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Employee Advocacy:

Why employees are your company's most powerful weapon in the war for talent.

My discussions with HR managers and recruitment professionals always cover the same topics: skills shortages and demographic change; digitalization of business models; the new job profiles that result; and not least, young graduates’ expectations of their future employers. Plus, of course, how do you attract new employees to the business or indeed, reach potential candidates?  

These challenges are not new. The expression “War for Talent” was first coined in 1997, and 

much has happened since. Online job agencies and head hunters have sprung up. The advent of “recruitment marketing” has given rise to a new HR discipline. Active sourcing has long been gaining ground. The battle for talent, however, is as intense as ever—though its solution is closer than most people think. 

THE MOST IMPORTANT EMPLOYER-BRANDING CHANNEL: EMPLOYEES. 

HR managers have long recognized that the appeal of the employer’s brand plays a decisive role in employee recruitment. Yet although employer branding campaigns are on the HR agenda in virtually every large concern and much of the budget flows to supposedly wide-reaching media campaigns, the most important employer branding channel—the employer’s own staff and their social networks—has not yet been fully utilized. 

Every employee has, on average, more than 340 individual contacts in social networks, and thus access to a valuable pool of potential candidates. The workforce, indeed, constitutes a broad channel for communicating the employer’s brand to a relevant target group. And no other medium can deliver a more authentic insight into a business than its own employees.  

Instead of managing their messaging purely via classic employer branding channels, companies should leverage the potential of their own people as communicators; allowing them to share corporate content – press reports, blogs and the like – on their social networks, for example. Modern content-marketing has even coined a term for this approach: employee advocacy. 

 CONTENT MARKETING GOES HR. 

By providing the platforms on which companies can make content available for employees to share via social networks, digitalization makes this task simpler than ever before for HR officers. Those responsible for marketing have already recognized the trend and use such platforms to develop image and brand. 

HR officers can and should follow suit—both to strengthen the employer brand and to support recruitment. I am convinced that these aspects must go hand in hand. When an employee shares content, the post can be linked to suitable vacancies for which a potential candidate can then apply directly. 

As so often, however, technology alone is insufficient. A corporate culture and structure in which employees are happy to represent their employer is probably the most important basis for successful employee advocacy. Even when the sharing of content must happen voluntarily, incentives can be created to motivate staff. And each employee can improve his/her expert profile in the market by sharing relevant content. In short, everyone gains. 

Ultimately, all concerned must understand that the sustainability of the company depends to a large extent on attracting the right employees and competencies – and that, in turn, stands or falls with the employer brand. According to a recent survey, more than 50% of companies consider skills shortages to be the greatest business risk and barrier to growth. It’s time to get this right. 

Would you like to learn more about employee advocacy? Contact us now or download our White Paper.