Who wouldn’t want to tap the power of passionate employees? Who wouldn’t want to engage them to advocate for the organization and contribute in other meaningful ways? Recently, we spoke with some companies who already have an employee ambassador program or are planning to launch one, to learn what successes and challenges they’re seeing with the program.
As we spoke, here were four considerations that stood out for running a successful employee ambassador program:
#1. Get the Right People on Board
While you may be enthusiastic about an employee ambassador program, not everyone else at your organization might share the same passion as yours. So, the first key consideration is to identify those passionate employees who would be happy to go above and beyond and become ambassadors of the organization.
But, even before considering that question, one may argue if there is any such need to “identify” them. I’ve been hearing from members who, in order to be fair and unbiased, are keen to open the doors to the program for every willing employee. After all, in an ideal world scenario, all employees should behave as ambassadors. However, a counter-argument is that though many employees might show the initial willingness, not everyone would contribute actively later on. Therefore, some minimum selection criteria, such as a certification or a competition, should be used to identify the “most passionate” employees. Restricting the number to a select few also makes managing the ambassadors less resource-intensive.
So, which of the two approaches—“open to all” or “select few”—do you think works better and why?
#2. Address Employees’ WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)
The second important consideration is to identify employees’ motivation drivers. What’s in store for them if they become ambassadors? Should they be rewarded for their efforts? If yes, should the reward be monetary or non-monetary?
Well, if you said “monetary,” Dan Ariely (author of Predictably Irrational) won’t be too happy. According to him, when you offer a monetary compensation for a person’s discretionary effort, the relationship no longer operates in the realm of social norms (going above and beyond without any expectation of immediate reciprocity), and instead works as per market norms (putting only that much effort for which one is paid). If that happens, it would defeat the purpose of having employees as volunteer advocates in the first place.
To encourage employees’ discretionary effort, organizations should identify their emotional drivers , such as desire to look smart, desire to belong, and desire to help others, and design a reward program that matches these drivers. Rewards such as senior leadership recognition, peer recognition, access to exclusive information and events, can go a long way in keeping them hooked to the ambassador program.
What according to you is employees’ WIIFM and how do you address that?
#3. Keep Them Hooked
Identifying the right people and their motivation drivers is just half the battle won. The biggest challenge is to keep the ambassadors engaged into the program, such that the initial enthusiasm doesn’t fizzle out. One of the tactics that helps keep the momentum going is to create specific calls-to-action and challenges around company initiatives. However, is that enough?
What other ways have you tried to keep the employees hooked?
#4. Measure Program Impact
Last, but probably the most important, consideration is to assess the impact of the ambassador program. Members, whom I spoke to, raised their concerns about difficultly in selecting the right metrics and quantifying the program impact. While it may be tempting to view the rising number of program enrollments as a measure of success, it’s definitely not the correct metric. The most important success measure is whether the program is meeting the business objective for which it was created, and the selected metrics should help track the achievement of this business objective .
How do you assess the impact of your ambassador program?
We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please use the comments section below.
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