Brand ambassadors are loyal enthusiasts who love your product, see your vision and are eager to spread the word to everyone they know. Oftentimes, companies turn to their customers to be their advocates, but I believe the most valuable brand ambassadors you have are those closest to you—your employees. At my agency Tote + Pears, brand advocacy and employee appreciation ideas are built into our process.
We are a woman-focused business, committed to qualities like empathy and inclusion. We lead with character and create a caring environment in which to thrive. We are very honest throughout the interview process and in our marketing material because we want our employees to resonate with our core values from the start.
Hiring people who believe in your mission can lead to your employees becoming brand ambassadors organically. You've already created a space where they feel valued and fulfilled the moment they join the team because they care about the work they do.
Adding these following employee appreciation ideas to the mix doesn't hurt, either.
1. Include them in the process.
Being direct and open is an employee appreciation idea that makes the people on your team feel included. Share your vision document and goals to give employees insights into what you want the business to accomplish. Provide frequent updates to help them understand business metrics and how the work they're doing aligns with your collective goals.
For example, I provide each member of our team with a 1:1 deep dive in which I walk them through our background, mission, vision and business plan.
I tell them our story—how we got here and what drives us—and ask them to share their journeys. Communicating with your team in an honest, integrated way fosters ownership and pride in the business and inspires employees to become brand ambassadors.
2. Invest in their development.
When people are put in a position to be their best selves, they're happier and happy employees make the best brand advocates.
An employee appreciation idea that may be worth considering is showing that you value your team by investing in them personally and professionally.
One way to do so is by creating a personal plan to help ensure that your employees are growing. You can:
1. Make a goals folder for each of your employees.
2. Capture their goals and track their progress.
3. Meet frequently to talk about their development and grade yourself on how close you are to getting them to their goals.
Knowing that you care about their progress helps gain employees' trust and support. The more you can contribute to their growth, the better they'll do. They may even be more interested in learning how to become brand ambassadors.
3. Give them ownership.
If you run a remote business like I do, it doesn't matter how or where the work gets done as long as your team meets deadlines and goals. Steer away from micromanaging and empower your employees to own their schedules.
It can be helpful to see yourself as a coach. You've witnessed what your team is capable of: If they are putting in the work, it is your job to help them move forward and get it done the best way possible.
In doing so, they learn how to become brand ambassadors through engaging with the work meaningfully and on their terms.
4. Respect their needs.
Your team wants to feel like they can trust you. One of the best ways to do that is by keeping your word. I used to work for a company that notoriously paid late. The check would get lost in the mail or delayed, and the owners would dismiss it without realizing that the majority of their team lived paycheck to paycheck.
Make it a point to take care of your team by being reliable and paying them on time. Recognize that they have a life outside of work and do your best to support them by respecting their time, pocketbook and need for flexibility.
5. Tell them you appreciate them.
The power of words of gratitude is immense.
Knowing that you care about their progress helps gain employees' trust and support. The more you can contribute to their growth, the better they'll do.
Consider telling the people on your team that you appreciate them and doing so often. Every time they do something wonderful, tell them. And even when they don't do anything at all, tell them that you appreciate them.
Frequent acknowledgment of a person, their hard work and their skills encourages employees to become brand ambassadors.
6. Send snail mail.
Because we have a remote team, I like to send them treats in the mail. It could be a piece of collateral or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. It's always something physical and it's always a surprise. Sometimes, the little things go a long way toward making your employees feel appreciated.
There is no one trick to transforming employees into brand ambassadors, but building employee appreciation ideas into your business ensures you treat people like the intelligent, competent and caring people they are. In turn, you can develop a team that is inherently proud to advocate for your brand.
Read more articles on employee retention.
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