Your employees should be your brand’s biggest advocates

May 30, 2016

Yolandi Janse van Rensburg

“Gone are the days when employees were merely working for the sake of having a job,” says Yolandi Janse van Rensburg, the head of the social media department at Native VML. She shared how technology and greater access to information has helped employees to become more mindful and how this impacts a company’s brand at a recent talk held at Native’s Cape Town offices.
“Consumers have realised they can make or break brands. They are choosing brands that resonate with their own values and that reflect the kind of life they want to live and the kind of world they want to live in,” she says. “For this reason, brands need to become more mindful too.”
“To bring the best kind of engagement internally for innovation, but also from a marketing point of view, is to start with your biggest advocates – your employees that you already have,” explains Janse van Rensburg.

She illustrates her point with a quote from a study conducted by Aon Hewitt: “A 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.”

Who you should engage

Interestingly, the professional employee and millennials are least likely to engage, followed by generation X. Furthermore, employees who are engaged, but not empowered, are also at risk of frustration and burnout.
The following are hindrances to engagement:

  • Coworkers
  • Organisation reputation
  • Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Customer focus
  • Valuing people in the workplace

The solution to engagement lies at the executive level. “Having a social strategy and charisma is so important to lead millennials to want to engage as an employee and act for your brand. So engaging leaders who engage others contributes to a culture of engagement that sustains business results,” says Janse van Rensburg.

How to engage your employees

Companies should focus on the following three areas in order to engage their employees:
1. Digitisation. HR and employee analytics are the next big thing and we should invest in them more. HR must transform itself from a transaction/execution fashion into a value consultant that brings innovative solutions to business leaders at all levels, making HR more agile, forward thinking and bolder in its solutions.

2. Collaboration. This allows for employees to give ideas and know that they’d be considered and potentially used. It provides a healthy learning experience for all the staff.

3. Innovation. This refers to saying goodbye to the tightly fit box we assume employees should fit into and instead creating a culture of trust.

Janse van Rensburg concluded that employees should be screened before being hired and, once hired, should be briefed on the company’s values. “By employing those who are linked to your brand, their values are something you can build on – before they become employees incompatible with your internal culture, or your brand in the public realm, discrediting what you stand for.”
By Pasqua Heard,
Pasqua Heard