Dean and Donaldson

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At D&D, we think working from the inside out when it comes to branding and marketing is vital. This is why we keep the employee audience front and central in all the work we do helping the organisations we work with grow and flourish – and why we think employees deserve to be marketed to, rather than simply communicated with.

Effective employee engagement has now become fundamental to business success. As an example, the Institute of Customer Service’s research tells us improvements in employee engagement directly drive customer satisfaction.

Not only are employees looking for organisations with clear purpose and shared values, increasingly they are demanding a culture and working experience that actively supports their wellbeing and enables their personal development. They want to feel that they belong, and that they are part of a collective effort. They must also be able to locate the contribution they are making to that effort – and feel that their contribution is continually recognised and valued.

However, recent research by McKinsey claims, in some instances, more than half of the employees of a typical organisation are relatively unproductive at work, attributing this in part to full or partial disengagement – and that the negative effect of disengagement can be significant.

Their research points to two influential employee segments, each at opposite poles. The most negative of these they label ‘the disruptors’. This group is likely to be actively disengaged, and so prone to demoralizing others. McKinsey estimates ‘disruptors’ can account for as much as 11% of the workforce in a typical organisation.

By contrast they identify a group they call ‘thriving stars’, who actively create value and inspire their fellow workers – these comprise around 4% of the workforce in a typical organisation.

Understanding these dynamics directly informs our work at D&D. Of course, it’s important for the company to regularly share its story with employees and set out a clear model in terms of values to support the culture it is seeking to build and its forward strategy.

But we all know that word of mouth and peer recommendation is really influential. Research tells us that employee postings on social media achieve dramatically higher levels of engagement than when the same message is broadcast by the employer. Celebrating inspiring examples from your ‘thriving stars’ is important but encouraging participation from as a wide an audience as possible will pay big dividends.

This is why we believe having a well organised, content rich and highly interactive internal marketing programme (rather than simply communications) is very important – a vital factor in helping organisations win the war to attract and retain top talent, and through engaging employees, create the conditions that enable them to back-foot and outpace their competition.