July 27, 2022 • 3 min read
Authentic Employee Stories Bring (And Keep) Great Talent on Board
Your EVP is quite a different beast to your product and service branding. Your EVP has to deliver on a subject with much higher stakes – the ‘self’ – in a society that reinforces that much of our identity and wellbeing is connected to the value we produce.
Thus, a job with your company needs to present itself as an opportunity for a candidate to become what they want to be, or reinforce who they already are. Your EVP touches upon self-realisation and people’s deeper needs (i.e. providing for their lifestyle, family and future, wanting to be seen as a high value individual) so it follows that your existing employees are the best demonstration of how well you can deliver on the promises.
Their voices are the key to bringing your employer brand to life, and they have to be authentic for their message to really work.
Connecting the abstract to the concrete
Consumer behaviour has changed drastically in the last few decades. We have unprecedented access to information, so we’re all more savvy and suspicious of any outright attempts to sell us something. We don’t want to be sold anything; we want to make the decision to buy something by ourselves.
This is why influencer marketing has exploded in popularity and efficacy. It’s indirect selling of a product or service that can bypass our barriers and deliver the pitch directly to our monkey brains. In this vein, ‘employee advocacy’ works in the same way. It’s akin to influencer marketing because it bypasses our scepticism and goes straight into our heads.
Employee testimonials are like the oracles of the EVP: they’re the connection between the abstract and the concrete.
Step one: Capture authentic employee stories
From a tactical perspective, the only thing the EB team needs to do is listen to the employees; sentiments and stories exist in all organisations, it’s just up to the EB team to uncover them.
Directly asking the employees to share can be hugely beneficial as you are getting what you need straight from the source. There are different tools to facilitate this process but the most important is the psychological safety that needs to exist for the employee to come forward, and the social recognition that comes afterwards.
My recommendation is to create an environment where the employee feels completely comfortable sharing their experience, and then capture their story in as raw form as possible.
Step two: Distinguish between ‘authentic’ and ‘over-branded’
It is important to understand that any content created today for EB purposes is not competing only with content from other organisations, but with all types of content. We live in a world flooded with marketing material and it all can start to blend together and lose individuality.
As such, in an EB context, there’s a fine balance between creating branded material and realising the individual voices of employees. Companies that over-brand their employee content miss the point – it comes off as a commodity and it’s less effective.
In fact, highly polished corporate content is increasingly proven to be outperformed by rough around the edge’s material. The reason is that authenticity cuts through the noise. An authentic voice can bring the uniqueness of an experience to the forefront and package it in a way that enables the messaging without corporate filtering. It ceases to appear as a commodity and becomes a novelty instead.
Step three: Showcase these stories as a part of your employer brand
The method of delivery varies widely depending on the target audience and the stories themselves; some are great for long, in-depth blog posts, while others are better suited to video format.
Currently, short video content is the reigning king of reach and engagement. One only needs to see the numbers of active users and hours spent on TikTok to see how this trend continues to evolve.
The stories we tell about our organisation are a fundamental part of creating a thriving company culture. It emphasises who we are as people, what we value and what behaviours we expect.
Sure, retaining talent has a lot to do with proper financial compensation, but there is undeniably a strong element of self-identification too.
By sourcing and leveraging authentic employee stories, you actively shape your company’s culture and as a result, have a direct impact on the retention of its employees. Great talent will remain in an organisation, even in the face of the best of monetary offers, if they see themselves as part of something that makes them the person they want to be.