Tuesday, September 14

Overemphasizing External: Companies Still Neglect Employees

While a new survey from the CMO Club and Hill & Knowlton reveals 52 percent of companies have yet to align marketing and public relations efforts, the real story is that 70 percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) do not have an active employee engagement program.

Perhaps worse, 58 percent of CMOs believe marketing spearheads efforts to galvanize employees. Seriously? Having sat in several meetings where advertising agencies have unveiled new logos by giving employees pens and paperweights, I can assure anyone that not only are employees the most important public, but many of them also wear more than one label.

Five Reasons That Employees Matter As A Public.

People are more productive when they enjoy what they are doing. Most entrepreneurs always advise that you have to love a business to make it successful. Employees feel the same. If they feel like their employer is making a difference in their lives, then they will work harder to make a difference in people's lives, especially customers.

People are drawn to building something. Sure, most people are content to let other people set their goals in exchange for security and stable conditions. But great companies empower people more than they employ them. They frequently crowd source from their employees to make improvements on every level.

People want to be proud of where they contribute. One of the most neglected areas of crisis communication is employee communication. Even while companies such as BP spend millions to ease the markets, they forget the residual impact of several thousand employees who are embarrassed to tell people where they work.

People don't wear just one hat. This is especially true for B2C companies, but B2B as well. Employees are frequently customers and shareholders too. And, with the exception of luxury brands, consumers feel comforted knowing that the bank teller keeps her account at the same bank and the car salesman drives the brand he sells. Likewise, employees who have some of their retirement wrapped up in a company are equally sensitive to stock fluctuations.

People don't like surveys all that much. If your only employee feedback is in the form of a survey, they're not engaged. In fact, most employees are afraid to provide honest feedback for fear of being fired. It's much more effective to establish communication through supervisors (whom employees tend to trust) and some direct contact with executives. If your employees aren't comfortable with sharing information direct, it's likely a symptom of bigger problems.

Who Should Lead The Employee Engagement Effort?

Interestingly enough, many companies struggle with the question as much as they struggle with who is best suited to lead social media. Given all companies are different, there seems to be only one right answer. True integrated communication is ongoing, not ad hoc, which leaves the person best suited to the task being the leader.

Right. Leaders are best suited to lead whether they come from the public relations, corporate communication, marketing, investor relations, or even human resources department. And in communication, the best leaders tend to be those who are the most experienced across a variety of disciplines. Or, in other words, if you are an entrepreneur making the decision, choose people over professions.
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