Essential employee engagement at B2B enterprises

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Brand and identity are dependent on employee engagement. That’s the take away from new research released by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, in partnership with CultureSphere and Executive Networks Inc.

The research highlights some interesting information about company buy-in and how it relates to brand identity and recognition. One goal of the report aimed to see how marketers and HR leaders can work to strengthen engagement with their employees socially, reflecting their organizational brand values and qualities.

The study, titled, “Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space” was announced on June 16. Input came from senior executives from various companies, including Comcast, Deloitte, Whole Foods Market, British American Tobacco, Mitel, CA Technologies, Opus Bank, WageWorks and The Walt Disney Company.

How are employees engaged?

Brand persona was viewed by 90 percent of those surveyed to be either “essential”, “very important” or “moderately valuable” to building strong relationships with customers and attracting new employees. Yet, just 62 percent of participants said their companies had a formal brand platform that defined “shared values, ethics and collective buy-in to a singular value proposition”, according to a press release issued by the CMO Council.

The research found 37 percent of respondents said they had a “well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced” by their organizations. Yet, over 50 percent of participants said they considered their brand to be well-reflected internally in their organizations.

Employee engagement has been considered to be a problem in many businesses. For instance, a 2013 global survey conducted by Gallup found just 13 percent of employees were engaged with their companies and noted “increasing engagement should be a strategic priority” by management in any organization. Many companies put efforts to attracting customers, but neglect their employees.

“Organizations have long struggled to instill shared values, behaviors and ethics that embody and validate brand platforms, personalities and promises,” notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council, in the agency’s press release. “A tighter linkage between the CMO and the CHRO should be strongly centered on organizational branding and creating cultures that radiate and reinforce core brand attributes and aspirations.

Adopting enterprise social technologies

One area organizations appear to be lacking in is real-time engagement with employees and partners on digital channels. These channels are ones believed to be able to help boost strong brand persona, both internally and externally.

Millenials currently make up about 50 percent of B2B researchers and social media is an important tool all companies should be using. As Forbes points out, many corporate communications takes place in email and intranets rather than “the social media platforms where your employees are actually “living”.”

“Big changes are underway in the make-up of the workforce and the requirements to satisfy younger, social media-minded and technically savvy workers,” says Mike Dulworth, President and CEO of Executive Networks Inc. “Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are entering the workplace in record numbers. They are idealistic, diverse, digitally enabled, social and perhaps most importantly, ambitious.”

Finding a formula for success

While the CMO study found most companies lag in using digital channels for real-time engagement with staff and partners, there are some companies finding levels of success.

Take IBM for example. A report earlier this year described an initiative on Instagram, the #ViewFromMyDesk photo series, which many employees across the globe participated sharing real-time glimpses of their daily lives at work. IBM cross-posts with other social media platforms and through this initiative successfully increased both engagement and brand visibility.

Increasing employee engagement socially brings other benefits:

  • Turns employees into brand supporters, increasing credibility
  • Increases motivation
  • Puts a “human face” on the organization to the world
  • Attracts top talent – what better appeal to job searchers than to see highly engaged and happy employees?

Informed, engaged and generally content employees can help any organization grow. Since B2Bs have longer sales cycles than B2Cs, if employees are not actively engaged it will be harder to attract clients and develop positive relationships with them. For B2Bs, if employees are unhappy and/or disengaged with the brand, this is likely to eventually impact performance, trickling down to affect productivity and profitability.

It appears many executives are beginning to realize the power and impact interactions on social platforms can have on employees. The CMO report highlighted about 50 percent of survey participants “would be interested in piloting or learning more about a social media platform for real-time, employee-inspired branding.”

The 52-page CMO Council report is available for download.

Image credit: Highways England

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Leigh Goessl

Leigh Goessl

Leigh Goessl has been writing on the web since 2007. She currently is a freelance writer and enjoys writing about business and tech topics. Leigh's previous work includes ghost writing for a a legal website, a major online college and an education website. Her education includes an MBA with a concentration in information security.