27/06/2017 | John Brennan

Listen to your employees – They’re your brand!

27/06/2017 | John Brennan

Listen to your employees – They’re your brand!

Your most important internal customers

Employees are becoming our most important internal customer. Treat them well and they can be your most loyal brand advocate, get it wrong, and they can be your most vocal critic.

Richard Branson said: “Employees are your company’s competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen – so long as their needs are being met.“

But meeting the needs of all employees is easier said than done. The work place has become increasingly diverse. Companies don’t retain staff like they used to and few employees expect to stay with the same organisation for years. Strategic job hopping is becoming the norm. Moving away from a traditional top down employer engagement model that can foster an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ approach to employee relations is important for all brands.

Connected employees

Inspiring loyalty and buy-in from your workforce is a critical business challenge for all employers. Building a cohesive workforce who not only understand your company values, but believe, and connect with them too, is powerful competitive advantage. For Seth Godin this is what a ‘connected economy’ looks like, and it is what the Harvard Business Review describe as a ‘living brand’.

Growing your living brand

Employees want to be heard. According to a recent study by Ultimate Software, 75% of employees are more likely to stay with a company longer if they felt their concerns were being heard and addressed. Connecting with your employees creates real, measurable value.

So how do we make sure everyone’s voice is heard?

One idea that is gaining traction amongst organisations who put their employees at the centre of their business is using a Company Ambassador scheme.

What are Company Ambassadors?

Ambassadors are approachable members of staff who have been nominated and given the role of collecting feedback, ideas and information from employees. This information can then be fed through to management and leadership teams.

Giving Ambassadors the freedom, power and flexibility to engage with colleagues in way of their choosing is key – whether speaking to colleagues over lunch, running drop-in sessions or creating an anonymous feedback survey. It’s whatever works best and most naturally. The larger the company, the bigger the team of ambassadors.

Ambassadors are particularly useful in creating a positive outlook for employees. It gives everyone an opportunity to engage more openly and honestly. Negative feedback becomes easier to deliver and receive. Opportunities to resolve conflict become more identifiable. It also means that good news is easier to share. The very act of listening sends a powerful message to employees – what you think and feel is important to us.

Ambassador Scheme in practice

Here at Shield Safety we’ve already seen the benefits of an Ambassador Scheme. Since introducing Ambassadors six months ago, staff engagement and retention have gone up. Our team of four Ambassadors, from separate departments of the business, meet regularly to share the thoughts and suggestions from colleagues. We recently held a ‘Quiz night’ – an idea we put into action following staff feedback. We wanted to give Shield Safety’s remote workers a chance to do some team bonding – not something they often get to do onsite. Francesca Crossley, our Ambassador from Shield Safety Resourcing, explains why it was a great idea:

“Sometimes engagement between our remote workers and the rest of the staff isn’t as high as it should be – simply because they aren’t in the office so much. We didn’t want them to feel excluded from our very friendly company culture. So, a quiz night was organised to coincide with our remote workers being in the office for a meeting the next day. We all finished work a little early, served food and drinks and ran the quiz. It was fantastic! Everyone took part, formed teams and consequently got to know each other a bit better. We’ve already been asked when the next quiz is happening!”

It’s easy to implement ideas – like a team-building quiz night, that can have a big impact on your employees’ experience of your ‘living brand’.

How Ambassadors will help your brand:

  • Your organisation becomes human – not just a top down idea / management style
  • Your company values are at the basis of everything the workforce does
  • Approachable members of the team will be more honest with ideas or feedback
  • Ultimately if colleagues are happier it will positively affect their work and job longevity

The downsides

  • Ambassadors will have to take time away from their usual work duties
  • Demotivating for staff if their ideas are not taken up
  • Companies may have to make some changes to benefits / processes

Become the best employer you can be

Employees have so much choice these days. Becoming their employer of choice means understanding what they need, and what they want. And that doesn’t begin when you recruit someone, and end when they leave.

To create a true living brand, you need a dialog that extends beyond those boundaries. Creating an inclusive, fluid and open structure within your organisation is a great step towards engaging both existing and future employees. Doing so gives you a far better chance of understanding what your employees really want – not what you think they do!

By giving employees a voice and involvement in things that matter to them, you will reap the rewards of a more engaged and higher performing team.

A workforce who feel valued and listened to will always outperform people who feel disheartened and unappreciated.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.