Today’s candidates are seeking out authentic, honest answers to their granular, role-specific and sometimes sensitive questions about potentially working at your company — and employee generated content (EGC) can provide the answers they seek (and trust). It means that unfiltered EGC is no longer an optional recruitment strategy, it’s an essential one.
While the idea of allowing employees to answer candidates’ questions directly in an unfiltered way may seem a bit scary, the reality is that it’s already happening on review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, as well as across their personal networks. But without any support or guidance from you, the content employees share on their own may not always be the most helpful to candidates wanting answers to specific questions about your organization.
There are new strategies available that can empower your employees to continue sharing while being as helpful as possible to candidates without you getting in the way of employees’ authentic voices. In this blog post, we’ve put together 3 recommendations for using these strategies to create a thriving employee advocacy program.
Rally note: Want to learn even more about how to use EGC to support your talent acquisition and Recruitment Marketing strategy? Check out our ideabook: The Future of Employee Generated Content.
1. Create a platform for permission
In many cases, when it comes to encouraging employees to share about your organization, the challenge usually isn’t that employees don’t want to offer their experience with candidates, rather employees may be worried about what they can and can’t say.
Unless you’re in a regulated industry, it’s not necessary to try to control employee generated content in this way. In fact, investment company Vanguard proved that even if you do operate in a regulated industry, you can still launch a successful employee advocacy program while protecting the company and your employer brand.
Regulated or otherwise, the biggest driver behind a successful employee advocacy program is a permissive environment. This means viewing your employee advocacy program as a platform for permission that enables employees to engage directly with candidates — with guidelines and pre-approved, shareable assets if need be — without crossing the line of telling them what they can and can’t say.
Putting this into practice
One way to create a permissive environment is to enlist your leadership to lead by example in publicly engaging with candidates. You can start by reaching out to leaders with a strong social media presence already and encourage them to share their own experiences with their network. Give them some candidate questions to start with. After a few successful posts, you’ll have solid examples that can encourage other leaders to join in.
When employees see their leaders actively answering candidates’ questions and engaging on social media, not only will they be more empowered to do the same, but they can also look to their answers to guide their own communications with candidates.
Another aspect of employee advocacy is content sharing, which can come with its own set of permissive roadblocks. You can use an employee advocacy management platform with pre-populated content that employees can share. This way, employees don’t have to go through the trouble of creating content from scratch, and they’re sharing content that’s already approved but that gives them the flexibility to add their own voice.
And whenever employees share stellar content, make sure to reward them! This can be as simple as a shoutout on Slack or Microsoft Teams, the company newsletter or during an all-hands call. You can even gamify the process with the help of an advocacy tool through leaderboards or prizes for top contributors. However you do it, recognizing and rewarding employee sharing helps create an environment where employees feel empowered to share.
2. Prepare your employees to answer tough questions
When employees start to face candidates head-on, they’re inevitably going to have to field specific and challenging questions that might be beyond their depth. This might include questions like:
- How does your organization support LGBTQ+ team members at work?
- What happens if I need to change my shift at the last minute?
- What type of experience did you have before you got your current job?
- What type of interview questions did you get?
To help them answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible, make sure your employees have access to the support and resources they need. Time-to-answer is important here, because the longer you wait to answer, the more disengaged your employees and your company may appear.
Putting this into practice
For questions outside the scope of your employees’ experience, a cheat sheet or “wiki” with information about company operations or policies can be a lifesaver. A dedicated Slack channel where employees can ask their questions can also be helpful, especially if other employees or you or your team are actively engaged so you jump in quickly with guidance.
You might also consider technology platforms that enable employees to answer candidate questions on your careers site and social channels through online chat and video. These platforms track trending questions and candidate engagement to inform what new content you and your employees should create to support your recruiting strategy going forward.
3. Encourage your employees to speak authentically about the good, the bad and the ugly
The main reason why EGC resonates so well with candidates is its authenticity, as it cuts out any perception of corporate interference and shows honest, everyday truths from the perspective of real employees. But authenticity requires a balance; to seem trustworthy, EGC has to address both the positives and negatives about your company.
While your employees should speak to all the great reasons to work at your organization, they should also paint an authentic picture about the tradeoffs and the true reality — complete with the challenges — of what it’s like to be an employee at your company. This is especially true if it takes certain experiences, skills or traits to be successful in that job, as incompatibility isn’t good for anyone.
If the idea of broadcasting your company’s challenges seems intimidating, think of it this way: candidates are almost certainly aware of the challenges that exist already, and addressing them yourself is a lot better than allowing candidates to form their own narrative from information elsewhere.
Putting this into practice
Emphasizing in your training and communications with employees that it’s okay to speak unfiltered with candidates is key here (remember: create a platform of permission). Give employees examples of topics they shouldn’t be afraid to address. Often, just putting the topics and questions on the table gives employees the confidence that they’re allowed and encouraged to respond.
You can also use a social listening tool to find uses of your #lifeat hashtag and posts that mention your company, and amplify EGC that constructively shows those truths. For example, if you find a post addressing a lack of DEI at your workplace, you can reshare it with a caption describing any programs or initiatives you have planned to improve the state of DEI at your workplace. These types of actions will bring greater credibility to your employer brand overall.
By following these 3 recommendations, we hope that you can better use employee generated content for your employer brand and talent attraction efforts, and see higher-quality hires as a result.
For even more insights on how to empower and leverage employee generated content, be sure to read our full ideabook: The Future of Employee Generated Content!