Engaging and recognizing employees an an integral part of your small business's team will empower them to strengthen the brand, regardless of their job description. Combine that with internal marketing—promotion of the company’s vision, values and brand to employees—and your company will be able to offer a stronger brand experience to your external customers and prospects.
Why Do You Need Internal Marketing?
According to Metlife’s 10th Annual Survey of Employee Benefits, Trends and Attitudes, the average company loses anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of its employee base each year. This makes retention even more of a priority during the economic recovery and beyond.
As a professional speaker and consultant on marketing, branding and customer orientation, I encourage small business and corporate professionals to work on their internal markets. Their organizations’ internal customer service and employee engagement are directly related to their external customer service and overall brand experience. With this in mind, here are three key benefits small businesses can gain by building a better relationship with their employees:
1. Higher employee satisfaction, retention and engagement.
In its 2012 Workforce Retention Survey, the American Psychological Association says that 67 percent of employees stay in their current jobs because they enjoy the work. Happy employees make committed team members and typically stick around longer.
In addition, employee satisfaction leads to employee engagement, which leads to more satisfied customers with an organization’s products, says Dr. James Oakley of Purdue University in his recent study.
Try these tips:
- Conduct internal focus groups and surveys. They help understand employees’ professional and social needs at work. Elicit their ideas for improved collaboration and engagement. When they have a say, they’ll own the results.
- Hold internal contests and promotions. Events like this reinforce company’s vision, values and brand. Give out company promo products, gift certificates or special privileges. When you make the workplace fun, employees are more engaged.
2. Increased cooperation, cohesion, and trust across departments.
When management or small-business owners engage with employees regularly, and collaboration crosses functions and departments, there’s a stronger sense of team and trust.
Try these tips:
- Encourage and expect collaboration. A free flow of information will become a part of the company’s culture. Open communication and shared problem solving contribute to a holistic work environment focused on customers.
- Hold regular meetings, some in town-hall style. These will consider employees’ input and feedback before things have a chance to fester. Give them opportunities to set the agenda and share the chairing.
3. Valued employees with a stronger customer orientation.
Employees who feel appreciated and valued will be more motivated to serve external customers with a stronger customer orientation and positive brand experiences. A recent Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study shows that 78 percent of employees cited recognition as the main motivating factor in their careers.
Try these tips:
- Invest in an employee rewards and recognition program. This can include low-cost and no-cost rewards that employees value such as paid time off, gifts, shout-outs and tokens of appreciation.
- Invest in employee training and development. Employees appreciate professional development opportunities that can improve their skills and help them further their careers, even within their existing companies.
When small businesses honor and value their employees and build a culture of collaboration, engagement and recognition, they can strengthen their brands with both internal and external customers and prospects.
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OPEN Cardmember Elaine Fogel is a professional speaker, writer, marketing consultant, and brand evangelist whose agency, Solutions Marketing & Consulting works with small businesses and nonprofit organizations across North America.
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