Lori's Blog

How to Get Everyone Onboard with Employee Storytelling

employee storytelling
Employees raising their hands to volunteer for employee storytelling

Once you decide to start a storytelling initiative, it’s time to rally support within your company and get people excited to participate. You’ve already got buy-in from leadership, because they understand how the right talent enables their business strategy. Now you need to get everyone else in the company onboard. This is critical, because you can’t tell employee stories with your employees!

Your internal communications should not just announce your initiative, but answer potential questions that staff might have about their part in employee storytelling. You should also set expectations to build a comfort level with people that this will be a positive experience for them.

Frame the Initiative Around the Employees

Employees will want to know “why are we doing this” and the way that you frame your answer will have a big impact on their response. Often times people are uncomfortable with being placed front and center, so telling them that this is a “spotlight” on them might not be the best thing to say.

Instead, tell employees that the best way to recruit more people like them is to let people look at the company through their eyes. The way to do that is to tell the story of their experiences.

Share Example Stories to Build Confidence

The next question to answer is “what are these stories going to look like”? When employees see an example, you give them a way to envision the end-product. They can see that the story doesn’t dig into their personal life or rag on the negative. Because stories activate empathy, encouraging employees to read other stories can actually guide them to say “yes” when you ask for participation.

If you’re just getting started with employee experience storytelling and you don’t have an example story, what do you do? You can use examples that your writer has done for other companies, or create a story with one of your own people before you announce the initiative. Find one person who you know will love to participate and not only will you get an example story, you’ll have an advocate for rallying his or her co-workers.

Let Employees Know Where and When They’ll Find Their Story

Part of setting expectations for employees is letting them know how you’re going to publish their story. The first location is probably your company or careers blog, with promotion through social media and email marketing.

Your writer will be pulling out testimonials from the interview so make sure that you let employees know that their words and photo could appear on the company website or in social media posts. Part of your storytelling process should include making sure that you have appropriate permissions and documented approval. If people have agreed to participate, they’re usually amenable to sharing testimonials but surprising someone with their picture on Facebook could backfire on you

Will I Be On YouTube?

Video definitely has to be in your media mix but starting with written stories can get better buy in. Giving people a positive experience with their written story will build their confidence that you're going to present them and their story in a positive light.

Then, build expectations as you did for the written stories, educating people about the process, providing examples, and letting them know what you'll be doing with the finished product

Outline the Storytelling Process

Set yourself up for a “yes” for employee storytelling by letting people know how easy it will be on their part. There won’t be any preparation that they have to do. The interview will be more like a conversation than a question and answer session.

Give people the time in their schedule they need to participate. An employee interview only takes about 20 minutes. Provide someone to cover for them if they have to answer phones, or can’t leave their station.

Introduce the Storytelling Facilitator

If you have someone in-house who writes, that’s great, but your people may be more likely to open up to someone who is not a part of your organization. Let employees know that you have hired a consultant to conduct the interviews and write the stories. It might seem contrary, but people can actually be more transparent with a stranger.

You should rely on your consultant to not only be able to put people at ease during the conversation, but to also be skilled at asking the kind of open-ended questions that pull out the most insightful thoughts from participants.

Your People Are Excited! Now What?

After you have introduced your employee storytelling initiative, you might have a line of people ready and willing to participate. This is great! Jump on it! Your interview schedule doesn’t have to determine your publishing schedule.

In addition to getting volunteers signed up, don’t forget to approach people who haven’t raised their hand. Some people need more time to think about it. Some just need an invitation. Sometimes it’s about the timing of your ask.

Get Started with Employee Experience Storytelling

I help companies stand out from their competition by guiding them through the employee storytelling process. Have a look at an example story then give me a call to take the first step towards overcoming your recruiting challenges.

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