The growing importance of content marketing in business communication makes highlights the fact that employee engagement is not just a thankless task to keep your HR manager awake. In the digital age when content increasingly replaces an army or sales reps to build a robust sales pipeline, employee engagement is synonymous with internal marketing and brand evangelism.

Whether your business is fully digital or getting there, or mostly a ‘live act’, there are only two important assets it has: good employees and good customers. And they need to know each other.

Sound understanding of the ideal customer, i.e. the buyer, is essential for effective marketing effort that in turn, leads to consistent sales. It is critical that every Leader and every employee understand, internalise and own the Buyer Persona Profile.  Never has being on the same page been more important in business. That shared understanding of the customer will ensure that everyone in the Business can focus their work to deliver the Brand promise to this very real archetypal person. This profile must be revisited and updated on a regular basis.

Engagement is a spoken promise and mutual commitment. There are no free rides in a relationship. Engagement is a mutual understanding of a caring, purposeful and equitably shared commitment of a long-term journey. They still may want to move onto a different stage in life one day, but the role of a Leader is to ensure that they don’t get swept off their feet by a better offer. The important thing is that they base the relationship on mutual respect and meeting mutual needs. And you may need to work hard on understanding those needs.

Why Business Leaders Must Win Employee engagement

#1: Basic human psychology

According to research by Gallup actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues along the way.

Gallup estimates that within the U.S. workforce this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone. You may be familiar with the ‘go slow’ mentality? People seem to play by the rules, but rules can be interpreted, and following them can to the letter may be as damaging as breaking them.

In stark contrast, world-class organizations with an engagement ratio of 8:1 have built a sustainable model that allows them to innovate and build brands people love to be part of. The world’s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives performance outcomes. In the best organizations, engagement is more than a human resources initiative. It is a strategic foundation for the way they do business.

Research by Gallup and others show that engaged employees are more productive. Employees, who are “engaged,” are usually more involved and more enthusiastic about their work. They are actively contributing to their organization’s success. They are more profitable, customer-focused, safer, and more likely to withstand temptations to leave, which alone is a significant cost saving. The best-performing companies know that an employee engagement improvement strategy linked to the achievement of corporate goals will help them win in the marketplace.

#2: Covid-19 Social Impact

We don’t know what will be the full impact of Covid-19 on business culture, work attitudes and engagement. The fact is that as businesses scrambled for survival by grasping at technology, everyone had to adapt to an alternative way of working, communication and collaboration.

Irrespective of cost to business and people’s livelihoods and mental pain the question arises: will we go back to the way it was before? While many of us are bursting to be among peers again and away from the 24-hour view of the kitchen sink, people have sampled the taste of freedom.

How will this affect employee engagement, customer relationships and loyalty? And what about hiring? Will the old practices of employee selection continue?

#3: What’s up with the choices companies make?

Before I answer this question, it’s important to look at Gallup’s research findings. The table below shows that the three top and ‘unofficial’ criteria used for hiring by larger  businesses, favour the least engaged potential employees:

  1. people with higher education,
  2. the most coveted age group, people in their prime 30-45, and…
  3. men.

How to align Brand evangelism with Employee Engagement?

Option 1: 3 Easy Steps

Based on InnoFuture’s extensive research and my personal experience in transforming the culture of a major national retail brand, I found that it can be as simple as taking three decisive, no-cost steps.

Every organization, especially a small to medium business, can easily implement these steps without major disruptions or costs. Potentially, you already have what it takes or, with a little help, you can start building a culture of engagement, productivity and innovation.

Importantly, every functional leader can apply these measures to their own department to get things done on a micro lever for your internal customers.