Why employees are a brand’s best influencers

When most people think of ‘influencers’, they are usually thinking about Instagram stars. This type of influencer is perfect for promoting a product that aligns with their online persona - but what about communicating the benefits of a business? How do you authentically promote the culture, ethics and values of your company?

The very best ‘influencers’ for a business are its employees, according to David Bernard, CEO of artificial intelligence firm AssessFirst. After all, what better brand advocates could there be than the people that work there?

The importance of personality

Employees who have been hired partly because they share the same values as a business can convey those values - and therefore the company - in a positive and authentic light. In this sense, staff become brand advocates and will boost brand awareness: supporting sales, customer engagement and even recruitment.

Bernard underlines the importance of creating a positive business culture to encourage advocacy and states that personality underpins this: “During recruitment, though the cognitive skillset of an individual is important, their personality should never be overlooked. If a candidate’s personality has a high affinity with their employer - and its values, mission and vision - then the candidate will incrementally represent and advocate for that firm.”

Fran Prince, head of communications at brand agency Champions (UK) plc, agrees that employees can - and should - become brand ambassadors via personality and culture led recruitment: “Not only is this a great way of generating word of mouth marketing, but with Gen X recently entering the workplace, more staff will be engaged with mental health and social issues - all of your firm’s good practises in these areas can be positively and authentically relayed by these employees.

“Particularly in the PR sector, where often burn-out can occur, it’s important that agencies and brands alike align their culture with their candidate as public relations experts could be the making of your word-of-mouth and social media marketing, therefore you want to get it right.”

Bernard explains why recruiters should also consider which information about a candidate is truly pertinent in the search for the ideal hire: “Company culture looks after itself with the right people on board. And with the right people on board, your company values are communicated beyond the workplace”

The benefits of a strong company culture

Great company culture boosts productivity. According to a recent report, happy employees are 31% more productive than less happy counterparts. What’s more, a happy and emotionally healthy workforce can drive positive brand engagement.

For example, Swedish fashion brand Lindex is renowned for its uplifting and encouraging culture. Supporting its staff through body positivity initiatives, Lindex launched an underwear campaign using those staff as the models. Because of this, brand advocacy is very high.

Similarly, Zoom is recognised for its culture that focuses on employee satisfaction and personality led recruitment. This comes as the firm takes the top spot as the company with the happiest employees for the second year in a row.

And, with research showing that 90% of Zoom Video Communications employees report happiness with their work-life balance, and 98% stating that they would call their work environment positive, Zoom’s cultural commitment to ‘deliver happiness’ mean its staff personify company culture.

Bernard comments: “A workplace culture that is centred around flexibility, collaboration and community is one that will achieve great success: attracting and retaining new team members.”

“And, as employees can be a business's biggest influencer, these are all things that should be considered and put into practice.”

Avoid the risk of clashing culture with personality

To maximise productivity, and extend organic brand advocacy, it is important for businesses and employees to work together towards the same goal.

Bernard explains the risks that businesses may face if their company culture isn’t reflected by the people that work there: “Culture and personality are so closely bound to one another that there is great risk in not having them aligned.

“Bad reviews, negative word of mouth marketing and lack of efficiency are put in jeopardy when employee personality and business culture aren’t aligned.”

Bernard concludes that companies must nurture individual personalities as part of a collective cultural alliance. This, he argues, is what creates the best influencers your business could hire - namely, its staff.

Written by Megan Mosley, writer at Champions UK plc