Employees: Oft-Forgotten Advocates for Businesses

There’s a lot of chatter these days about using “influencers” to advocate for a business, bring in customers or otherwise reach success. Most often, the term “influencers” refers to a celebrity or someone outside the business who it’s believed will provide the boost the business needs.

I’m not saying influencers aren’t worthy of attention. They definitely are in the right place and time, for the right strategic reasons. But that’s a post for another day. What we want to talk about today is a quieter influencer and one who is already in your business. That’s your employee.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer cites continuing growth in the number of people who rely on “someone like them” when making buying decisions. “Someone like me” has more impact than an employee or a CEO, journalist or government official. Entrepreneurs rank well, but still not as high as someone to whom employees can relate.

Treat your employees well, with goodwill and respect. Together you will both succeed. It’s pretty simple. If you succeed, they remain employed. Their support has to be earned to be genuine. So, how do you do this?

  • Get to know them. Have lunch with them monthly, or as often as you can.

  • Listen and ask them what they need. Give them what they need, if possible.

  • Trust them. Talk with them using positive statements instead of negatives. (Good advice in life in general)

  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Tell them what’s going on in your business and listen to their suggestions for improvement.

  • Value your team and the skills and dedication they bring to work each day.

  • Respect.

Communicate to Gain Support

When you have a new program, or want to introduce changes that affect the company, start by involving your employees. It takes time but can be something of a dress rehearsal for a public announcement.

  • Schedule group meetings to make announcements and answer questions.

  • Several times and locations may need to be scheduled to make sure as many employees can attend.

  • Offer a way for employees to provide feedback anonymously after the events.

  • Respond to concerns and take advice when you can.

Social Media Ambassadors

Social media is a great word of mouth program that carries a lot of clout when the right person shares the right message. Studies indicate these “endorsements” are more valuable than advertising. Consider creating a program so it’s easy for employees to talk about the company and help bring customers in the door.

  • Establish some simple guidelines for acceptable social media behavior. But also trust your employees to post without your watchful eye.

  • Provide ready-to-use stories and visuals they can share if they’re willing to do that.

  • With their permission, feature staff on social media. It introduces your team to your customers and also shows them you care. They’ll share your posts with their family and friends for maximized exposure.

Cause-Oriented Programs

Once you understand your employees’ passions, develop some support programs. For example, many young people are concerned about environmental issues. Restaurateurs are also trying to reduce food waste. A program where employees suggest ways to reduce food waste would go a long way to making them feel good about where they work, the company succeeds, and everyone helps improve the world.

Rewards Don’t Have to Cost Money

Rewards should be meaningful to the employee receiving them. That’s why a program with rewards based on what you know your employee values will work so much better than one based on corporate/HR regulations.

  • Consider a menu of choices that encourages employees to continue advocating for a bigger reward.

  • Offer them “swag” so they can wear your logo in public.

  • Offer to double their tips for a week.

  • Ask what nonprofits they support in the community and plan promotions that give money back to those nonprofits. Match employee contributions to nonprofits they support.

Say Thank You All the Time

At the end of a busy time, schedule an evening to get everyone together to say thank you. It can be a pretty straightforward event where you celebrate everyone’s hard work while enjoying refreshments. Say thank you and personally express your thanks to all attendees.

Send employees handwritten thank you notes when they go the extra mile. Not all thanks or appreciation have to be public. A handwritten note is something so unique today that it will definitely stand out from the crowd. Mail it, don’t hand it out, for added impact.

Speaking of saying thank you, thank you for reading this post. We appreciate your support and look forward to helping you create employee programs that work for you and your employees.

This post first appeared on food-pr.com.

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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