We’re surrounded by stories.
Videos. Images. Music.
We create an estimated 1.145 trillion MB of data each day, and spend over 11 hours interacting with media.
Compared to the cute puppy videos and gripping crime podcasts we consume in our spare time, employer content doesn’t get much love.
That’s because it tends to be dry. Polished. Impersonal. Dare we say it… boring.
So how can employers make staff sit up and pay attention in a content-saturated where everyone’s vying for their attention?
The “old way” – top-down comms from the executive team – won’t cut it anymore. For internal communications to be truly engaging, you need to have the courage to give all your employees a voice.
Meet employee-generated content.
What is employee-generated content?
Employee-generated content (EGC) is a form of user-generated content (UGC) that’s uniquely powerful. It covers pretty much anything – pictures, videos, blogs, stories – as long as it’s created by staff. Ideally, they reflect your company values and culture. But the main thing is that they come from real people with varied opinions and perspectives. They’re authentic.
EGC is an effective way to strengthen culture and build trust in your leadership while retaining loyal team members. And it’s a chance to elevate your internal communications beyond dry announcements and policy changes.
John Godden CEO and founder of care and education service, Salutem, shares how employee-generated content transformed communication in his frontline business:
In other words: when one frontline worker shares their experience, other team members feel seen, heard, and part of a community.
Employee-generated content examples: where storytelling meets internal comms
Stories help us relate to one another. They help us see our shared insecurities, our shared struggles, and the messiness of being human.
Stories are more than a pleasant aspect of life — they’re essential to it.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, connection is one of our five psychological needs required for self-actualization and happiness.
Many studies over the years have found profound benefits to social connection, including decreased rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and longer lives following a cancer diagnosis.
Social support can also reduce the effects of stress and increase job satisfaction and performance. In essence, it helps people be the best versions of themselves — which also helps them be the best employee they can be.
Turnover in frontline professions is higher than any other because employees don’t feel emotionally invested in their organization. That explains why they’re willing to move jobs for marginal improvements in pay or hours. But when they feel like they truly belong – because of two-way dialogue and trust – it builds a deep sense of loyalty few other benefits can.
Research backs this up. A recent study from BetterUp found employees who feel included have 56% higher job performance and 50% decreased turnover risk.
Giving a voice to your employees also means you have new avenues to collect valuable insights about how your business is doing. From feedback on key business decisions to their insider perspective on customer satisfaction, frontline workers know things no one else does.
Once you have their suggestions, it’s important to acknowledge and act on them. That will empower your employees, so they know that when they raise their voice, it makes a difference.
Plus, you can use the content your employees generate publicly in your content marketing strategy. Sharing stories of successful and happy employees on your website and social channels show a warm, open company culture, builds brand awareness and shows that you care.
(In an age where most potential applicants look up a company’s online presence, sharing social media posts about your employees is a cost-effective way to make a big difference for your personal brand.)
Your employees’ stories can play a pivotal role in your organization’s community, belonging, and togetherness. Technology like Blink supports that by making employee-generated content possible — putting the tools for storytelling in everyone’s hands.
Look – we know the idea of giving employees more open freedom to share and write on behalf of the brand can be a bit scary.
Here are the most common concerns we hear and their solutions:
What if employees post offensive content?
The first step is to make your guidelines and internal communication best practices clear. The etiquette you expect at work should follow through to a digital environment. Take the precautions further by setting up content moderators to sign off on everything.
What if some people don’t want to share?
That’s OK! Some people will take naturally to the role of influencers, while others will take more of a backseat position. People will become more comfortable as time goes on. In the meantime, everyone can still benefit from employee-generated content even if they aren’t posting it.
I don’t want my employees sitting on their phones instead of working!
Trust your employees’ better judgment. More likely than not, they’ll use their discretion to spend time on their phones when it won’t delay important deadlines.
In fact, 62% of workers say that phone usage helps them be more productive at work. Phone use is inescapable, so it may be better to lean into it than fight it.
If the phone usage gets out of hand, you can always set breaks and schedule designated phone time.
How to leverage employee-generated content
If a more motivated, engaged, and connected workplace is something you want, then here’s how to start leveraging employee-generated content and internal communications best practices.
1. Make it really easy to post
Think about the number of clicks it takes to post a status on a social media platform like Facebook.
As little as two clicks: One to get into the text box, and another to share. It’s simple.
To encourage your employees to post, content creation should be a natural process that feels inviting and straightforward. When your employees want to share an image or text, add hashtags, or filter their audience, the tools they most often use should be at their fingertips.
2. Leverage dynamic content like video and pictures
On social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, posts with visuals get 94% more views than content without any images. Video content is even more engaging.
So encourage your employees to share their stories in video format, too. To encourage more dynamic content, try having a photo contest or themed story entries.
3. Don’t worry about it looking “unfiltered” — that’s the beauty of it!
There’s a time and place for polite sign-offs, flawless grammar, and emotionless language — it’s called email.
Your internal employee-generated content can be less stiff and more personal than that. Don’t be afraid to share more personal stories of how you relate to the industry or bring out what makes you, you.
4. Make it real: employees, faces and names
Sure, you’ll want to post about company-wide announcements, thought leadership, and brand initiatives, but it’s essential to make posts about real employees whenever possible.
Is there a value that you feel an employee particularly champions? Is someone celebrating a work anniversary? Recognize staff who gave insightful feedback or displayed exceptional performance. Employee advocacy can go a long way.
The bottom line: Make sure your employees feel seen and heard.
5. Default to positive news
When getting a bit more personal, it’s important to remember to focus on uplifting content. Yes, you want to be relatable, but focus on sharing employee wins, company-wide successes, and positive anecdotes from the field.
When you do share stories of failures or setbacks, try to frame them from the perspective of what you learned and how it makes the company stronger.
6. Share templates
Make it as low-friction as possible to create content.
For recurring posts that you might want to include monthly — like highlighting an outstanding employee — a template can help you and your leadership continually create certain types of content.
To encourage employees to share stories about their experiences and backgrounds, provide outlines that address the key points they may want to talk about to create an engaging post.
Providing templates emphasizes that you’d like to hear from them while reducing the effects of ‘blank-page syndrome’.
7. Share the best stories company-wide to raise awareness and boost morale
Your business is filled with everyday heroes.
There are nurses who went the extra mile for their patients in their time of greatest need, and there are truck drivers picking up extra shifts to make sure vital supplies reach their destinations.
There are hundreds of stories waiting to be told. And each one has the potential to build your company to something greater — they just need a space to be shared.
Final thoughts: 7 tips to leverage employee-generated content
Your employees need to feel seen, heard, and connected to feel their best and do the best work they can.
That’s why it’s time to re-think how you view internal communications. Your brand channels aren’t just for work updates and company policies anymore. With internal employee communications apps, your employees can truly connect and interact in a digital space.
Blink is an internal communication app that’s easy to use and helps your frontline workers connect and stay engaged. Try it out today.