Think of your personal inbox. Now think of your work inbox. What conversations are you paying attention to? What conversations do you think your workforce is paying attention?
If you're trying to get a message out - a new technology, open enrollment, legal issues - you're bound to be up against a lot of competition (and clutter). But when the message comes from a Champion, people are more likely to listen up and take action. So what can a Champion do for you?
Champions are true advocates and knowledgeable users of the initiative they’re championing.
They are members of your workforce who will spread the message throughout your employee base on your behalf.
It goes without saying that utilising Champions works because it increases the coverage of your communications. But it’s so much more than that. Champions provide a human aspect; a trusting approach to communications because your employees are getting the message from their peers. I know I would be more interested in something my co-worker Alex told me about when we were grabbing a coffee, than a flyer in my inbox.
Champions spread trust in a program. Whether new or established, they act as a friendly pillar of support to others. It’s that word-of-mouth marketing that quickly builds engagement results.
Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Pick the right people.
Depending on the size of your business and your employee demographic there are two ways this could work. You can predetermine Champions by allocating responsibility and making it part of someone’s role, e.g. HR Managers, Engagement Teams etc.
Alternatively you can recruit Champions, allowing the natural advocates within your workforce to step forward voluntarily. These people are already highly engaged and passionate about the program, and will work hard to promote it as a result.
Either way, you need your Champions to be true advocates of the initiative. Whether that’s something that happens naturally or something you instil, if the passion is real, the effect will be tenfold.
Step 2: Make it easy.
Once you have your Champions, you have to make it easy for them to begin Championing. To successfully promote the initiative, they need both the knowledge and the tools to do so. You need quickly accessible and digestible information for them to absorb and pass on. You could mix it up and keep it interesting using infographics, videos, polls etc.
Take into account your demographic and make it easy for the Champions to spread the word. For example, in an office environment give them quick and relevant bits of information they can pass on in conversation. For more spread-out demographics, give them content for emails/videos to share etc.
Step 3: Be exclusive.
Make your Champions feel special. Give them early access to the platform or to specific new features to generate a feeling of exclusivity. Ask for their feedback and opinions and give them real ownership of what they are championing. Provide them with VIP access, granting more access to exclusive areas containing articles, employee communication ideas, fact sheets, videos for example.
Step 4: Communicate the why.
Why be a Champion? And more importantly, why continue to be a Champion? Simon Sinek famously advances the power of ‘communicating the why’ (watch him in action here). By communicating the power of why they are doing what they are doing, such as helping other employees get more value from their benefits, Champions can be really empowered. It’s important to link their actions to the good they are doing. For example, one Champion’s actions might have saved their co-workers over $1,000. Now that’s something to shout about!
This blog post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated.