It’s no secret anymore that well-planned and longitudinal employee engagement programs rooted in a company’s brand are powerful and proven ways to inform and engage a company’s employees about their brand’s values. Internal employee communication programs can use multiple channels—from posters to emails to planned activities—to reinforce your brand messages among employees. Brand training programs can use gamification and guided role playing to help employees learn and practice the specific brand behaviors that will demonstrate the brand to customers and each other.
In a recent article entitled Engaging Employees Starts with Remembering What Your Company Stands For, published in the Harvard Business Review, consultant Denise Lee Yohn outlines the fundamentals for building a solid brand based employee engagement program. Her example of the program put into place at the MGM Grand organization demonstrates the powerful connection between employee engagement and financial returns. In her article, Yohn cites the research that Tenet uncovered which showed only a small percentage of employees who were surveyed knew their company’s brand values, and even fewer said that their company leaders communicated how employees should live brand values through their jobs.
After years of experience working with all types of companies, from manufacturers to service industries, Tenet has boiled down successful employee brand engagements to the most effective ways of insuring that employees will embrace the power they have to represent their brand. Internal communications can inform employees about the brand; behavioral training can engage employees to live the brand; and spotlighting those exemplary employees can inspire others to follow. These are the bedrock of any engagement program. But the single-most effective secret for to help employees to truly “be the brand”? Acting like an owner.
While on a tour of a Caterpillar manufacturing plant in Belgium, I came across an engineer carefully assembling a huge diesel engine. When asked why he was working so meticulously, he stopped for a moment, wiped his hands on a cloth and said, “If this engine fails in a piece of equipment, the contractor who bought it is out of work; the dealer who sold it must repair it at a loss; and the company’s brand reputation is diminished—all because of my failure to own my work!”
It’s not just for industrial companies. Banks are notorious for being impersonal and often not living up to their branding promises for customer service. But when a mortgage loan officer personally shepherds a customer through the entire loan process, responds promptly to every email question and sends a personal thank you note at the end of the loan—that’s taking ownership of the process and the brand.
Thinking like an owner of a brand not only means being responsible for an employee’s professional responsibilities, but also being emotionally and personally invested in the success of the brand and the organization through every interaction with customers and fellow employees.