Any human resources professional or corporate leader will tell you that there is a direct connection between an organization’s success and employee engagement. In fact, a Dale Carnegie Training survey exploring What Drives Employee Engagement and Why It Matters revealed the one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the workforce, the people who are the company. The study concluded that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged.
And according to a post from theEMPLOYEEapp the Gallup Employee Engagement Report found that disengaged employees cost the country somewhere between $450 and $550 billion each year.
None of this is any secret to those of us in the brand field. We’ve long known employees are critical to what we do, and that the greatest inspiration for employee engagement lies in the brand. More than products, services or advertising, employees are the reflection of an organization’s brand, and employees invested in and proud of their organization’s brand are an unstoppable force.
So how do you achieve that?
Full employee engagement in the brand ensures that all employees understand the brand strategy and are able to successfully deliver on the brand promise. Aligning the perception they convey with the organization’s brand takes a deliberate and sustained brand education program — one that creates a common understanding of the brand across all employees.
Brand Education Goals
To be successful, a brand education program must take into account every aspect of operations — size and levels of workgroups, geographic differences, job functions at every level, etc. With clear goals and outcomes at every step, a brand education program must:
Align the brand with the company vision, mission and values — Internal and external messaging, while not necessarily dovetailing on every single point, must be complementary.
Make the brand understandable and relevant to all employees — To be a true “ambassador” of the brand, each employee must understand how and why it relates to his or her job.
Move employees toward the role of brand advocate — Optimally as employees become more educated and engaged, they will
· understand the vision, mission and values
· think and act like owners of the business
· find their own ways to deliver on the brand promise
· feel empowered to make the right decisions for the brand
· deliver a positive brand experience at every opportunity
Brand Education Starts at the Top
Complete employee engagement in the brand is only achieved when company leaders actively demonstrate a strong commitment to the brand. If top management doesn’t lead by example, the rest of the organization can’t be expected to follow. Leaders must translate the brand strategy into clear and actionable ideas that all employees can understand. And remember, every meeting and every internal discussion, is an opportunity for education and inspiration.
As the owner of the “heart and soul” of the organization, the CEO must set the vision for the company and explain how it can/needs to be brought to life. Those just below the CEO, the senior leaders are charged with providing context around the brand and vision, and making it relevant for their teams. These leaders must also foster a brand-driven culture within their organizations. Managers are where the brand becomes real to employees, making it meaningful and serving as an advocate to their employees.
Benefits of Brand Education
The benefits of a successful brand education program span all aspects of your business.
Operations — You have to know the business to grow the business, and helping your employees understand the company and the brand helps achieve financial and operational goals.
Employees — the brand provides clarity to strategic ideas, builds a positive work environment and creates a common culture. The more knowledgeable and motivated employees are, the greater employee satisfaction and engagement.
Customers – Your brand exemplified through your employees is the starting point to deliver positive customer experience and building lasting customer relationships.