The Customer Within: The power of employee engagement and inside-out marketing (Part 3 of 3)
In our last post, we talked about cause marketing, and why getting employees involved in Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns increases their engagement in the company through inside-out marketing.
But keeping on top of employee engagement programs and CSR efforts, as well as the administrative duties of human resources, is draining and difficult to maintain. While many companies are open to employing technological solutions in this regard, the solutions currently available are fragmented, with no software covering all areas. What is the best solution for effectively utilizing these efforts?
The Next Frontier for Employee Engagement: Executing a Holistic Strategy
In Fortune 500 companies, there are 27 million employees with an individual average social reach of 846 people via social media.1 Though Fortune 500 companies regularly invest in CSR, there is a common failure to integrate these efforts with critical employee engagement initiatives, such as corporate wellness programs, into a single program promoting holistic workforce well-being. The main reason this failure is widespread is because HR, CSR and Marketing departments lack an integrated technology infrastructure to be effective.
By persuading departmental stakeholders to forgo their silos and leading a company-wide buy-in including a devoted budget, adopting an Inside-Out corporate strategy marrying engaged, inspired employees to corporate marketing and messaging could be the greatest innovation of the 21st century:
Whatever the form of the mission statement, it is important to bring the words and vision to life; to demonstrate the values through action, ‘to walk the talk’ and to ensure that all internal audiences and partners buy into and feel part of that vision, believe it and believe in it. Only then can a business hope to project this externally to all stakeholder groups.
Customized Platform to Engage Employees Through Their Passion
All of the employee engagement, CSR, and cause marketing needs we have highlighted suggest that highly specialized technology platforms regardless of functionality will not effectively move companies forward toward achieving their Inside-Out goals of employee advocacy. A powerful all-in-one employee engagement platform, representing holistic well-being for employees — emotionally, spiritually, physically, and profession- al growth — would put technology in service of companies and society in an organic way that engages and champions the individual as they build a socially-conscious, positive self-esteem.
Elements Critical to Success
Successful employee engagement depends upon robust participation. Based on this, these are the bare essential qualities a holistic employee engagement solution must include to be fully effective and inspiring for all employees:
• Single Entry Point:
Ease of use is significant to improving participation. Whereas multiple portals each with their own logins can be confusing and lead to employee opt-out, an optimal employee engagement portal with a single sign-up and login can seamlessly integrate multiple corporate departments, improving coordination. This would include the capability to hook up to existing systems.
As discussed, purpose-driven initiatives and sponsored volunteer activities have proven to be the most effective means of increasing employees’ emotional investment in their company. Brands and corporations could integrate all their CSR & cause initiatives into oneportal that provides employees with a searchable source of causes and ideas. The cause most likely to appeal to a given brand, informed by analytics, could be displayed as a video on the dashboard, which helps the brand build a more engaged team and gives the nonprofit the opportunity for exposure.
NPOs benefit from exposure on the platform so that brands and their employees can become familiar with causes and support them if they match the brand’s mission. Employees wouldn’t have to worry about where to have their donations matched, or what causes their company supports, and could track their individual, group, and company social impact all in one place.
A company that provides purpose-driven, inspiring content can increase employee inclination to share positive stories about their company and their fellow employees. This can separate constructive communication from the ‘mundane message overflow’ of traditional corporate communica- tion and provide an incisive method for building brand loyalty. An employee engagement portal should provide one-stop content distribution from across all company channels, and allow for content creation within the platform.
Video in particular is the most easily consumable and shareable form of media – it represents an increasing share of digital/mobile ad spending, with growth driven by a substantial increase in mobile video allocations.3 The latest VR, AR, and Google 360° advanced video techniques should be implement- ed for any truly holistic employee engagement campaign due to its potential to dramatically improve participation rates as well as enhance goal communication and content sharing both internally and externally. When aimed toward company causes, a 360-degree view of the world stirs empathy and a ction, transporting the viewer across locations and causes. So content, particularly video and experiential content, must be a key part of any employee engagement and cause marketing hub.
• Secure Bi-directional Communication Capabilities:
An all-in-one portal can only properly administrate company activities when there is direct, secure cross-company communication built in. Companies could integrate existing communications programs like Slack onto the portal, or rely solely on the portal’s system to discuss company matters. When we say “bidirectional,” we mean horizontally and vertically – horizontally to encourage peer-to-peer messaging and recognition, and vertically to support communications from management to reporting employees. This atmosphere of open, clear communication adds to a positive work environment.
• Access to Wellness Resources & Experts:
When employees feel physically and mentally well, and also feel valued by their companies, they are more likely to be engaged in all aspects of work. While some employee engagement programs include employee wellness tracking, much like popular personal health & wellness apps, this method is mostly do-it-yourself. To be more effective in keeping employees at their best, companies need to provide resources for workers to find quality information, as well as experts and leaders in physical and mental health.
• Authentic Storytelling Through Social Sharing:
The reach of online sharing by employees is growing as social media algorithms evolve. For example, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm challenges companies to be smarter marketers and better storytellers to provide fans with content that matters to them. While employees are typically talented, smart, and knowledgeable about the company, Employee Generated Content (EGC) is an often overlooked marketing strategy, particularly for companies with a large employee base. Activating employees as co-narrators of the corporate message, giving them the social sharing tools and authority to tell the story behind company causes, fortifies internal reputation and enables staff to externally represent the brand. An individual employee sharing personally-created content deepens engagement for employees and their social networks. It is the most authentic and credible way to amplify a company’s outreach efforts. A singular portal could offer an easy way to do this – with one-click social sharing, employees don’t have to jump through hoops to get their stories out there.
• Game Mechanics:
This feature, also referred to as gamification, is about engaging people on an emotional level and motivating them to achieve their goals. Increasingly used in business, it “add[s] value to product, to increase employee engagement and to drive crowdsourced innovation.” Extending to all facets of the platform, this would have a particularly strong impact on the cause-driven side – if employees can attribute earned value to causes, they’ll be more likely to participate in them.
Upon signing up, employees can track their efforts and share their involvement socially so that the cause they love gets more support, as well as earn them points toward leaderboard status and rewards.
Administrative Dashboard & Reporting:
In contrast to fragmented solutions that track either one campaign or another, the portal could track multiple campaigns in real-time, allowing companies to systematically pursue engagement and social impact. Measurement of program effectiveness – in terms of participation and content popularity – makes it possible to glean actionable data and thereby optimize performance on both fronts.
Analytics on the platform enable measurement and optimization of employee efforts on all fronts, from hours volunteered, to miles run, to posts shared. The powerful software’s predictive analytics could create comprehensive, segmentable reports to determine which employees deserve rewards fulfillment, which areas need improvement, which causes deserve more attention, and so on.
By merging the power of technology, cause, content storytelling, and wellness, a singular, powerful employee engagement platform has the potential to help companies turn holistic employee wellness into action and action into impact.
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”
– Simon Sinek