To effectively implement an internal brand strategy that delivers increased engagement and performance, every person in your organisation needs to be bought in. They need to engage with your brand messages, embrace them as part of their day-to-day working life and embody your values in their behaviour while at work.
While ‘employer branding’ is certainly one of the buzzwords of the moment, research by Forbes found that only 30% of employees were confident that their company actually followed through on their employer brand commitments.
Power to the people
If your employees don’t resonate with your internal brand, if it doesn’t feel authentic to them, and if they don’t understand how it applies to their working lives, they won’t engage with your brand messages. This is when internal brand development falls flat and fails to deliver on its potential.
According to LinkedIn, 53% of companies said that if they had unlimited budgets, they would most like to invest in employer branding. And yet, almost 50% of employers don’t believe they have the tools to effectively enhance their employer brand.
This is where your people come in. They are your most powerful asset when it comes to your internal branding.
When your employees are personally invested and engaged in what you’re up to as an organisation, they are the ones who work to drive your business forward in alignment with your purpose.
In this blog, we look at how you can harness the power of your people, what you can do to empower employees to truly live your brand and drive lasting, cultural change in your organisation.
Acknowledge, appreciate and reward
Never underestimate the power of acknowledgement.
Acknowledgement can be defined as “recognition of the importance or quality of something” or as “the action of showing that one has noticed someone or something.”
When you take the time to acknowledge your people for engaging with and demonstrating your brand values – whether or not it includes some kind of rewards – they feel seen, appreciated and valued.
When employees don’t feel acknowledged, they feel disconnected and disempowered. One survey of 1700 workers found that 55% were planning to switch jobs, and a lack of recognition was the number one reason given.
Showing your acknowledgement and appreciation could be as simple as an email or text message when you notice something positive, or more public recognition given at a team meeting or on an internal communications platform.
You could even go one step further and publicly acknowledge employees on social media for the contribution they make to the organisation. Not only does this strengthen and enforce your internal brand, but it also reinforces your external brand.
A gesture as simple as a ‘thank you for doing a great job’ can be incredibly motivating. Aim to make peer-to-peer acknowledgement a habit, starting with your leadership teams. Then, others follow – and that’s when positive cultural change happens.
Bring your internal brand to life
For your internal brand to resonate with your employees and spark their interest and engagement, they not only need to see how your purpose and values apply directly to them and their role, but they also need to see brand values demonstrated by organisational leaders and decision-makers.
For example, if one of your core brand values involves promoting mental wellbeing and creating a culture of openness around mental health, you will want your internal brand and communications strategy to include activities and opportunities which align with this value.
These might be:
- Internal events for World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week
- Applying the same sickness policy to mental health as physical health
- Having permissible ‘duvet days’ each year for employees to practice self-care when needed
- Subsiding or providing opportunities for physical activity which promotes good mental health such as gym memberships and yoga classes
- Having a zero-tolerance policy for office bullying
- Training mental health first aiders and appointing mental health champions
- Including access to therapy as part of health insurance provision
- Allowing flexible working when employees are dealing with stressful live events such as moving house or divorce
- Providing opportunities for employees to volunteer with or support mental health charities
- Inviting external experts to talk to employees about their mental wellbeing
- Ensuring your employees are made aware of all these opportunities and encouraged to take part
Your internal branding will only be successful in promoting employee engagement and retention if you walk the walk and talk the talk.
To really see an impact from investment in your internal brand, it’s not enough to just provide your employees with tools and activities. Opportunities to engage with your brand need to be communicated effectively, in an inspiring way that empowers your people to take them up.
In the same way that you market your external brand to customers and clients, market your internal brand to your employees.
Track employee engagement
In their 2021 State of the Global Workplace Report, Gallup found that engaged employees deliver 23% higher profitability. And yet, a recent analysis by Gartner found that only 16% of employers are using technologies to monitor their employees' level of engagement.
If employee engagement is the goal of your internal brand strategy, it needs to be monitored like any other success metric across your organisation.
Some ways to measure employee engagement are:
- Employee participation in campaigns
- Reward uptake
- Annual employee surveys
- Regular pulse surveys
- Employee attendance at internal events
The most important thing is to foster two-way engagement with your people and provide them with plenty of opportunities to have their say and input into internal brand decisions which impact them.
According to Salesforce, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. That doesn’t just mean that they’re more productive, it also means they are working to drive the organisation forward, and contributing to a workplace culture that works for everyone.