What’s the single most effective way you can spread the message and amplify your employer branding work? How can you authentically share your values, your culture, and what it’s really like to work inside your office?
If pop quizzes were never really your thing, we have the answer for you right here: employee stories.
According to a recent report from LinkedIn, “candidates trust the company’s employees 3x more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.” That’s right—your existing employees are the very best advocates for your brand. By handing them a microphone and amplifying their voices and unique experiences, you’ll further engage them while also presenting a truly honest picture of your company.
We know what you’re thinking now: That sounds great, but it also sounds tough. How can we get started with leveraging employee stories for ourselves?
You’re in luck. During a recent webinar here at The Muse, we picked the brain of our very own in-house employer branding expert, Lisa Cervenka. Having read thousands of employee stories created with BrandBuilder, Lisa knows a thing or two about how to crowdsource and utilize the very best stories from your employees.
Read on for answers to six commonly-asked questions about employee stories. And, if you’re eager to get your hands on even more advice, watch the full webinar here.
1. How Should We Start Collecting Employee Stories?
Getting the ball rolling can be intimidating, so start with a small group of employees as a pilot program of sorts. That will give you a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t—before rolling the program out to your entire company.
When figuring out which employees are best to start with, ask yourself a couple of straightforward questions to target the areas that really need your attention:
- Where is your most acute recurring need? For example, if you’re trying to hire tech talent, source these types of stories first!
- Which stories need to get out there immediately to recruit the talent you need?
- What areas of the business get the least exposure, yet are really an important part of your brand?
Once you get started with a few employee stories under your belt, you’ll have ironed out any kinks and also have a greater understanding of the best way to move forward with the rest of your employees.
2. Who Should We Source Stories From?
While that targeted pilot program is a good way to get things going, eventually you do need to open things up to all of your employees—yes, all of your employees.
Employee storytelling shouldn’t be something that you strongarm your team into. It should always be an opt-in activity.
However, it’s important that you give any and all team members the chance to participate if they’re interested. If there’s one thing you’ll quickly realize, it’s that you never can tell where the best stories will come from. By opening the dialogue to all employees, you’ll get a more accurate view of the employee experience from your entire company.
Sometimes it’s the introverts or perceived wallflowers of the company who will voluntarily come forward with the narratives that really strike a chord. You’ll be surprised.
3. How Do We Get Employees to Tell Their Best Stories?
You’re hopeful that your employees will have some really compelling and engaging stories to share. But, how do you give them the space and encouragement to make themselves vulnerable and actually share those?
The secret is relatively simple: You need to make your employees feel safe.
Again, a big part of that is making storytelling an opt-in activity so that employees don’t feel forced or pressured into participating—they only have to do so if they want to.
Another helpful exercise is to have your organization’s leaders do those same storytelling activities. When people see the higher-ups within your company putting themselves out there, they’ll feel much more comfortable doing that same thing themselves.
4. How Can We Implement Storytelling Without Sounding Fake?
When it comes to effective employee storytelling, you’ll hear this word crop up again and again: authenticity. In the end, those stories don’t amount to anything if they aren’t honest. So, sounding fake, overly promotional, or unrealistically bright and shiny is a legitimate concern.
You want to present the best picture of your employer brand—while still being authentic.
The important thing to remember is that employer branding is about brand consistency, and not control. While your employees might require a little bit of prompting in order to be reminded of what they love about working for your company, you need to give them the breathing room to customize their messages and put their own spin on them.
Resist the urge to give everyone those copy-and-paste, boilerplate brand statements. That’s a surefire way to come across as disingenuous.
5. How Can We Encourage Employees to Share Their Stories Elsewhere?
In the age of social media and sites like Glassdoor, you understandably want your current employees advocating for your brand outside the four walls of your office. But, encouraging them to do so in a way that doesn’t seem pushy can present a unique challenge.
The secret lies in reminding your employees of the fact that their singular voices can make a big difference in how the company is portrayed to others.
Again, this isn’t an area where you can exercise force—when authenticity is key, sharing needs to be something that they feel compelled to do on their own.
With that said, there’s no shame in reminding them that sharing their stories with others is an option, and that they’re always encouraged to do so.
6. How Do We Measure the Impact of Our Storytelling?
As with any company initiative, you want to know what success looks like. That can feel cumbersome. But, in the case of employee storytelling, it boils down to looking at things like:
- Are people opting to share their stories?
- Do they want to join an employee advocacy group?
- How else are they willing to advocate? Through blog posts, campus recruiting, or speaking on panels?
- Will employees recruit their co-workers to help in this storytelling initiative?
Questions like those help you to accurately gauge how invested and engaged your employees are in sharing their own stories. Ultimately, that tells you everything you need to know.
Employee stories are such a helpful asset for shaping employer branding and attracting the talent that’s best suited to your company’s unique culture—and, getting started isn’t as overwhelming as you might initially think.
We’ve covered a lot here, but there’s so much more to learn about how you can leverage your employees’ amazing stories to your advantage. Ready to roll up your sleeves and get started? Take the first step by watching the full webinar here.
Photo of person smiling courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author