Three Out of Four U.S. Workers Don't Believe Their Employers' Brand Promise

Do your employees really believe in you and your company? If CEOs and corporate communicators are being honest, they would not confidently answer 'yes' to that question. According to research from Gallup, three out of four workers in the U.S. feel their organizations do not always deliver on the promises they make to customers.

Gallup's Nate Dvorak and Robert Gabsa write about this research and the implications in the post, "Companies Don't Have Effective Brand Ambassadors."

As an ongoing responsibility, leaders and managers need to provide employees with relevant tools, education and support. In the modern economy, delivering a brand is becoming more than just providing that product or service; in many cases, it includes an experience and a specific emotion. The most successful organizations ensure they provide these experiences and emotions to employees first -- and that employees, in turn, fully understand and are capable of delivering that same experience to customers.

If an employee has doubts about their organization's ability to follow through on a promise, they will never be a believable advocate on behalf of the organization. The fact that three out of four employees have misgivings about the promises their companies are making means the credibility gap is massive.

We've been writing about the importance of internal communications for the past two decades, starting with the post, "Employees Are Your Most Important Public," which tells the story of our founder, Dan Keeney's award-winning program on behalf of HCA-Gulf Coast Division. Our philosophy always has been that employees should be the primary focus of public relations. A PR strategy can only be successful if stakeholders who are closest to the organization are believers and can be trusted to serve as passionate advocates.

Gallup's research finds that most companies are failing in developing this level of passion internally. Just 41 percent of U.S. employees strongly agree that they know what makes their company's brand different from that of competitors. If they don't know and can't articulate the differentiators, how could they ever effectively communicate why your company and/or its products and services are better to customers? 

In his excellent article published in Public Relations Strategist, "The Future of Corporate Culture: How to Achieve Excellence in Internal Communications Management," Keith Burton of Grayson Emmett Partners, Chicago, captures the reasons for these disconnects between a company's brand promise and perceptions among employees, including the following:

  • Information overload;
  • The fast pace of the workplace;
  • Finding skilled workers;
  • Generational differences;
  • Morale issues;
  • A failure to recognize the contributions of frontline employees; 
  • Product recalls, shortages, quality issues and distribution problems; and
  • The need for applying new, more innovative technologies.

These should not be seen as excuses. Each is an obstacle to overcome. Here are four steps that can get you on the road to addressing an employee belief gap:

1. Complete an Assessment - Do your employees really believe? It's a good question to ask. You should also ask employees to tell you what they think differentiates you and your products/services. Conducting an annual internal survey provides a great baseline and progress report. 

2. Be Strategic - Define what success looks like and work backward from there to define the specific bite-size achievements necessary to get to that ultimate win. 

3. Be Benefits Focused - Companies are more likely to tell employees about problems that need to be fixed than how products/services are making lives better. 

4. Make It Easy - A big reason employee beliefs are out of alignment with corporate brands is that employees are overwhelmed with information. If every month or every quarter your communication drifts to highlight something new, you risk confusing your employees. Consistently deliver your brand's three or four core ideas to employees with every communication.

To learn how your strategic communications efforts can better educate and engage your employees, contact DPK Public Relations by completing a contact form or call 800.596.8708.

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