Engaging from the Inside Out: How to Foster Employee Trust in Your Business

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Have you ever worked for a company where you felt as though the employees were the last to hear about anything, whether it was new branding, a new logo, tagline, ad campaign, etc.? It’s difficult to get on board with a change after the fact, and even more challenging to consistently represent a brand and its values to a customer (or others outside the company) when you don’t know the reason or thought process behind them. That’s why it’s so important to engage from the inside of a company out. It not only gets employees on the same page and gives them the knowledge they need to go out and communicate a brand and its values to others, it establishes trust, which is essential in any organization.

Research shows there’s a direct correlation between trust and corporate performance. Employees that trust in a company and its leadership tend to stay with the company longer and perform at a higher level. Conversely, employees who don’t trust their employer or its leaders are usually disengaged. According to Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” “Companies whose employees praise the high levels of trust in their workplace are, in fact, among the highest performers, beating the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three.”

When a company is introducing new branding and informing employees first before informing dealers, customers, and the industry, it can go a long way toward strengthening employee trust. The first step in conveying any change is to ensure that all leadership is on the same page, so that they may communicate a consistent message to employees. Sending conflicting, varied messages to employees will do the opposite and reduce trust levels.

Once leadership is unified and understands how the new branding is being communicated, it’s time to begin engaging employees. Employees are a company’s brand ambassadors. How well they understand and convey a brand’s message and values directly influences the success of that brand. When they trust in a company and are informed and engaged with its branding, vision, and business strategy, that trust and engagement are conveyed to customers and others in the industry.

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To engage employees with new branding, one must ask how that new branding connects to the different kinds of employees working at a company. Just as there are many customer personas, there are also many employee personas. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement, a company may choose to explain new branding in focused workshops with employees who work in similar roles. Leadership and marketing/branding partners can lead these workshops and help make the connection between what an employee does and what the company’s branding means to their role. That will give them the information they need to more accurately convey the branding in their interactions with the external world.

Internal marketing can also be used to engage employees with new branding. A microsite that’s accessible only to internal employees can include information about the new branding — whether it’s relating the story behind a new logo, explaining why a particular tagline was chosen, communicating the company’s elevator speech, or showing a new advertising campaign.

Another way to engage employees with new branding is through social media. A closed, invitation-only Facebook group can create internal two-way conversation about a company’s branding, advertising, strategy, and so on. Leadership can answer questions, respond to comments from employees, and post the latest information to keep them informed. In turn, employees will be energized and feel that they are a greater part of a company, its branding, and its future.

Internal marketing aligns employees with the strategy and goals of a company (as well as any new branding). It’s only when employees understand these elements that they can work toward common goals and represent their company in a consistent way. Alignment means customers also have a more consistent experience. If you think about some of the businesses you frequent on a regular basis, you can probably pick out which ones do a good job of engaging their employees, and which ones do not. When you’re treated consistently — no matter what employee is helping you — chances are that company is doing a good job of aligning employees with its overall branding, strategy, and goals.

With what companies invest in marketing and communicating their brand to customers, they should never overlook engaging their employees. Employees are the face and voice of a brand and play a critical role in successfully communicating it. Engaging from the inside of a company out means that employees have the knowledge they need to consistently represent a brand to customers — and, in addition, have greater levels of trust in their employer and its leadership. Win-win.

About The Author

Barry LaBov

Barry LaBov, a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and inductee into the Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame, is founder, president and CEO of LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training and is president of the board and a shareholder of Sycamore Hills Golf Club, both of Fort Wayne, Ind. LaBov & Beyond was founded in 1981 and has a client list that includes national and international brands in automotive, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, financial services, construction equipment, apparel and medical devices. LaBov has authored or co-authored more than a dozen business books, including The Umbrella Story series of business parables. LaBov has been published in national and international publications as well as appeared on CNBC and Fox Business channels. In addition to its Fort Wayne headquarters, LaBov & Beyond also has operations in Detroit, Phoenix and Indianapolis. His daily blog on business and leadership can be read at BarryLabov.Blogspot.com.

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