational factors

In their article published in 2021, researchers Patrick Thelen and Rita Linjuan Men distinguish three different types of factors that influence employee advocacy: personal, group, and organizational. Personal factors are related to employee emotions, approach to work, and how well their values match the values of the organization they work for. Relationships between managers and employees and mutual goals that employees are supposed to achieve are examples of group factors. Culture, attention from highest level managers and socialization are elements of organizational factors.

Additionally, the researchers found that employee willingness to become an advocate for an organization is also influenced by the openness, transparency, and positivity of corporate organization’s communication. Management of employee advocacy programs is also important. This includes communicating the initiative’s goals, guidelines and empowerment by responsible people.

A single course is not enough

If the employee is pleased with the factors mentioned above, they will likely be willing to represent the organization. However, many lack the skills to do it in the digital environment. Over the recent years, with LinkedIn getting more and more popular, many saw employee advocacy programs as a part of communication on LinkedIn.

However, the truth is that LinkedIn is only one of many possible channels for employee advocacy, although currently the most popular one. One of the reasons for this may be a popular opinion that a short, one-time crash course on LinkedIn is enough for people to start consistently communicating and spreading messages about the organization, its operations, and job opportunities.

In rare cases, this strategy might work, but if you really want your employees to create content consistently, you need to put more effort into it. First, it is recommended to find a person internally responsible for the employee advocacy program, in other words, its owner. This person’s job is not only to find a course, but to remind employees about possibilities, help when any questions arise, and inspire when people feel unmotivated. In some cases, organizations choose to outsource program owners; however, even then, it is crucial to have a responsible person within the organization.

Where should you start if you wish to begin an employee advocacy program in your organization?

The organization has a great culture; employees are eager to represent it on social media actively, and a responsible person is assigned. What else should you know? First, it is essential to define the main goals of the initiative. They can vary from talent attraction to bigger sales or strengthening employer brand in general. All participants of the program must be aware of these goals.

It is also important to decide who will be participating. In many organizations, managers remain the most popular choice, but it is worth noting that various departments might have employees that are great communicators, even if you didn’t know that before.

Once the goals are defined and participants are clear, it is important to inform them about expectations. Which channels should they use (will it be LinkedIn only, or maybe Instagram and Facebook, too?), and what kind of content should they create? It’s also worth deciding on a budget and KPIs.

Before starting an employee advocacy program, it is crucial to remember: your way to employees’ hearts is paved with organizational culture. So, before you start motivating your employees to become ambassadors, it is worth checking how they view the organization and its treatment of the employees.

You may find this article in the Lithuanian language here. This article was published on Delfi M360 website.