Organizational Branding: The Power of One Employee

by Guest David Miller

By David Miller, M.A., Senior Consultant at Kantar TNS

BRAND

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers,” says Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Organizations must continue to reach higher levels of business performance and brand growth to stay competitive in the market. Organizational Branding continues to have a strong linkage to Employee Engagement.  Based on research conducted by Kantar TNS, over 40% of employees were Engaged in the workplace.  However, nearly 20% of the employees were showing signs of Disengagement.

In Social Psychology we often refer to a concept called The Multiplier Effect, which implies a person is twice as likely to share a poor experience compared to a great experience.  In today’s workforce, business is mostly done through referrals and recommendations.  With more websites and social media forums (i.e., Yelp, Glassdoor, etc.) individuals are provided with more resources to make key decisions.  Therefore, it is important to build Employee Brand Champions to ensure a positive customer experience.

One of the greatest challenges organizations face is ensuring their employees portray the desired brand and image that the organization wishes customers to feel. For example, there was a recent video of poor customer experience from a Disengaged Airline Employee.  Not only was the video viewed by millions, it also impacted the airline’s brand and ticket sales.

So how can organizations reduce the chances of something like this from happening? It starts with building Employee Brand Champions.

 In a recent study by Kantar TNS, the following themes were key drivers for building an Employee Brand Champion:

  1. Senior Leadership Effectiveness
  2. A Culture of Recognition
  3. Continuous Process Improvement

Senior Leadership Effectiveness.  The perception of senior leadership was the top driver to building an Employee Brand Champion.  Employees continue to ask for more interaction with senior leadership.  I have conducted over 300 employee focus groups asking employees about senior leadership.  The most frequently stated response from employees was More Visibility.

Therefore, encourage senior leadership to schedule routine visits with employees.  Create a purpose for senior leadership to round.  For example, I was working with a client in the manufacturing industry with plants across the country.  They developed an Innovation Initiative and had senior leaders meet with employees for coffee and collaborate on best practices and ways to become more innovative. Not only did they improve their Senior Leadership scores (15+ percentage points) on their repeat survey, but they also had significant improvements on their Engagement scores.

Instill a Culture of Recognition. Recognition was the second driver to Employee Branding.  Recognition can often be described as eating cake.  The first bite is always great, but too much of the same old cake can make you feel sick. Based on my experience working with clients, Employee Lead Recognition Programs were most successful.  For example, I was working with a healthcare facility in the southeast region and they developed a Recognition Committee.  It allowed for employees to get involved and cross pollinate with other departments. Each year they were provided a small budget to recognize the staff and hold appreciation events. During the next focus groups the following survey, the employees highlighted their culture of recognition shifted from HR/Management lead to employee championed; which increased employee participation and their level of appreciation.

Continuous Process Improvement. Resources and Materials was the third driver to building an Employee Brand Champion. When conducting employee focus groups, employees often stressed doing more work with less staff.  Therefore, I often find it is important to probe into three areas: 1) staffing, 2) resources, and 3) processes. 

Although it is easy to focus on staffing, action planning on Processes often yielded bigger returns for the workgroup.  Processes are often put in place in a time of need and there is rarely time to revisit how well it is functioning.  For example, I was working with a nonprofit organization in the Midwest.  During a focus group with their IT Department, they specified a lack of staffing.  However, after further discussion, there were outdated processes that created additional manual work.  Therefore, manager collaborated with the team and developed a Process Improvement Plan to streamline the workflow.

In conclusion, one employee can have a tremendous impact on business performance and brand growth.  To ensure an exceptional customer experience, listed above were three tips to building Employee Brand Champions. To build Employee Brand Champions, it starts with asking your employees the right questions, asking them frequently enough, and acting on the right insights.

For additional information on the Employee Engagement and Building an Employee Brand Champion research please visit http://www.tnsemployeeinsights.com.

To learn about Perspectives’ Employee Engagement Action Planning Tool that helps leaders take real action on survey results, contact Jonathan Eisler at jeisler@perspectivesltd.com or 312.636.6609.

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