By Lynn Manternach / Guest Column

Only about a third of workers in the United States are engaged in their jobs, according to recent Gallup research.

As a brand manager or marketer, you may be thinking this is someone else’s problem – you’re focused on engaging customers and potential customers. But this is your problem, because frontline employees stand between your carefully crafted customer engagement strategies and the actual purchase.

Regardless of what your company sells, if you have employees, the bottom line will look better if they are engaged in their work. Multiple research studies have linked happy employees to happy customers. And we all love happy customers. They buy more and more often, and share their love of your brand through a variety of channels. So how do we increase the percentage of happy and engaged employees?

Start by making sure you clearly understand your organization’s brand. If possible, conduct brand research with customers and employees to clarify what differentiates your brand and the specific ways people connect with your brand on an emotional level.

Next, use your brand research findings to help you focus and articulate your brand promise. A powerful brand promise communicates in just a few words what your company does and why it matters.

Your employees care about what your company does, but really need to understand why it matters to customers. That’s the emotional hook for your brand – both inside and outside your organization.

Employee engagement needs to be focused on how your team brings the brand promise to life for customers. Employees have to understand the promise as well as their role in keeping that promise, regardless of their function within the company.

Develop an engaging brand education program that clearly communicates the brand’s position, personality, promise and benefits. If the brand was built on customer and employee insight, share that insight with employees so they understand how the brand promise was developed and how it reflects the company’s reputation both internally and externally.

Next, focus on building the brand internally. This is an organization-wide, ongoing process. The brand and the brand promise should be linked to job descriptions, training programs, employee evaluations, meetings and events.

Employees should read, hear, see or feel something every day that represents your brand promise. When employees truly understand and connect to a brand’s goals, personality and promise, they become brand ambassadors. Immersion is the key to creating a brand-centric culture and engaged employees.

Market to employees like customers. Take the time to build a comprehensive internal brand and engagement plan. Use traditional tools, like posters and employee publications. But don’t stop there. Make it social, viral, interactive and hands-on. Make it engaging.

Make sure your employees work in an environment that supports your brand promise. If you expect them to deliver a high level of customer service, demonstrate those qualities in your interactions with employees. The employee experience will impact your customers’ experience.

If you are good to your employees, it is much more likely that they will be good to your customers. Delivering an on-brand employee experience builds employee morale and motivation, improves employee retention and increases employee engagement.

Engaged employees are happier and more productive. They want to understand the higher purpose for their work. They are looking for more than just a job, and your brand promise makes that possible. Taking the time to integrate your brand internally and engage employees offers benefits for all stakeholders, including customers, potential customers, employees and shareholders.

That’s the promise of engagement.

Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. (MindFireComm.com) in Cedar Rapids and LeClaire. Contact Lynn at lmanternach@mindfirecomm.com.

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