As our world becomes increasingly driven by digital technologies and the workforce experiences generational shifts, employee engagement is rising as a top focus area for many companies. After all, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace study, just 16% of the American workforce is “actively” engaged.
Of course, when employees aren’t engaged, they’re a flight risk. In fact, Gallup’s research also revealed that 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Furthermore, those employees who fall into the “actively disengaged” category, are almost twice as likely as engaged employees to seek new jobs. And when employees leave, that can have a big impact on your bottom line when it comes to recruiting and back-filling costs.
So, after reading all of that, you’re probably wondering: What does employee engagement have to do with marketing?
Well, marketer friends, the truth is that employee engagement has everything to do with marketing.
At the most basic level, without an army of engaged employees, your marketing efforts—whether it be recruiting top talent or fostering employee advocacy on social media—can’t reach their full potential. But on a deeper level, there are couple other important marketing benefits you could be missing out on:
Regardless of department, every employee boasts first-hand insights into “who” your company is, what it cares about, what your customers are saying, the quality of your products or services, and what they see as the biggest value adds or opportunities.
As a result, your employees are absolute gold mines for getting insights that can help you refine and drive your marketing efforts. But in order to mine for those honest insights, employee engagement has to come front and center.
Why? Because employee engagement helps build rapport, strengthen communication and mobilize people to take a more active role. So, if employees aren’t engaged, they’ll be less likely to go the extra mile by sharing their insights with you.
Marketers are often thought of the spenders within an organization, but engaged employees can help turn that notion on its head a bit. As mentioned in the section above, the insider insights that you can uncover are not only authentic and helpful, but they don’t cost you a thing—just the time and care in gathering them.
Of course, this means you can’t simply ask employees to weigh in from time to time. They need to feel like they’re valued from top to bottom within the organization, which means regular nurturing and engagement that trickles throughout the organization.
Your employees are not only the people behind your brand, but also active consumers taking place in the marketplace, writing reviews, sharing recommendations verbally and via social media with friends and family, and researching their purchasing decisions. And they’re more than willing to share both positive and negative feedback about you online.
In fact, a couple years ago, a Weber Shandwick study found that 39% of employees had shared praise or positive comments about their employer online—and 16% had shared criticism or negative comments.
From my perspective, engaged employees are more likely to fall in the latter category. Why? Because when employees feel understood, valued and connected to something bigger than themselves, they feel pride—and pride is a reason to give praise. Furthermore, in today’s competitive talent landscape, current employees can be your best recruiters.
As a result, with a focus on employee engagement, you can unlock employee advocacy—and that’s the kind of marketing that money can’t buy.
Employee engagement doesn’t happen overnight—nor does it happen with only the marketing department driving the initiative. Employee engagement has to be baked into your overall company culture to be successful.
So, where do you start? At the top.
Your company’s top leaders are the people who will give your employee engagement initiatives wings, helping the message and the commitment trickle down throughout the rest of the ranks.
I also suggest that you take a peek at a recent Marketing Land column by Karen Steele of Marketo. In the post, she outlines the four steps her organization took to bake employee engagement into company culture, as well as the results they’ve seen.
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