What Employees Say About What Matters in the Workplace

For insight on employee engagement, check out the 2014 Employees’ Choice Awards of the Best Places to Work recently announced by Glassdoor. These awards “are determined using feedback employees have shared on Glassdoor throughout the past year. Employees complete an anonymous company review survey that captures their overall job and company satisfaction, along with sentiment toward career opportunities, compensation & benefits, work-life balance, senior leadership and more.

Glassdoor is a site that provides employees a safe place to share their views. To avoid being a venting site for disgruntled employees, Glassdoor provides guidelines to encourage balanced content rather than singularly negative feedback. In addition, the site attracts job seekers with job listings and company information that includes voluntary feedback from former employees, current employees, and job candidates going through the interviewing and hiring process.

Besides appealing to employees and job candidates, Glassdoor’s site can also be a great resource for employers. Here’s why:

For better understanding employee engagement

Glassdoor’s best-places-to-work list shares employee feedback (pro and con) about the workplace. I recommend it to employers who want to improve employee engagement and don’t know where to begin. They can find information and comments about the award winners to learn what general practices employees consider important and then adapt and/or apply their findings in their own company engagement surveys.

For better understanding your employer brand

HR and marketing professionals can look for their company’s profile on Glassdoor’s site to learn what current and prospective employees are candidly saying about their company’s internal brand. Think of it as a centralized listening post for employee feedback on the workplace – maybe even your own company’s workplace. Don’t you want to know what your employees and prospects are telling others about you?



Engagement Marketing

Favorite Quotes on the Employee Engagement and Brand Connection

It’s a fairly simple equation – as hotelier Bill Marriott once said, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers.”

Here are more of my favorite quotes about the employee engagement and brand connection:

“More than any other communications medium, employees can breathe life, vitality, and personality into the brand.”  Leonard L. Berry and A. Parasuraman, Marketing Services

“Brands are built from within … [they] have very little to do with promises made through advertising. They’re all about promises met by employees.”  Ian Buckingham

“The only reason your business is successful is because every interaction between employees and customers is positive. This only happens when employees are treated super well.”  Ann Rhoades

“Happiness in the workplace is a strategic advantage. Service comes from the heart, and people who feel cared for will care more.”  Hal G. Rosenbluth, The Customer Comes Second

“Over time, as we focused more and more on our culture, we ultimately came to the realization that a company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand is just a lagging indicator of a company’s culture.”  Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

“If you begin your branding process by declaring an ‘aspirational brand’ without aligning it with the reality of employees’ daily work experience, you are in danger of writing a check your culture can’t cash.”  Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, Re-Engage

Whose words of inspiration on employee engagement and the brand do you like?
I welcome your favorite quotes on this topic.


Engaging Employees in Community Impact: Interview with Ryan Scott

I first learned about Ryan Scott from his blog post When Volunteers Become Voluntold. The term “voluntold” was new to me, but not the concept – it describes the oxymoron “mandatory volunteering” that many employees experience in the guise of corporate community involvement. I was once voluntold for a community fundraising effort by an employer and found the experience extremely frustrating. I read more of Ryan’s posts on his company’ Corporate Philanthropy & Volunteering Blog and discovered a kindred spirit with a passion for corporate community involvement and employee engagement.

We connected via email, and he graciously agreed to be interviewed here. Ryan is a technology entrepreneur who founded Causecast in 2007 to help companies harness their power to do good. He believes socially responsible companies can strengthen employee engagement through social engagement by involving employees in the company’s philanthropic efforts. However, when administrators are hampered by the cumbersome tracking of social campaign implementation and management, their philanthropic program may fall short. Causecast’s Community Impact Platform was developed in response as a centralized online solution to help companies better track and manage their giving and volunteer programs. According to Ryan, this platform “reinvents the possibilities around corporate philanthropy, enabling organizations to propel authentic grassroots momentum that captivates employees and the public alike.”

QSM: Why do you advocate corporate volunteerism as part of engagement? What does it mean for a company’s brand? 

Ryan: Employee engagement is a big concern for executives everywhere – in fact, one recent survey cited it as the top challenge for 2013. Many factors go into employee engagement, but research shows that one of them is social engagement – involving your company in purpose-filled work and getting your employees activated around that process. Not only does employee volunteerism and giving improve your brand internally – through increased employee retention, recruitment and engagement – it also helps your brand externally – through increased consumer trust and loyalty. Edelman’s Trust Barometer survey last year showed that the credibility of CEOs has plummeted, whereas the credibility of employees has risen. Never has it been more true that employees are your best brand ambassadors, and volunteerism gives them something meaningful to say and do that helps build authentic relationships with your community.

One company we just spoke with – Umpqua Bank – has an unheard of 93% participation rate in their volunteer program. They take their program very seriously, make it a priority from the top down and give employees one week a year to volunteer with organizations related to their cause focus. As a result, Umpqua’s compelling volunteer program has become a big boost to overall employee engagement.

QSM: What do successful companies do to get employee buy-in?

Ryan: Corporate volunteer programs are lifeless exercises in lip service without employee buy-in. A surefire way to drain any vitality from your program is to just set initiatives in motion on autopilot and assume that “if you build it they will come.” Actually, they won’t. Employees need to feel connected to the good citizenship your company is espousing, and they need to know that they play a role in setting the direction of that citizenship. After all, they’re your most important citizens.

So how do you get buy-in? Storytelling plays a big part – and I don’t mean storytelling from the top down. Companies that empower their employees to play a big role in charting their cause course and then encourage them to share their experiences with others do themselves a big favor in generating momentum with their program. That’s why our Community Impact Platform has social media capabilities built-in – to make it easy for employees to get the word out and get others engaged. When employees feel that they are drivers of change, and they can be public ambassadors of that change via an open forum of discussion about their experiences, the ingredients are there for a volunteer program with some real meat to it – the kind of program that generates impact for all involved.

QSM: How can a company maintain momentum with its employee volunteer program? What can a company do it keep it from becoming stale?

Ryan: I think you need to continuously find new ways for employees to get involved. Doing the same day of volunteering year after year is not only dull, it doesn’t allow you to build on your experiences or diversify your cause skills. That’s why Causecast offers numerous paths to impact, with ready-made campaigns like competitive corporate crowdfunding that gamify the challenge of fundraising to make it more fun and successful. Is your company engaged in disaster relief efforts after tragedies like Hurricane Sandy? Well how about expanding that to disaster preparedness, so that employees feel more connected to subsequent relief efforts and have the opportunity to become trained disaster relief volunteers who can help with hands-on work in times of crisis? There are so many different kind of volunteering opportunities to consider, and you’ll keep things fresh by staying plugged into the evolving thought leadership in this area and applying it to your own program.

We encourage our clients to map out a blueprint of their volunteer efforts throughout the year, so that we can fully leverage a calendar of volunteer opportunities and make them as meaningful and unique as possible – whether they’re theme-based (for holidays like Veterans Day) or strike deep into the heart of a company’s cause mission. The more you think ahead and put thought into the kinds of opportunities you’re presenting to your employees, the more resonant and interesting your program will be. The result will be increased participation rates, increased engagement around your company and increased impact for the cause at hand. Isn’t that what every company wants?

QSM: Thank you, Ryan!



“Share of Mind, Share of Heart” Book News

Nonprofit professionals, leaders and volunteers interested in Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits now have the option to purchase it in both print and electronic versions. In response to numerous requests, my latest book is available for purchase and download at Energize Inc.’s Bookstore. I’m honored that Energize, Inc., a valuable resource for ALL things related to volunteerism, has chosen to offer my book.

For those readers who prefer print, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits is conveniently available online through WME Books, and Amazon.

Engagement Marketing

Workplace Success Starts Here

A strong culture depends on leaders who strive for success from the inside out. They truly recognize and respect their employees and are diligent in engaging and partnering with them. Unfortunately, some CEOs only recognize their people as a “most valued asset” in the company’s annual report.

Note: Debra Semans and I will address how to build a strong workplace culture at the Internal Branding & Internal Marketing: Strategic Integration for Market Leadership program we’re presenting this week in San Francisco and again in Atlanta in February 2011.

“Companies that had a strong culture going into this terrible time over the last 18 months and companies that really do care for their employees are the ones that did much better through this difficult time.” 
Diana Oreck, VP-Ritz-Carlton Hotel Global Learning & Leadership Center,
Marketing News interview

Re-Engage authors Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld said it best:

“If you begin your branding process by declaring an ‘aspirational brand’ without aligning it with the reality of employees’ daily work experience, you are in danger of writing a check your culture can’t cash.”


Engagement Marketing

Internal Marketing – New Definition

Internal marketing is a critical management concept that is difficult to explain, let alone define. Throughout my work in the field, I’ve defined internal marketing simply as “the application of marketing inside an organization to instill customer-focused values.”

But now there’s a new, more comprehensive definition – thanks to the Fall 2005 graduate class in internal marketing, part of Northwestern University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.

“Internal Marketing is the ongoing process whereby an organization aligns, motivates and empowers employees at all functions and levels to consistently deliver a positive customer experience that helps achieve business objectives.”

What I love about this expanded definition is that it captures aspects of both internal marketing and internal branding. The new definition is a result of an Internal Marketing Best Practice Study funded by the Forum for People Performance Management & Measurement.

I’ll have more on this study in my next post.

Engagement Marketing

Organizational Culture: Assessment (Part 2)

My last post dealt with workplace courtesy and respect as part of organizational culture.

It reminds me of the time when I was fairly new to the working world. I remember hearing whispered references about certain managers and the sympathy given to new staff assigned to them:  “Too bad you have to work for that caustic s-o-b.”

This was the guy who would walk into the department without acknowledging anyone – no smile, no greeting – sharing only a scowl. Didn’t matter whether he passed one of his staff members, or a co-worker, or higher-up in the hallway (at least he was an equal opportunity s-o-b).

Maybe you’ve had the unfortunate experience to work with such a person, or know someone who has. So it should come as no surprise that research shows relationships with managers & co-workers impact overall job satisfaction.

The magic question

To assess the quality of your organization’s culture, all you need to do is ask one simple question: Would you refer a friend to work here?  It’s a loaded question, to be sure, but one whose answer will give you incredible insight into your firm’s culture.

More coming up in my next post …

Engagement Marketing

Got History? Part 3

To wrap up this series of posts, here are some ways you can plan & leverage your organization’s anniversary celebration, according to Phyllis Barr, founder of New York-based Corporate Culture Marketing by Barr Consulting Services.

Why Celebrate?

Start with why you should consider celebrating.  Phyllis suggests the following as sample objectives :

  • To enhance corporate or product identity
  • Rejuvenate an aging brand
  • Educate staff and stakeholders (including customers, investors, local community and/or the public-at-large)
  • Reinforce the corporate culture
  • Enhance donor awareness & fund raising efforts (for nonprofits).

How Should You Celebrate?

Consider how long you intend to celebrate:

  • on the day of the anniversary itself?
  • a week- or month-long commemoration?
  • throughout the year?

Then consider how you’ll celebrate; for example:

  • Special events – such as hosting an open house, customer and/or staff appreciation activities, etc.
  • Exhibit highlighting your organization’s history & memorabilia – can be off-line and/or on-line; for example, set up a traveling exhibit at schools, malls, trade shows, etc. (whatever is appropriate for your organization)
  • History documented in a special book, newsletter, and/or DVD
  • Special promotions and/or giveaways
  • Sponsorships – another great idea for nonprofits: link up with a local business that’s been in business for the same length of time to develop a joint celebration.

Phyllis laments that too many corporate histories tend to be “cut & dried” & put together in dull fashion, but they need not be that way.  You can be creative as your imagination & budget allow.

Also, you don’t have to do it alone – include oral history interviews with staff and customers.  (What a great way to recognize the folks who’ve been with you the longest!)  You can also solicit old photos and artifacts related to your organization.

Whatever you do to celebrate your organization’s history, make it meaningful and make it fun!

Engagement Marketing

Got History? Part 2

My last post introduced the concept of corporate & nonprofit anniversaries as a marketing tool.  Here are some actual examples of how organizations have celebrated their anniversaries, shared by “Corporate Memory Marketing” expert Phyllis Barr.

  • To celebrate its 150th anniversary, a popular magazine co-sponsored a special exhibit with one of its long-time advertisers.  The exhibit opened in the city where the magazine was headquartered (also one of the advertiser’s locations) and then toured the country.  The magazine also compiled a brief history handout for distribution.
  • A specialty toy company organized its archives and included oral history interviews with its executives and key staff.  They also shared historical notes on their phone system’s on-hold message.
  • In honor of its 285th anniversary, a church created its own museum with special exhibits tied-in with the history of the surrounding community; created a special lecture series; sponsored a historic pageant as part of its celebration; conducted historical walking tours; and published a book of its history (dating back to the American Revolution!).  Not only did these efforts result in increased awareness & media attention for the church, but its historic research was also used in the church’s building restoration.

Besides garnering great press and public exposure, all these organizations used their anniversaries to recognize staff contributions to their longevity & success … a great way to stimulate and reinforce employee pride.

Stay tuned for my next post which will feature tips from Phyllis on how to leverage your corporate or nonprofit anniversary celebration.

Engagement Marketing

Got History to Celebrate? They’re Not Just for Holidays!

Happy July 4th!

How does this holiday tie-in with internal marketing?  Glad you asked!

Independence Day is a festive holiday honoring a historic anniversary. But this type of anniversary need not be limited to a national celebration.

Phyllis Barr, founder of Corporate Culture Marketing by Barr Consulting Services in New York [], specializes in “corporate memory marketing.” She helps organizations document their corporate history and leverage anniversary celebrations as a marketing tool – good for public/community relations, brand reinforcement, nonprofit fund raising, employee/stakeholder relations, etc.

So a company’s heritage can be used for internal as well as external marketing purposes.  According to Phyllis, this history “makes up the corporate culture and affects how an organization and its brands are viewed.”

Corporate history needs to be shared – through staff training materials, orientation, on the intranet, etc. – to “make employees better and more knowledgeable” and reinforce pride in their affiliation with their employer.  In her work as a writer, researcher, historian, and marketer, Phyllis has found that sharing a company’s history adds to employee loyalty. And a company able to highlight its reputation through its history also has a great recruiting tool.

In my next post I’ll share some examples of how organizations have marked their anniversaries in meaningful ways.  In the meantime, enjoy this holiday weekend!