Q&A: Unlocking the Power of Employee Advocacy with Jay Joshi

It's not just about having a skilled workforce; it's about cultivating passionate advocates who breathe life into your organization's mission. Join us in this enlightening conversation with Jay Joshi, a seasoned HR professional, as we delve deep into the world of employee advocacy.

In this discussion, Jay shares key insights, experiences, and strategies to unlock the full potential of your workforce.

Q: Can you share details about your background, current role, years of experience, and tenure in people management or HR?

I've gained nearly 7 years of experience, starting with my college years. During my college's first year, I initiated a company, which lasted for around 2.5 years, although it didn't yield substantial profits as we aimed to establish a recruitment marketplace.

Afterward, I worked in consulting, primarily focused on market mapping for leadership roles in the US and Europe. I also had a stint as a contractor in a health tech startup based in New York, where my role was a mix of responsibilities.

Later, I joined CoinDCX, primarily handling leadership recruitment for product engineering and corporate strategy. Then, I moved to Cred, where my focus was on engineering hiring. I later transitioned to Peerlist, where I worked in the GTM team, overseeing customer acquisition and engagement initiatives. Currently, I'm freelancing, assisting various individuals with their tasks.

Q: What does "employee advocacy" mean in a broader sense?

Employee advocacy is a lot like being a fan of a product. For example, if I've been using a product for a while and it becomes an essential part of my daily life, I become a strong advocate for it. This happens because I genuinely like its features, how it works, and what it offers.

Q: How does the context of employee advocacy differ in startups versus enterprises?

Employee advocacy can vary in startups and enterprises depending on the company's size and culture. In startups, it often involves a more personal connection with the company's mission and culture, while in enterprises, it may be influenced by a broader organizational structure.

Q: Why should HR professionals pay careful attention to employee advocacy?

HR professionals should pay attention to employee advocacy because it contributes to a positive company culture, attracts top talent, and enhances the organization's reputation. When employees genuinely believe in and advocate for their organization, it creates a strong and authentic image.

Q: Why is seeking social acceptance and nurturing a sense of community within an organization valuable?

In simple terms, when employees understand and connect with what their organization does and why it's important, they become enthusiastic advocates for the company. This advocacy isn't just about fancy titles or brands but is about employees genuinely believing in their organization's mission. When they can explain what the company does to others, it creates a strong positive image for the organization. For smaller companies, building this advocacy is crucial, and it starts with ensuring that employees know the 'what' and 'why' of their work.

Q: Why is employer advocacy important in attracting talent, especially when proper marketing can eventually make an organization visible to potential candidates?

Certainly, in the context of employer advocacy and attracting talent, it's crucial to consider the organizational culture and the messages conveyed by leadership. Take Tesla, for example. The people who choose to work at Tesla understand that it's a demanding and intensive environment. They know they'll have to put in long hours and commit significant effort to their work.

When you interview at Tesla, you don't ask about work-life balance or traditional work timings because it's not what the company prioritizes. Instead, you're drawn to Tesla because of its unique culture and the vision set by Elon Musk and the leadership team. They inspire a particular set of individuals who are willing to go the extra mile and are less concerned about conventional work-life boundaries.

So, employer advocacy begins with the top leadership and the culture they cultivate. It's about the message they convey about why the organization exists and the problems it's trying to solve. When this message resonates with employees, it becomes an ongoing advocacy effort that starts from day one and continues to attract like-minded individuals who align with the organization's purpose and culture.

Q: How would you advise startups, enterprises, and mid-sized companies, including well-established startups like BYJU's, to build and enhance employee advocacy effectively?

Certainly, when it comes to building and enhancing employee advocacy, it's essential to consider the size of the organization – be it an enterprise, a mid-sized company, or a startup.

For Enterprises:

  • Leverage a rich history and a diverse workforce.

  • Identify key contributors and enable them to share their stories.

  • Recognition is crucial for advocacy.

  • Run extensive advocacy programs and brand ambassador initiatives.

  • Empower employees to have a voice on platforms like LinkedIn.

For Mid-sized Companies:

  • Maintain a strong culture as the company grows.

  • Middle managers play a vital role in enabling advocacy.

  • Help employees understand the mission and feel part of something meaningful.

  • Recognition, both monetary and non-monetary, is essential.

For Startups:

  • Leverage the flexibility and agility of a small size.

  • Foster a strong sense of mission and values.

  • Ensure all employees understand what the company does and why.

  • Every team member should be able to articulate the mission.

  • Connect individuals to the organization's purpose.

  • Incentivize advocacy and recognition.

  • Advocacy is about sharing core values and understanding the 'what' and 'why' of the organization's mission.

In all cases, genuine understanding and belief in the organization's mission are key to fostering employee advocacy.

Q: Do you think company marketing will heavily rely on individual employees, founders as the face of the company, or showcasing different faces from the team for authenticity, and how will the proportion of each approach evolve over time?

A company's marketing strategy will depend on its business and market dynamics and likely include a combination of tactics. Sometimes founders are the company's face, but sometimes highlighting team members works better. Establishing an ecosystem where employees can voice their opinions and participate to marketing is crucial. Building a diverse and approachable team that can authentically represent the brand and resonate with different audiences is more important than one person stealing the spotlight. There is no single solution; it should fit the business and its aims.

Q: Will there be a surge in HR focus on employee advocacy, and how significant and manageable do you anticipate this shift to be for both individuals and organizations?

Certainly! Employee advocacy, like what GitLab does with its career page, has a lot of untapped potential. Many companies haven't realized the full benefits yet.

Imagine if you regularly shared stories about your employees and the good things happening at your company over a couple of years. This builds up a strong image for your brand. It's like growing a reputation, and it takes time.

Just like famous brands don't become famous overnight, it's a continuous effort to show what your company stands for, and your employees need to know it too. This way, your company can become more appealing to both potential employees and customers.

Do you work in HR?

Email abhash.kumar@springworks.in and let’s talk :)

Note: All views expressed in this interview are personal and not linked to any organisation.