Extensive Read – Empowering Employees: How to Inspire Staff Online

Gareth SimpsonGareth SimpsonAugust 1, 201715min

Having an empowered and engaged workforce is one of your most important assets. Investing in staff happiness goes beyond everyday concerns like your facilities — you need to learn how to engage people both offline and online, on-duty and off-duty. Implement a holistic employee engagement strategy that leaves no stone unturned.

You want your staff to be more visible online? To get people to contribute to your content strategy, engage on social media, and sing your company’s praises, you need to set out a compelling argument that explains what’s expected of them (and why). Part of this reciprocal deal is giving staff more ownership over digital decisions, and investing more time and money into online staff engagement.

Harness the power of digital engagement tools to help automate and scale your staffing operations, and create a consistent and supportive employee journey across the board. Here is how to  marry  employee experience  with the digital world and maximise company gains.

Making the Case for a Joined-Up Employee Experience

Good businesses are only as good as the talent they attract — and retain. In today’s competitive marketplace, employees are looking for ‘wow’ experiences at work, and corporations are constantly striving to decrease staff churn.

Employee retention is an important business consideration — and there are actionable strategies and actions you can take today. But looking beyond retention, there are other important things to consider, like staff engagement levels, staff happiness, team dynamics, and the likelihood of staff recommending you as an employer.

In order to have a more engaged workforce, you need to start taking an active role in measuring staff happiness levels — over and above the formal review setting.

Make it easy for yourself and track feedback via online surveys — check out some of these popular feedback tools. Using online tools will allow you to parse and analyse staff data on a large scale — but even smaller businesses can benefit from simple online surveys.

Verbal feedback is often lost in the day-to-day running of a business, whereas online feedback is more permanent. It will also allow staff to express their opinions more freely (without worrying about their performance review).

Staff Experiences Online Matter

Based on feedback — where do you need to make the biggest changes? Even if digital didn’t come up, there are plenty of ways that digital can help make a positive difference. If you just focus on the offline elements you will miss out on a really big opportunity to learn more about your staff, and make their working environment better.

When you are focusing on improving your overall employee experience, always include a digital element (even if it didn’t explicitly come up as a staff wish). Whether that’s implementing a staff intranet, online voucher perks, or even changing the way in which staff use LinkedIn to talk about their job, digital is a big part of your staff overall experience of your brand.

There’s nothing worse than reading a Glassdoor review of your brand and realising that you haven’t done a very good job at keeping people happy — get to people before it comes to that. (Sadly, sometimes this negative review is the only online staff engagement companies get — and that needs to change).

Embracing Staff Advocacy

Getting your staff to join in on your digital strategy is a huge marketing and PR asset, but you have to make it easy and engaging for them to do so. It’s very important to give staff space and ownership over what they post online about company life — obviously you need to lay down some ground rules, but corporations are often too restrictive about their staff’s online activity, setting up unnecessary barriers.

Too many restrictions, rules, and rounds of approval will stop your staff from being able to have fun online, and will kill the spontaneity of that #FunTeamDayOut post they were working on. Recognise the immense value of staff generated content, and stop being so hung up on everything being 100% on-brand.

Being too polished and calculated online will make your brand look stale, whereas including diverse voices and narratives will paint a more interesting (and realistic) picture.

In the age of the ‘share, share, share’ generation, too-much brand policing is often stuffy and unnecessary.

Staff social takeovers are a great way to let diverse team members play around  with content, creating content that is truly different and interesting. Think about how ‘coalface’ staff can help create a stronger connection between your audience and your product or service, or how a senior manager can help inspire with their view of the more long-term business strategy. Here’s a good guide to social takeovers.

Staff as Brand Ambassadors

Your staff is in your business every day, know all its people, and its stories — they are in the perfect position to become brand ambassadors. Why pay out for expensive influencer marketing, when you may have potential influencers in your midst? The third sector tends to attract people who straddle the brand ambassador/employee fence, but it’s something that private companies should also be striving for.

Why do people become brand ambassadors?

Through connecting with something they strongly believe in, or off the back of an exceptional experience that galvanises them into action. Going above and beyond as an employer and underlining company values is a good place to start — uniting people around a common cause like a mission statement is a really powerful thing.

A simple way to get staff members more involved with your digital strategy is to encourage them to share posts on your page or from your social feeds — this should never be something that is made compulsory, but rather a beginning of a conversation.

You can easily incentivise referrals to encourage engagement, but this can be a tricky balancing act from an integrity perspective.

Another simple step to take is to actually designate staff ambassadors, both offline and online, who act as internal community managers — setting up LinkedIn groups, organising trips to talks, publicising webinars, and bridging the gap between management and staff.

Finding Marketing Collateral in Your Office

There’s a lot of marketing collateral already sitting around in your business — you just need to take the time to share it with the world.

It’s really easy to follow an editorial calendar, and forget about actually documenting office life.  It’s so important to share #officelife moments, team triumphs, networking lunches, breakfast meetings, and all the other little things that make your business tick.

Document moments of real company life and share them with your audience — it will help build a well-rounded view of your organisation, and attract future talent. A fun and playful office atmosphere can translate really well into online posts — but don’t think you need to be ‘wacky’ for this to work. There are many different themes and flavours that go into a running a successful team — fly your colours proudly, even if your office has more of a low-key ‘geeky’ vibe.

 

Help Scout share loads of helpful team culture posts on LinkedIn — including an insight into how they manage remote teams. Posts like this can help improve motivation levels, as well as reassure future talent about team culture.

Getting People Involved

Use digital to bridge physical space.

The use of communication software and project chats help keep staff motivated and in the loop (Basecamp is a good one). Especially when it comes to staff members who find it hard to express themselves out loud, staff who work from home, or even overseas workers, it’s very important that you give everyone space to chime in on important conversations.

These online platforms enable staff work on projects together, upload documents, and make comments — even when they aren’t in the same city, or even in the same country.

Lead by Example

It’s important that businesses find digital leaders within their ranks — people who are able to lead the way in terms of how to interact online. These people don’t have to be influencers by any stretch of imagination, but they have to represent best practice for your business.  It’s a good idea to have a range of people, from senior management, to middle management, who are deeply involved in your digital strategy. They will then be in the perfect position to introduce digital initiatives to the rest of the staff.

Opening up your company blog to different voices and stories can be a perfect chance to showcase someone’s digital knowledge, and explain how digital helps team members do their job better.

Empower Staff to Start their own Side Hustles

In the digital industry, it’s very commonplace for staff members to freelance on the side, running their own websites and blogs. This is a practice that can be rolled out across a range of industries: encourage staff to explore hobbies and interests outside their day jobs.

It’s important that corporations embrace the positive benefits of having a balanced and well-rounded working life; one that doesn’t necessarily 100% revolve around the company. Providing resources, training, and even co-working spaces, can be a great way to support staff as they start to look outside their day-to-day roles to a deeper connection with the industry (or themselves).

You can even bring the spirit of a side hustle into your business, getting staff to team up and start their own blog, or encourage teams to sell branded merchandise or handicrafts online. Whether your staff go for a fully-featured online store, or opt for a more basic DIY option like chat-based selling, providing them with an online space where they can express themselves is a great way to encourage independence. Starting an internal store is a fun project that’s easy to gamify — and it provides plenty of useful learning experiences.

Engage your staff on all fronts and harness the power of digital for your employees. What’s does your staff engagement gold standard look like?

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Gareth Simpson

Gareth Simpson

Gareth is an SEO pro with over a decade in the industry. Now based in Bristol, his specialisms are blogger outreach and content. You’ll find him at his desk, drinking green tea and working on his latest campaign.




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