Think like a marketer to engage employees, drive loyalty

Customers and employees are a company’s most important assets. Organizations spend a lot of money, through their marketing departments, trying to build relationships with their customers and prospects. They also spend millions of dollars on programs and benefits to create value and attract top talent. Yet they spend next to nothing to engage their employees, leaving them with the same ho-hum communications they’ve been delivered for years. It’s no wonder that according to a Gallup poll, seven out of eight employees are not engaged at work. In an age where employee retention is as critical a goal as keeping customers happy, isn’t it worth the effort to make sure employees feel a passion for your product like your loyal customers do?

An employee’s product, of course, is made up of all the programs and services the company provides – their position, their compensation and benefits, their professional growth and the company’s culture. Not promoting its value among employees is like developing a new solution for your customers but not letting them know how great it is. Failing to create a connection with employees that nurtures their relationship with the company’s brand and reinforces why they accepted the job in the first place leads to complacency, reduced morale, and attrition. And it’s simply missing the opportunity to invest in something that’s guaranteed to yield a stellar ROI: satisfied, productive employees who are excited about coming to work and carrying out the company’s mission.

Also see: Workplace culture must go beyond mission statement, core values

The costs associated with losing employees goes beyond lost productivity. When an employee walks out the door, they take with them experience and knowledge that can take years to recoup, no matter how brilliant their replacement. Companies spend a lot of money to retain devoted customers. They go to great lengths to prevent losing customers over quality or service issues — and they certainly don’t want to lose customers to the competition. Losing employees isn’t much different. If HR takes the cue from marketing and endeavors to do what it takes to retain employees, the results can be phenomenal.

In making an effort to improve employee perception of the company’s brand and value, it’s helpful for HR and benefit managers to look at how their marketing department connects with customers. They’re using data — and lots of it — to know them. They’re using technology to deliver personalized messages tailored to the individual’s place in the customer lifecycle. And they’re using multiple touch-points to engage them. Plus, they’re employing numerous tools to help them measure customers’ engagement and fine-tune their efforts to inspire meaningful interactions. At the end of the day, a company’s sales success depends on marketing’s ability to reach people with the right message, at the right time, in the right way, and to constantly improve so they can keep the conversation relevant — and profitable.

Applying this approach to employee communications is within HR’s reach. Companies have information about employees that marketers dream of: their ages, where they live, where they work, and how much they make. Combine this with employees’ communications preferences to send messages that are all at once data-driven, targeted, personalized, and engaging. Leveraging data to meet HR’s goals — while adding value to employees’ experience with the company — creates a real win-win. Some examples are to provide employees nearing retirement age with information about maximizing their 401(k) investments or customize wellness program materials to appeal to the company’s millennials.

Also see: Open enrollment communications must move beyond status quo

Thanks to technology, there’s never been a better time to tackle the challenge of engaging employees for organizational wellness. Communications have evolved along with the way we consume information. People receive personal and work information on a single device. There’s an app for everything, and we’re “social” in 140 characters or less. We’re practically bombarded by information. But a company can manage to cut through the noise and connect with employees. Like marketers, HR communicators need to embrace the digital age and find their employees’ “sweet spots” in which they’re receptive to both the message and the media. 

HR departments can do a number of things with both traditional and new media to reach employees where they’re already engaging. That might mean using an employee LinkedIn group, Facebook group, or YouTube channel in addition to planning email campaigns, webinars, seminars, and sending snail mail. While the details of their communications plans will vary depending on their employee demographics and the programs they want to promote, the most important thing is to connect with your employees as valued internal customers. When you borrow insights and best practices from marketing, your ongoing communications efforts will lead to higher levels of employee engagement and brand loyalty.

Keith Kitani is CEO of Guidespark , an employee communication and engagement company.


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