Is Better Employee Engagement the Solution to Hiring Woes?

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Engaged employees who become natural brand ambassadors are essential for hiring a successful workforce. When employees are engaged, they’re more committed to their employer and more likely to tell their friends about what’s going on at the company, according to a March survey by Sprout Social of 1,000 people.

Related: Employee Engagement Is More Important Than the Customer

Employers can better engage and encourage employees to advocate on their behalf. Here are some ideas:

1. Keep employees informed.

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Nearly three in four employees want their company to keep them updated about what’s happening with the brand, according to the aforementioned study. Employees who are kept informed will be more likely to share exciting news with others.

It’s important to establish a consistent way to keep employees informed about company and industry news. For example, develop a company newsletter to be emailed out monthly, or launch a blog for employees to follow, which publishes the most recent news as it happens. Another option is to implement an internal social platform like Yammer or Slack to allow employees to keep one other up to date.

2. Encourage employees to get social.

Workers who use social media are a powerful recruitment tool. In fact, 44.5 percent of people say they are more likely to apply for a job if they have seen a friend post about the position on social media rather than through other means, according to the Sprout Social study.

The study also found that 77.3 percent of people surveyed said they didn't feel encouraged to share company news on social media -- and that's a problem: Clearly, there is a disconnect in motivating employees to get social.

One way to encourage social advocacy is to collect employee stories and promote them on the company’s social platforms. This can be achieved using an engagement and social recruitment tool like WeVue, which facilitates the collection of these stories.

Related: Poor Employee Engagement Is the Biggest Retail Fail of 2015

3. Recognize employees.

Recognition makes 86 percent of employees prouder and happier at work, according to a November 2015 study by Globoforce of 828 employees. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to refer friends to their employer.

It’s essential to recognize employees frequently, and in a variety of ways. Simply asking employees to be advocates can be a great way to show them they are important. Identify employees who go above and beyond and interview them for the company website or social media. Employees will feel valued because they were chosen to be featured, and the website will gain first-hand insights to highlight company culture.

Employees who feel valuable will be proud to work for your company, and then be more likely to refer other people to work for you.

4. Improve relationships.

In addition to recognizing employees for their work, it is also essential to value them as people. When employees think their employer cares about their health and well-being, they’re more likely to recommend their workplace to others.

Build stronger relationships with employees by spending more time with them one-on-one. Learn about their personal interests and goals, and help them identify new ways to succeed in their work. Taking the time to get to know employees will boost morale, and therefore increase engagement.

5. Reward employees for their advocacy.

Once employees start to refer others to the company, a great way to maintain momentum is to reward advocates. Rewards can be financial, like bonuses, but they don’t have to be.

Related: For True Employee Engagement, Follow These 6 Steps

Often it’s more impactful to award experiences to winners of referral contests, such as extra vacation days, an exciting trip or an outing or lunch with an executive. Google, for example, switched from offering cash rewards to experiences. The company found the program was 28 percent more fun, 28 percent more memorable and 15 percent more thoughtful than their previous cash reward program, according to a July 2015 article on LinkedIn.