Every business owner would love to inspire a sense of loyalty and support for their brand from each one of their employees. In the real world, few employees will actually go out of their way to gush about their employers or the brand they work for.
What you’ll normally hear from most employees are sob stories and criticisms about how their employer just can’t seem to get anything right, how they are unfair, how they sometimes treat their customers badly and so on. However, there is a small set of employees out there that rave about their employers. That couldn’t be prouder to work for a particular brand. That tell the world and whoever else cares to hear about how fantastic their brand is. Every business owner’s dream come true.
Below are some simple pointers that can steer your business towards that dream goal.
Make Sure Employees Know the Brand Inside Out
From your brand’s history to all the product variants that your company offers, make sure your employees are cued in. Keep them informed about important announcements before you go public with them.
This engenders a feeling of family and trust among employees, something that deepens the employee-brand bond. Besides the touchy-feely glow around keeping employees in the know about your brand, your employees need to really know their stuff when outsiders need help regarding your business or when faced with a customer service problem that seems about to blow up.
Engage employees in real conversations. Encourage discussions about what can be done to promote the brand or take their opinions on internal matters. Use collaborative tools like WorkZone or Trello to allow employees to participate in brand related conversations and projects. Inspire them to contribute in a concrete fashion through such tools instead of simply giving ‘employee inclusiveness’ pure lip service.
Develop an Open and Empowering Company Culture
The basics of employee welfare are a given. Competitive salaries, flexible work time and non-stingy vacation policies are pretty much standard in today’s competitive employer climate. No one gives you special points for meeting the bare minimum requirements of a decent employer.
What does earn you strong employee loyalty is a work culture that is open and communicative. One that encourages employees to speak up and does away with unnecessary hierarchies and closed doors. One where it is okay to question authority and one where employees are not micromanaged on every move they make is one that instills confidence in an employee’s mind.
Truly employee-friendly brands go one step further. They offer their employees the freedom and authority to make important decisions, instead of passing all of them on to higher management. What better way to say ‘we trust you’ than to actually demonstrate it in action.
Grant Insider Perks
Who does not like a special price on a product or a service? Even better if it’s free. While it’s silly to go around distributing your products at deep discounts or for free among the general public, it makes great sense to do so among your employees.
For one thing, you’ll get great word of mouth mileage out of it. Employees who get special discounts, friends and family discounts, special access to merchandise etc. are proud to show-off their special privileges among family and friends. This means more positive conversations about your brand, more users seeking out your brand even if it to get a ‘friends and family’ discount and more overall buzz around your brand. That’s a great thing for any business.
You know another collateral benefit of insider perks? Higher employee retention rates.
Many industries have caught on to this fact and offer some pretty awesome insider perks to employees. From free gym memberships, to all you can eat snack bars, to at least two free air tickets that most airlines offer annually to their employees, to deep discounts on shopping that retailers offer to theirs – employee pampering gets brands results that one cannot wish away.
Since we’re on the topic of deep discounts to employees, how’s this for an employee privilege? A 40% discount on all shopping on Zappos by their employees.
Encourage Employees to Endorse Your Brand on Social Networks
With social media being so universally adopted in this day and age, it makes perfect sense to leverage your internal network (read ‘employees’) to say good stuff about your brand to your external networks (users).
Share content with them that they can use, encourage them to link to the company page on their LinkedIn profiles and ask them to talk up the brand on Twitter to spread a good word around. Many brands go to extent of allowing employees to speak on their behalf on social media. Zappos and Nokia are two such examples. Some allow employees to reach out to users via the brand’s social media accounts and leave behind their personal signatures on such interactions. Case in point – Chipotle:
Most brands now have their own corporate blog where they share exciting news, interesting factoids, tips and tricks and more with their users. Get your employees from across the board (and not just the marketing team) involved in contributing to your corporate blog. Get product insights from the production and manufacturing team, interesting insider anecdotes from the human resources team or even innovations in productivity by your operations team.
Your employees will love the chance to speak up and the recognition that this brings them, while your users will love the authenticity that real employees bring to the relationship they have with your brand – instead of just being told how to buy more of your products.
Don’t look at your employees as people who can’t be trusted, people who need to be kept away from your deepest secrets. Trust and loyalty are two-way streets. If you can’t offer these to your employees, there’s little hope of getting the same love back from them.