Employees: key players in corporate communication

By ENGIE - 25 January 2022 - 10:37

The era in which companies would fear what employees would say to the outside world about them is now over. On the contrary, companies now seek to engage their employees as opinion ambassadors. Although the idea may not be new, it has taken on a new dimension with the rise of social networks. Called employee advocacy, this influence marketing has become essential for companies. 


An approach that is both believable and legitimate

Numerous studies show that consumers are increasingly expecting brands and companies to be responsible and transparent. In this context, and as Millennials seek to join ethical companies in search of more fulfilling careers, companies clearly have an interest in adopting an approach centred on employee advocacy. In fact, numerous studies indicate that the employee’s voice far outweighs an official company communication in terms of generating engagement. Content shared by an employee will, on average, generate eight times more engagement compared to if it had been shared by an institutional channel. The voice, or rather, voices of employees promote an authentic, relatable and sincere means of expression. It is a direct glimpse into the company from within, much like a backstage view. 

There are as many different and impactful opportunities to showcase the company’s uniqueness from within as there are employees: small sentences or large statements, social media posts, video testimonials, interviews, event participation, forums, gatherings between friends, etc. Employee engagement can therefore take on many forms, but in general, a committed employee is one who takes part in a positive and active approach, that is also fulfilling


Engagement that is beneficial to all

Each employee is therefore potentially, in their own way, an ambassador for the company. Who better than an employee to explain their job? Or to promote daily life at the company, its management style, interactions with colleagues and the potential for professional growth. 

From a company’s point of view, these are all opportunities to generate visibility, improve its image and facilitate recruitment. Indeed, each employee has a unique network stemming from their career path and interests (alumni, former colleagues, members of professional groups, etc.), and reaches key audiences for the company. In a highly competitive job market, these assets should be capitalised on and not ignored. C
I think what is missing is authenticity. This only works if we support employees, without transforming them into “advertisement” employees.

It is also a way for the company to recognise the value of its employees. It is a show of trust and contributes to their ongoing engagement and motivation. At ENGIE, the social engagement culture is very marked, notably through the existence and running of numerous internal communities that contribute to ENGIE’s vitality and influence. For example, the ExpAND programme brings together a community of more than 500 of the Group’s business and technical experts, and allows to occasionally solicit involvement on a project, opinions, or external statements.

Or the community of technical ambassadors, which helps to promote the technical sector and its professions in order to attract new recruits both internally and externally. This is the case for Saad Boussag, refrigeration mechanic at ENGIE since 2017, who has decided to join CommunauTech’ (community of technician-ambassadors), which is particularly active within the Group. “I want to transmit and share the passion I have from my trade, and to help young people discover it,” explains this urban refrigeration expert with a smile. “It was only natural that I joined the community. I take part in job fairs, I speak to apprentices at CFAs (apprentice training centres), etc. I consider this to be an essential role: it complements my trade and allows me to play an active role in shaping the company's future by supporting the next generation. Transmitting this knowledge is a very fulfilling experience.” Saad Boussag also intends to participate on LinkedIn, by posting messages about his experiences and professional reality.

As for employees, whether you are an official or natural ambassador, you also communicate on your own image and skills, and thus improve your employability.


Employees as models

Some companies take it one step further by featuring employees in their advertisements, as was the case for ENGIE in its latest employer campaign. ENGIE’s new employer brand is a testament to the diversity of the Group's profiles (multicultural, gender, age, etc.), of career paths and professions, of lived experiences, and highlights not only the Group’s values and commitments, but also the concrete assets that set ENGIE apart from other employers. This campaign sets the tone for a communication that reflects the Group: a trust-worthy, transparent and honest company that places people at the heart of its actions. It legitimises the employer promise made to all employees and candidates.
ENGIE’s latest advertising film was cast internally, featuring the children of employees for an energetic and engaging clip (see insert). 

Although you may not be an influencer in the strict sense of the term, there is no denying that everyone has the power to influence and recommend. Involving employees in the company’s communication is the perfect way to meet our era’s demands for transparency and credibility, but should always be based on the voluntary and genuine mobilisation of employees. And this is only possible in a company where employees are happy to work!


The children of employees in ENGIE’s new brand campaign.

ENGIE’s brand campaign was launched at the end of January in a variety of media (TV, print and digital), and features the real children of the Group’s employees. Dominique Wood-Benneteau, Head of Communication and Brand at ENGIE, explains this authentic and modern approach.

Why use the children of employees for the film?
Dominique Wood-Benneteau:
It is a truly different film that marks a shift from what is done in the industry. We chose to use the children of employees for added authenticity to our message. And, as a bonus, this production is brimming with vitality and energy from the Children’s performance – you will notice when you watch it! - with the subtext that we are working everyday towards a low-carbon world for future generations. This campaign is an extension of the previous one, devoted to the employer brand, in which ENGIE employees were already the faces of the company. We are building on this by now including the children! It is a modern and effective form of communication that provides employees with the role they deserve.

How has this film been received internally?
DWB. :
As this is an absolute first, we had no benchmark to compare it to. And we were delightfully surprised by the response to our approach. Despite complicated production conditions due to the pandemic, the casting call was a success: we received over a hundred applications! Most importantly, the children’s parents, i.e. the Group’s employees from different departments and functions, appreciated being involved to this extent in a large-scale communication. Internally, this generated strong levels of engagement, which is proof once again that employees appreciate playing an active role within their company which goes beyond their everyday job.

Will employee implication become a fundamental aspect of your communication strategy?
DWB. :
A company is nothing without its employees. ENGIE has been aware of this for years and, as such, favours an approach where the employee holds a central role, whether in communications or in the organisation of various events. This strategy is written into the Group’s DNA.