Proper planning is the easiest way to improve the efficiency of your campaign, program, or project. It’s imperative that you develop a clear strategy so that everyone involves understands precisely what they are doing, and what business outcomes they are working toward. In short, “Here’s what we are doing, here’s why it’s important”.
That’s why I love the reason for the creation of the GE employee brand ambassador program; because it was created to solve a specific problem the brand was facing. The brand found that it was having difficulty recruiting for open positions. GE determined that a big part of the problem was a negative brand perception. Applicants viewed GE as a sort of monolith corporate entity, and employees weren’t very active online and weren’t doing a very effective job of telling the brand’s story. In short, applicants didn’t understand why they should want to work at GE.
What is an employee brand ambassador program?
Before we discuss what GE did, let’s define an employee brand ambassador program:
An employee brand ambassador program is similar to a brand ambassador program for customers, but instead, it focuses on the brand’s employees. The employees are the ambassadors, and they are given a way to connect with each other, as well as the brand’s management. Typically, employee brand ambassador programs are used as a way to give the employees the tools they need to better promote their brand to others, often via social media.
Here’s why GE decided to invest in an employee brand ambassador program:
A few reasons led us to create the brand ambassador program – like many change initiatives, they were rooted in limitations.
First, we had a $0 budget starting this adventure with GE. I looked around and asked ‘what do I have?’. One of the key assets we had was access was 350,000 colleagues around the globe.
The second challenge was our lack of polish in online profiles. I looked around at what our recruiters and hiring managers looked like online (not great). Many reacted with shocked expressions when I mentioned that candidates were doing their homework and googling them ahead of time. Connecting these dots for them helped set this initiative in motion.
Note that $0 starting budget. Unfortunately, this is a situation that brands, even global brands like GE, often find themselves in when launching a brand ambassador program. However, note that GE leveraged its employee brand ambassador program as an initiative to take what the brand was already doing, and make it better. The initial focus was on aiding HR in filling job applications more effectively. In short, GE was having to spend too much time trying to recruit employees, and it wanted to shift perception about and knowledge of the brand so that applicants were instead targeting the brand for employment. This would result in GE being more in demand among applicants, which would mean the hiring process would become easier, quicker and less expensive. Plus, the quality of the hires would improve.
Also note, since the core function of the GE employee brand ambassador program was to aid hiring, HR managers and talent acquisition was heavily involved from the start. HR managers were trained and then worked with employees to train them on how to improve their online profiles and how to better ‘humanize’ the brand:
We started with a small group of recruiters (that were in most need of help but also a group that I would call skeptics – I knew we would get all the feedback we needed). Then we incorporated their hiring managers. We held these sessions live and learned a LOT just from facial expressions. Of course there was no shortage of direct feedback as well.
We post-training surveyed through a quick online tool we have a GE. It included rankings for each part of the training as well as some open form fields for feedback. We maintained the same survey after the pilot to ensure data continuity/integrity and be sure we continued encouraging feedback. The open feedback helped us iterate and refine the training so it is highly tailored to our audience.
Also note that by having HR involved, it helps ensure the progress and growth of the employee brand ambassador program as a whole. But note in the above quote the importance on collecting and acting on feedback from both the HR managers and the employees they were training. This is vital to the success of any brand ambassador program, collecting and acting on feedback, whether the ambassadors are customers or employees.
So What Were the Results?
Within the first month of leveraging its trained employee ambassadors to better tell GE’s story, the brand saw an 800% increase in applicants. Additionally, what GE has found is that since its employee ambassadors are more engaged online, it’s creating organic engagement that’s eliminating the need for purchasing traditional advertising to support the initiative. In Q1, 2017, social amplification from GE’s employee ambassadors created engagement worth $3 Million for GE, which reduced the amount of money spent on traditional social advertising to support the campaign to $0. Remember, if you smartly structure and execute your ambassador program as GE did here, it should improve your existing business processes and save you money.
One Final Note
This employee brand ambassador program was a vehicle for GE to take control of the conversation happening about the GE brand, among job applicants. There were several misconceptions that job applicants had about GE as a workplace and employer, so GE empowered its employees to tell the brand’s story through relating their own experiences working for the brand. This greatly enhanced the brand’s reputation among job applicants, and made it easier for applicants to relate to the brand and see themselves working there.
The program worked for GE due to proper planning, and focusing on how an employee brand ambassador program could take what GE was already doing (hiring), and make it better.
Want to learn how your company can create an amazing employee brand ambassador program as GE did? Then email me today.