In 2014, HR Zone published an article that used Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a model to explain how employee engagement can be implemented within an organization. I adapted the model to further explain the next level of engagement—employee advocacy. This model was also published in my latest book, Participation Marketing.
As you can see at the bottom of the Maslow pyramid, the basic needs are food and shelter. For an employee, survival is being able to pay the bills, point blank. At the top of Maslow’s pyramid is self-actualization, or reaching one’s full potential. For an employee, it’s their affinity for the company, leadership, and vision. The model below is an excellent way to think about a company’s relationship with its employees, as well as the employee’s attitude towards the company they work for.
Here’s a closer look at each stage of the Maslow pyramid as it relates to engagement level, working from the bottom to the top.
Not all of your employees will ever reach self-actualization, and you have to be okay with that. A benchmark I use 1% to 10% of your employee base has the potential to reach a portion of this level at some point in their career, even if their career is short.
You cannot forget about the other 90% either. They still matter, even if some never become advocates. With the right support, mentorship and leadership, they could potentially move up the hierarchy ladder. This is critical to the future and health of your brand. As they become more engaged, they will naturally produce a higher quality of work. And high-quality work translates to a better product, innovation, process improvement and a thriving culture.
For any employee brand storytelling program to produce results, there are three important steps to consider before you jump in head first:
- Operationalize a plan: Obvious, right? But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Identifying the right employees, coordinating with internal stakeholders (Legal, IT, HR), begging for a budget, and training are all initiatives that need to be considered and planned out.
- Align employee content strategy to brand narrative: Employee content must be aligned with larger, brand narrative. Doing so will ensure that you surround sound your customers with trusted brand stories at every touch point.
- Invest in the right technology: Don’t make this your first decision. Be smart at which vendor you invest in. Ask questions about their development roadmap, plans for acquisitions or securing more funding, account management, integration with other APIs. I would ask to talk to a few of their current customers. I would recommend Dynamic Signal.
This is a summarized version of a post I published on CMO.com