Summer workers as employee advocates

This year, one of the talking points in the recruitment sector has been employee advocacy. 

The past few years have been tough for recruiters. In many companies, the door has been open for those leaving rather than for those entering. When recruitment is mentioned in the news, it is usually in unfavourable terms, and recruitment budgets have been cut. This used to automatically mean that it wasn’t considered as important for employers to build an image, but things are changing.

This year, one of the talking points in the recruitment sector has been employee advocacy, which means involving the staff in building an employer image. This has been done before, of course, but with the emergence of social media, sharing, recommending and storytelling have become hugely important.

Companies have come to realise that their image as an employer is not built by investing large amounts of money in shiny campaigns, but rather by using their employees to share information about their jobs as well as the environment and atmosphere within the company. Now is the time to invest in building an employer image; this will then ensure that the company will be in a strong position among applicants in future.

With the summer approaching, and having discussed how companies could collaborate with educational institutions and build their employer image among students, I would like to summarise some of my ideas on how to get summer workers involved in employee advocacy. I believe this is an invaluable opportunity to reach young target groups with a critical view of media, using their language and the channels that appeal to them.

Instructions, possibilities, encouragement

The first question is whether to select advocates from among summer workers who are well versed in social media, or whether to involve all summer workers. If everyone is included, instructions and rules should be covered during the induction. If only some are selected, it is would be a good idea to arrange a workshop where, in addition to being given instructions, the participants could throw ideas around. It is good for everyone to have their ideas challenged by fresh views.

The instructions should emphasise the company’s values and brand, as well as what the brand is supposed to communicate. Another perspective to consider is the tone of voice that the brand should have: playful with a bit a humour or serious as an expert. It may also be necessary to draw clear boundaries since not everything can be recorded and shared.

The channels that are used for sharing should also be discussed. Prepare to define which hashtags will be used. An example of a brilliant hashtag is Yle’s #ylemme, which translates as ‘our Yle’. However, I would not recommend making the instructions too restrictive, because this could easily result in messages that are contrived and boring. The instructions should draw the boundaries of an area where creativity is allowed to flourish freely.

Although the majority of young people have smartphones, the company should consider whether it is worth making a small investment towards camera phones, digital cameras or tablets. There is no need to buy a device for each summer worker; they can be reused. I would also say that in addition to the equipment, offering possibilities includes informing the organisation – and the summer workers’ managers and colleagues in particular – about the role of employee advocates. If everyone understands why photos are taken and shared, it will be easier for them to accept it.

Encouragement is also essential in the process. Give praise for good posts, organise small-scale photo competitions and draw attention to particular blogs and videos. And remember that you have to manage the operations by your own example as well. Be active: share, comment on and like posts. A campaign that is well executed and communicated usually gets even better. The enthusiasm of the summer workers may well rub off on the permanent staff, so remember to keep them involved.

Impress with images, shake things up with videos

A large part of the content shared on social media is image and video. Here are a few practical tips for how to use your staff and social media in building your employer image. If you have considered using channels such as Instagram or Pinterest but have not figured out how to do this, now is the perfect time to take the opportunity. Think of a good hashtag and ask your summer workers to share images of the best moments of the day using this hashtag, for example.

If the job involves spending time in nature, an amazing photo from the wild is worth more than a thousand words. I would like to mention T-Mobile as a great example: the entire staff has been mobilised to build the employer image. The company uses the hashtag #bemagenta, which employees add to all job-related posts; there are more than 1,500 images with this hashtag on Instagram.

When it comes to videos, we tend to be too critical. Only professionally made and edited ‘publicity videos’ are good enough to be published as company videos. Authentic and believable? It depends on the aim. You should lower the bar and throw caution to the wind. Digital cameras and smartphones record good quality video, and real situations and blog-like videos reach target groups better than any refined and polished film creation.

You can ask summer workers to publish blogs about their job, showing the company premises or videos displaying the company’s products. During the summer, you will be able to put together a nice collection of images and video clips that you can post on you recruitment pages. Google also appreciates videos, so you’ll be placed higher in its search results. Oh, and the camera: you can buy a good camera that will produce high quality videos for less than a thousand euros.

Sounds like an opportunity, doesn’t it? I hope that many companies will take advantage of this opportunity and that we’ll see lots of great videos and images during this summer.

Marja Pylkkänen, the Managing Director of Alma Career Oy encourages companies to involve summer workers in building company's employee advocacy.​​​​