While global efforts to make the world a better place from a culture and climate perspective continue to make noteworthy strides, they have also paved the way for entrance into corporate America, as employees, consumers, investors and communities hold companies to higher standards and expect accountability in business operations. Although each group can have a significant influence on organizations, workers seem to hold the most sway due to a convergence of current events.
The pandemic, job seeker’s market, labor shortage and economic factors combined to form a perfect storm of historic proportions in the workplace, giving employees more control over their careers and ushering in a new era and level of employee engagement termed “employee advocacy.” According the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, workplace advocacy has become the norm as 76% of respondents stated they would take action to encourage organizational changes, while 58% would use internal methods and 40% would go outside the company.
Employee advocacy has become a significant factor for companies as they compete in the race for talent and appeal to workers with strong mission and values systems. Below are three areas for businesses to consider for employee advocacy.
Review Mission and Core Values
Leaders should review the company’s mission and core values to ensure they appropriately reflect the company’s vision and principles, along with serving a greater purpose in the world. When companies tie their existence to solving problems and making a difference, rather than operating solely for corporate gain, it positions them at a higher level of social awareness and moral obligation. This philosophy supports a growing trend to provide more value to employees, customers and communities over profits, which is taking a greater hold as millennials and Gen Z have more influence in the workplace.
When companies weave their mission and values into their DNA, affecting all aspects of the business — including recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training — it reinforces the company’s messaging, which has an impact on potential candidates and builds stronger relationships with existing employees. As companies refine their mission and values to reflect a societal impact that is embodied throughout the company, it can have positive consequences on employee advocacy as workers spread the word about the company in their daily interactions with customers or through social media.
Be Socially Responsible
Employees want to be associated with companies that are making a difference in the community, and, with the state of the labor market, they now have the luxury of selecting potential employers based on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. CSR programs not only appeal to employee advocacy, but also add credibility to the organization and its mission and values. While there are a variety of avenues to take regarding CSR, companies should identify the key areas that resonate with their business, employees and clients with endeavors such as disaster and preparedness planning, volunteer opportunities and conservation efforts.
Set an Example
Savvy companies realize that actions speak volumes, so they set an example by demonstrating company values at all levels of the organization through daily interactions, programs and activities, providing evidence that efforts to support employee advocacy are alive and well. While there are various ways to walk the talk, a key employee advocacy area that is in the spotlight and important to many companies is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Companies that conduct ongoing DEI training in the workplace to raise awareness and institute behavioral change; ensure a diverse hiring panel and slate of candidates during recruiting efforts; and offer formal DEI mentoring programs to help ensure an inclusive culture with equal advantages are demonstrating their actions. Companies that proactively live their values and beliefs are perceived as more genuine and transparent, which translates to a great culture that benefits employee advocacy.
When companies embrace actions that signal their commitment to societal issues and moral obligations, they are better positioned to experience employee advocacy that has positive consequences.
Don Alix is a district manager with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources offering the most comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace. He joined Insperity in 2011. Alix graduated from Arizona State University earning a degree in marketing.
Did You Know: Employee advocacy has become the norm in the workplace: Seventy-six percent of employees would take action to encourage organizational changes, with 58% using internal methods and 40% going outside the company.