On a recent tour of the new Google offices in Zurich, Switzerland I was reminded of the value employees’ play in delivering the employer brand promise. These company ambassadors are a powerful front line tool to communicate to potential hires what they can expect from joining the company and an endorsement to current employees that they have made the right choice. It also results in stakeholders speaking positively about the organisation.
Employer branding is not a Human Resources responsibility, it is not a leader’s responsibility, it’s every employee’s responsibility. The most fundamental part of the developing a strong employer brand is built on behaviours, self-esteem, confidence and pride in your organisation. Identifying and developing brand ambassadors is a smart way to attract talent to your organisation as it sends credible messages from current staff to candidates about the benefits of joining the company. As you are reading this article, someone is either reinforcing the key behaviours and positive messages about your employer brand, or quietly destroying it. It pays to send the right messages about the company both internally and externally!
Whilst delivering a presentation at the Universum Annual Employer Brand Awards I presented Google as a case study as a best practice employer brand. I was unaware Google were present at the awards and when they were subsequently awarded the prize for the ‘Most Attractive Company for Business Graduates,’ it confirmed my endorsement. In the true sense of ambassadorship I was approach by one of Google’s managers and invited to lunch and a tour of the new Zurich offices the next day.
Like millions of others around the world I had seen the photos of inside the new Google offices in Zurich and wondered the impact such an environment has on employees. Whilst their work environment may not be attractive to everyone, it’s important for companies to understand the needs of their employees and meet these needs to the best of their ability and resources. Every employee in the offices I toured took the time to stop and say hello or smiled in a manner to project “Welcome to Google – I love working here!” Google does this perfectly!
The benefits of establishing an employee ambassadors programs include:
- Increase in employee referral rate – at a time where active and passive candidates are bombarded with thousands of messages daily and an increasing choice of jobs, the value of recruiting a candidate referred by someone already working for you have increased significantly. If you are not recruiting at least 30% of your hires from your employee referral program then this statistic alone should be a catalyst to appoint brand ambassadors.
- Increased visibility of the organisation in the media endorsing the positive attributes and benefits of working for your company.
- Higher levels of engagement as ambassadors are encouraged to assess policies and practices for alignment with the employer brand and make suggestions to improve the employment experience without fear of retribution.
Brand ambassadors should have high visibility on the careers website, in recruitment press advertising and should actively forge relationships with key personnel in the media to ensure good stories are filtered into the marketplace as they occur. St George Bank which is currently in takeover talks with Westpac Bank realised the value a good news story has when it gets into the media when their story about introducing grandparents leave went viral and resulted in hundreds of unsolicited resumes of staff who wanted to work for the company.
Minchington suggests the following steps to start building your employee ambassador program
- Define your company’s values
- esearch with current employees their perception of the employment experience. Assess any gaps and take action
- Conduct research to determine client and customer satisfaction level
- Define the employer brand promise and demonstrate what it looks like to deliver the promise
- Conduct training with leaders to deliver the brand promise (often they are the most visible and exposed!)
- Appoint brand champions throughout the business (from all levels) and encourage these champions to form networks inside the company
- Provide training to ambassadors in presenting skills and working with the media
- Reward behaviours that deliver the employer brand promise
- Provide ambassadors with the correct tools to promote the company – this may include company brochures, vouchers, gifts, presentations on USB, postcards or DVD’s
- Monitor measure and report on results.