Is Employee Engagement and Employee Advocacy the Same Thing?

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Terms like employee engagement and employee advocacy are often used interchangeably, so it’s understandable that these two very different terms are often mistaken for the same thing — but they’re not. HR should approach these two areas of the employee experience very differently in order to maximize productivity and drive innovation.

Here’s a quick explanation on what you need to know about the difference between employee engagement and employee advocacy.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the relationship of an employee to the broader organization. High employee engagement is essential for every business, as engaged employees are more likely to be satisfied with their careers and their employers. However, job satisfaction shouldn’t be confused with high engagement. Job satisfaction is what the employee gets from the employer, while employee engagement is what the employee gives back.

In addition to job satisfaction, some studies have shown that high levels of engagement result in better overall employee well-being, as well as better performance and higher retention rates for the employer. In other words, engaged employees benefit everyone.

Employee Advocacy Programs

Officially, employee advocacy programs are the promotion of an organization by its employees. In other words, it is allowing (or encouraging) employees to advertise for you. It’s marketing that comes straight from the mouths (or social media profiles) of your employees. And it works!

Some even believe that a well-run employee advocacy program is better than corporate-run social media programs. For example, this article from Social Horsepower suggests that 135 advocates are more powerful than 1 million Facebook fans. While these numbers are specific to Facebook, the outlook is similar across social media channels. If done well, advocacy programs can have much greater ROI than social media campaigns.

Does Advocacy Drive Engagement?

In a recent interview, Ed Terpening, Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group, suggested that it’s impossible to know whether employee advocacy actually drives engagement or whether engaged employees are just more apt to participate in advocacy programs. Terpening was part of a research study on employee advocacy programs. While it is unclear if advocacy programs drive engagement, it was obvious that employee advocates do need to be engaged first!

Engagement Comes First

Employees may become more engaged after participating in advocacy programs, but unengaged employees are not likely to participate at all. If employee advocacy is something your company is considering, it’s imperative to ensure your employees are actively engaged with your organization first.

As you can see, employee engagement and employee advocacy are not one in the same, but they are closely tied together. You can’t have effective employee advocates without engaged employees, which is why employee engagement is so important. Not sure how to increase employee engagement? We’ve come up with three ways to get started, and each one is totally free.

Are you interested in developing an engaged workforce? Download our ebook, 15 Best Practices for Employee Engagement to get started!

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