Opinion: Making the most of employee-led storytelling

Sophie Lister, a client director at Hudson Sandler who specialises in corporate storytelling, talks about the value of an employer brand, and shares some tips for engaging staff and sharing that positive message.

Sophie Lister 1

Sophie Lister

The term ‘employer brand’ used to be the stuff of blog posts, internal news channels and the occasional CSR story, but is now seen as a way to actively recruit, engage and retain top talent and increase brand equity.

But can employee-led communications really form part of an external communications agenda? And do those outside of your organisation even care?

Employees hold huge sway over how a company is viewed. They can be your biggest advocates and ultimately drive business success, but vice versa; they can be your undoing. As we saw with Mike Ashley and his appearance in front of the Select Committee earlier this year, the narrative around how employees are treated contributes to brand value. Sports Direct’s treatment of its employees showed a direct correlation between the reputation of a business and its share price, which, following the newspaper investigation, fell from 734 pence in December to 403 pence in less than a month.

I recommend the following for successful, employee-led communications:

Create brand ambassadors

We should not underestimate employees’ influence on the success of a brand. How employees speak about the company forms part of the external conversation, and shapes how others, including the media, the Government and investors, perceive the company.

According to the Employee Engagement Benchmark Study 2016, 77% of employees in companies that have significantly better financial performance than their peers are highly or moderately engaged. However, only 49% of employees are highly, or moderately engaged, when working at companies with a less-than-average financial performance.

Engaged employees add financial value to the bottom line.

Engage employees to enhance brand reputation

Reputation is not about what you have achieved, or your company’s financial performance to date. It is about the external perception of your business and what people say about your company when you’re not in the room. This is where your team comes in.

Companies are seeing the value in the creation of campaigns that bring their people to the fore. Not only can it help to drive down recruitment costs and make you flavour of the month with HR, but by creating stories around your people, the fantastic work that has already been done internally is externalised, creating additional value.

The tangible results are not to be underestimated. By developing a corporate narrative around investing in your people, empowering teams and sharing in their successes, you will build brand awareness among new and existing employees, partners and customers. As a result, your employees will feel engaged and invested in the future success of the business.

In addition, the company or employer is seen to ‘do right’ by the businesses and the people you employ. Your brand is only as good as its reputation and that is invaluable.

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