5 Key Pillars of Employee Advocacy: Part 4 of 5 Motivation

Once you have an employee advocacy programme up and running and your employees are sharing, how can you motivate them to keep sharing?

Here’s our 5 cardinal rules:

1. Don’t reward them

Sounds counter-intuitive? Maybe, but it’s the most important lesson to learn about motivation. Rewards only work on the short term, if that. They don’t motivate.

This is usually the first expectation our clients have: in order to share, employees will need to be rewarded. It’s not true.

Starwood Hotels Associate Director of Social Media and Search Marketing, Abbey Reider also provides the same advice. She suggests the less ‘quid pro quo’ the relationship, the more likely it will evolve organically, and become stronger over time.

In our experience, Abbey is absolutely right. There is a growing body of evidence that says that direct rewards don’t work in most cases. 

You need to look at motivating your employees another way.

2. Give them autonomy

There’s a significant body of research saying that if you give people more autonomy over their work they will work harder and achieve better results.

This is something we can all understand. We all know that feeling from some job in our past when we felt we had to look like we were working even if the job was done. Where we were being micromanaged or where we had to check with the boss every new idea we had before trying it.

Whereas, if we give people some autonomy over what they do they are more likely to do it and do it well and to want to come back do it again.

This applies to advocacy. Any advocacy programme must be built on trust.  Some companies are  fearful when it comes to encouraging their employees to start talking about them online. 

If you actually give them some freedom, don’t try to force them to engage in a particular way, they will surprise you. 

Our clients at Togethr have had great success with this approach.

3. Give them feedback

In a number of studies the single biggest motivator at work was found to be making progress in meaningful work

Rewards like pay and job title were important but not as important as making progress.

We all like to get better at stuff but knowing you are making progress depends on good feedback. 

This is where we come back to the idea of rewards. If they’re used as a way of showing an employee they’re making progress, it changes the game.

The only rewards that increase motivation in the long-term and those  deployed as a feedback device.

At Togethr, any ‘rewards’ provided to employees are always used based on helping them to learn, grow and make progress. We never reward an end result, only progress.

4. Give them purpose

Understanding ‘why’ employees take part – and continue to take part in your employee advocacy programme – is crucial for success. 

Ideally, employees should have:

  1. A purpose for the business which they want to support (this could be as simple as wanting to work together to help their organisation be successful).
  2. A purpose for themselves (for example to grow their skills in social media and their influence and relationship with customers. It could be something they might want for their CV).

We talk more about Purpose  here.

5. Make it easy for them

It feels like this shouldn’t need saying but it does. If you want employees to stay motivated, you have to make it easy for them to share content on a regular basis.

Motivation and ability can vary. Motivation can be quite unpredictable. Don’t think motivation will be a linear line, people’s behaviours change over time.

Your best bet in keeping employees engaged in your programme is to make it easy for them to do.

This doesn’t necessarily mean using an app or content sharing platform, but at the very least you need a shared space to converse and share prompts and ideas with your employees. More on this in our Content and Storytelling article.

Motivation is a huge topic – one we’ll return to in later blog articles – but that’s probably enough to get you started for now.

Our next Key Pillar of Employee Advocacy is Measurement.

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