Our Story: Employee Engagement Tactics That Drove Hard Results

Christina Zurek
Christina Zurek

Group of ITA Group employees

Marketers strategize and build successful brands that appeal to target audiences. They create messages designed to resonate with specific groups of people, who then, in turn, believe and put trust in them.

To get real results from engagement initiatives, HR professionals need to think like marketers. The tactics used to communicate your employee value proposition (EVP) and employer brand message matter and influence your results in a substantial way.

As they might be at your company, recruitment and retention were among the top organizational challenges at ITA Group. But in order to address these issues, we needed to start with ground-level tactics—namely, understanding our people and what motivates them—before communications came into the picture.

Related: It’s important to create and sustain a successful employee experience—but what does that look like, and how can you do it, too? Discover why organization that focus on their employee experience are seeing impressive results in terms of retention, revenue and profitability.

To reinvigorate our employer brand message for our team, we first outlined the specific behaviors we wanted to drive in our people. Through an anonymous, company-wide survey and a focus group, we landed on the right benefits, right initiatives and the right blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators needed to keep our people engaged: a new dress code, revamped annual anniversary gifts, increased flexibility, employee events and more.

Related: Want to see how a blend of motivators might work? We break down the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with social scientist and New York Times bestselling author, Dan Ariely.

Just like marketers captivate audiences with a compelling story behind their brand, organizations must chart and navigate their own internal story as well.

After understanding the elements that benefit our people, we set the framework for a compelling employer brand story that helped our team members “feel” and experience the brand on a personal level.

With our goals established, benefits and motivators addressed, and brand story outlined, we drafted a comprehensive communications plan designed to deeply resonate with each of our team members.

And the impact on our company was impressive.

Employer Brand Communications: What They Are & Why They Matter

A great employer brand campaign must be well-communicated and strategic—missing one part of the equation could spell disaster.

Clear, consistent and targeted communication is the cornerstone of employee engagement, especially in the context of reinforcing your unique EVP and brand message. Skimp on the communication and you’re sure to create confusion and undermine success.

Giving your brand a unique, appealing voice makes your company stand apart. And that’s accomplished with a distinct approach to engagement.

The Engagement Tactics We Used to Reinforce Our Message

  • We created a distinct brand for our campaign. This helped unify every communication tactic and provided an exciting theme for team members to rally behind.
  • The next step: unveiling everything to the whole team with a powerful launch event. We helped our people experience—not just read about—these changes through a compelling video and a surprise party themed to our new brand.
  • Since our company, like many others, spans a wide array of demographics, a mixed print and digital approach to communications was crucial to ensuring every detail was heard loud and clear by all generations. On top of that, this approach appealed to remote employees and helped them feel like an integral part of the team.
  • Online conversations are the new water cooler talk. That’s why tech-focused tactics can’t be overlooked. We refreshed our employee portal and tied in recognition, offering managers and team members the opportunity to reward specific behaviors in line with company values. This platform also helps keep our brand continually top-of-mind, as it’s used to promote events and initiatives long after the launch.
  • To personify our program on a day-to-day basis, we established ambassadors in charge of championing and promoting the new brand and moving it forward with new ideas. To find these people, we looked outside the C-suite to find enthusiastic employees dedicated to demonstrating and encouraging buy-in for our brand message.

The Initial Results of Our Employer Branding Overhaul

The results of our revamped brand message, driven by strategic engagement tactics, included:

  • 41% increase in hired employee referrals
  • 9% increase in retention of team members in technology-related roles (a particularly competitive market for us)
  • 94% employee retention
  • 44% increase in classroom training attendance
  • 38% increase in volunteer-time-off hours used
  • 20% increase in peer-to-peer and manager-to-peer recognition
  • 95%+ customer retention rates
  • Double-digit revenue and operating income growth

Additionally:

  • 96% of team members strongly agree that the campaign positively impacted company culture
  • 79% said the program positively influenced their decision to stay
  • Millennial team members recorded the most positive responses about the changes regarding culture, performance and recognition

And the personal reactions our team members had were definitive:

“Exciting changes at ITA Group … I applaud the company's culturally progressive approach.”

“I just started working at ITA Group at the beginning of March, and I can say all these new changes have truly made me excited to be a part of the family.”

“I've always loved the culture at ITA Group, but the team has gone a step further!”

Want to learn more about how a company transformation can lead to employee brand advocates? Download our white paper, Employee Brand Advocacy and the Competitive Edge.

Employee Brand Advocacy and the Competitive Edge

Christina Zurek

Christina Zurek

Christina creates innovative solutions by combining her enthusiasm for motivating and engaging people with more than ten years of consultative solution development experience. She thrives on completing research and analysis, collaborating with others, experiencing new things and drinking craft beer.