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Turning Disengaged Employees into Advocates

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report , a whopping 52% of employees today are disengaged (less emotionally connected to their work and less compelled to put forth extra effort). Only 30% of employees actually love what they do and are deeply committed to the success of the organization. Even more alarming, the report also shows that 18% are ACTIVELY DISENGAGED, which means they openly resist what their company or boss is trying to accomplish—or may even resort to sabotage. So how do you turn these figures around?

I’ve been talking for quite a while about employee advocacy—how organizations can empower their employees to be not just workers, but active champions of company values and service. However, we need to fix our relationships with employees before we can expect them to share good things about us.

How do we do that? The same way we develop good relationships with customers, by:

  • Exemplifying integrity
  • Giving them a platform for open communication
  • Showing them that we’re listening by giving them what they need
  • Rewarding their loyalty and effort
  • Make it easy to share experiences
  • Empower them to build their personal brands, influence and expertise
  • People are people; they all want pretty much the same things when it comes to dealing with others. Whether we’re at work or going shopping, having a meeting with the kids’ teachers or taking the car to be serviced… we all want to be heard, we want to feel valued, and we want to improve our lot in life.

    Integrity is critical

    Whether you employ one person, a hundred or a thousand, the way you deal with customers, vendors and other people is closely scrutinized by your employees. If you say your company values are one thing, but your actions say another, how can you expect those who work for you to act with integrity? Customers experience your values through your employees, so make sure your employees, from the C-Suite on down, understand what’s expected of them and walk the talk.

    Open communication and listening

    Just as you want to have an open dialogue with customers, it’s important to do the same with employees. Nothing shuts an employee down faster than closing the door and making them feel shut out—that their opinion doesn’t matter. Companies that encourage open dialogue and collaboration will score higher in employee satisfaction—especially when they show with actions (not just words) that they’re listening. Employees who feel valued for their contributions are much more likely to go out of their way to advocate for the brand.

    Make work easier and reward effort

    Stress is one of the biggest contributors to workplace dissatisfaction—especially when job security is an issue or an employee feels that their job is made too difficult to complete successfully. When high expectation of performance is coupled with poor practices and lack of adequate tools, job stress is the natural outcome. This is where better communication and listening on the part of the employer is critical. Because your employees work your systems every day, all day, they know where the bottlenecks are and should be your first line of inquiry when smoothing out business practices. Listen to their suggestions. Give them the tools they need to get their jobs done more efficiently and be responsive in praising their efforts, and you’ll have happier, more productive employees.

    Empower social sharing

    Your customers share their experiences with your brand on social networks, and if you’re doing things right, they’re sharing good experiences. Making it easy for them to share your content and spread the word in their networks is a great way to scale positive brand perception. The same can be said of your employees. Censoring employees on social media only hurts your company. They’re going to talk about their work experiences in their own social networks anyway, so wouldn’t you want them to share positive things? If you’re doing your part to make their job as satisfying as possible, they’ll naturally want to advocate for you, so help them do it! Building a clear social media policy and empowering your employees to use social channels builds goodwill, loyalty and trust. Help them be brand ambassadors for you. Do for them first, with no quid pro quo necessary and watch the great re

    Conduct your own employee satisfaction survey

    Not sure where your employees stand on job satisfaction? Conduct your own survey to find out—and make sure you act on the results! Knowing where things stand is the first step in getting your house in order and effecting the kind of changes that will tip the scales in your favor.

    Your employees are at the front lines of communication with your customers, prospects and vendors. Keeping them happy and productive, and empowering them to be social advocates will help you reap the benefits of Return on Relationship , #RonR.

    Empower your Employees, and they will Power your Brand … AND make recruiting and retaining employees much more productive.

    This post originally appeared on TedRubin.com