As society continues to be more socially conscious, greater strides have been made to boost initiatives that improve the world from a culture and climate perspective. This heightened sense of moral awareness made a natural progression into the business world as employees, consumers and communities hold companies to higher standards and demand accountability in various areas of business operations.
Fueled by the pandemic and “Great Resignation,” the movement quickly swept across corporate America, taking many companies by storm and laying the foundation for a new era of employee engagement. As a result, one of the most important trends emerging in the post-pandemic workplace is employee advocacy in response to specific societal events or company policies and practices.
While employee advocacy initially impacted larger organizations, it has become a significant factor for smaller companies as they compete for talent and appeal to workers with strong belief systems. Below are three ways small businesses can focus on employee advocacy.
Address mission and core values
Small business owners should develop or refine a mission statement and list of core values that capture their vision for the company, embody their principles and connect the company’s efforts to a greater purpose in the world. A company’s beliefs and value systems are top of mind for younger generations that have expressed a strong desire to align themselves with like-minded companies.
A company’s mission and core values should set the stage for creating an environment that encourages mutual trust between the company and its people, enables a high level of employee engagement and facilitates effective team collaboration that leads to long-term success.
When small companies weave their mission and values into their DNA, impacting all aspects of the business – including recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training – they will grab the attention of potential candidates and build stronger relationships with existing employees.
Exhibit social responsibility
One way for small businesses to make an impact that appeals to employee advocacy is by creating initiatives that bolster corporate social responsibility (CSR). Employees want to associate themselves with companies that make a difference in the community, so it befits leaders to implement or expand CSR programs. While there are a variety of potential areas to focus on regarding CSR, small business owners should first identify the key areas that resonate with their business, employees and clients with endeavors such as volunteer opportunities, corporate donation programs and conservation efforts.
Display core values
It is always important for business owners to demonstrate company values through daily interactions, programs and activities, providing evidence that efforts to support employee advocacy are alive and well. Some examples include conducting ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training in the workplace to raise awareness and institute behavioral change, ensuring a diverse hiring panel and slate of candidates during recruiting efforts, offering paid time to volunteer in the community to make a difference in the lives of others, displaying care and empathy by taking the time to listen to employee needs and concerns, and creating a recognition program that rewards employees who model certain company values. Small businesses can also highlight DEI stances on websites and in recruiting materials to ensure potential hires are aware of their efforts to remain relevant and make a difference for everyone in the workforce.
When small business owners identify ways to focus on employee advocacy, they are not only sending a clear message to the workforce that they care about people’s needs and desires, but they are also boosting their reputation in the community as good neighbors.
Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.