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  • Rich McLafferty

Employee Brand Engagement -- How To Simultaneously Engage Your Employees and Build Your Brand

Billions of dollars are lost each year due to lack of employee engagement.

According to Michael Hughes (2008) Executive Director, Strategy and Engagement at The Brand Union, "many companies fail to engage their employees with the brand. In the U.S., disengaged employees cost the economy $300 billion a year in lost productivity costs and this figure is growing rapidly."

In addition, there is an under-utilized, and often overlooked marketing resource in your organization right now: your employees.

The Brand Makes The Promise And Your Employees Deliver That Promise

Each time a customer interacts with your organization there’s an opportunity to build your brand through your employees. The experience your employees deliver to your customers will determine the ongoing perception, and reputation of the brand.

Employee brand engagement is a simple, cost-effective strategy that will help take your organization to new levels of success. Employees who are truly engaged with a brand can create significant financial returns for their organization.

I headed up Customer and Employee Experience at Boost Mobile (the youth brand pre-paid division of Nextel Communications at the time), and part of our strategy was to build the brand through a robust employee brand engagement program.

The foundation of our strategy came from my consultant certification in Branded Customer Service, and the book Branded Customer Service The New Competitive Edge by Janelle Barlow and Paul Stewart.

Your Employees Are Your Brand

A lot of organizations fail to recognize the role employees’ play in building a brand’s reputation and value. Employees interact at personal and professional levels each day with current, as well as potential customers. Each interaction is either a positive, or a negative representation of your organization, and your brand.

Most employees don’t realize the influence, and the impact they have on building brand equity because they are rarely given the chance to get involved with that part of the business. By getting employees involved with the brand, they become more engaged with their role, and the organization.

Brands are not just the responsibility of marketing departments; the responsibly and accountability of building and supporting a brand should be integrated throughout every part of an organization.

Building A More Brand-Centric Organization

Brand engagement does not magically happen, and it’s more than handing out “logo swag.” An effective brand education program goes into detail about the brand’s positioning statement, values, goals, and personality with emphasis on the brand benefit/promise.

Employees can’t deliver the brand’s promise if they don’t know what it is, and how to deliver it through their work each day.

When Boost Mobile initially launched, we focused on our contact center employees as they spent the most time with our customers. We designed a training program that integrated the brand and customer experience strategy into every aspect of training (including the technical aspect of the job) to realize our vision of on-brand success.

The result was a very happy employee group, and that resulted in a very happy customer base. Our Net Promoter Score was 57% (unheard of in the wireless business) and our customer experience surveys told us that the “on-brand” experience highly resonated with our customers. In addition, we had lower employee attrition rates compared to similar organizations across the U.S.

Deliver An On-Brand Employee Experience

To demonstrate that your organization “walks the talk” you should deliver your brand promise to your employees as well. The employee experience will have a direct affect on your customers’ experience (this is really key to the entire strategy). Happy employees = happy customers…it really is that simple.

Designing and delivering an on-brand employee experience is common sense strategy to help build morale, motivation and engagement, as well as improve employee retention.

At Boost Mobile our brand promise was: “Boost your lifestyle and status in ways that matter.” We asked our employees to deliver that promise to our customers, so we did everything in our power to make sure that we delivered the same brand promise to our employees.

We delivered our brand promise by offering meaningful career paths and development (‘boosting one’s lifestyle and status’), continuous recognition, top of market compensation, benefits that went above and beyond, an on-brand office design, policies, as well as an open fun and engaging work environment (just to name a few).

We lived our brand and brand promise (from the top of the organization down) by dressing the part (on-brand), and embracing our brand values (irreverent). Being part of a larger (and let’s say, more ‘conservative’) organization (Sprint Nextel), “rules and policies” were relaxed for us so we could maintain our on-brand culture and environment.

The Result

Employees’ work with a renewed sense of purpose (a team of brand ambassadors) and meaning, and the result is a more vibrant, educated, and motivated workforce that will bring positive results to your bottom line.

It’s a simple, common sense strategy to build brand equity, as well as employee engagement…and it works.