Launching an Employee Ambassador Program in Healthcare
How your rural health organization can benefit and tips to get started today
Posted on February 7, 2018
By: Mike Milligan, President - Legato Healthcare Marketing
Internal before external. It's a caveat to effective marketing, and it's particularly relevant in rural health.
No dollars spent on advertising will change your brand without considering your most valuable asset: your employees. They are, after all, the ears and eyes of your rural health organization. They represent you at virtually every place in your community. The Friday football game, at church, on the soccer field, or at the grocery store. They influence the perceptions of their co-workers, family and friends.
As a rural health leader, consider engaging with this important audience through the development of an Employee Ambassador program. In short, the initiative is about identifying 10-15 employees who positively influence others in your organization. Title is irrelevant, and in fact, I'd encourage representatives from clinical and administrative backgrounds, and also who may live in various regions of your service area. These employees, or ambassadors, are responsible for sharing messages in their social environments, as well as gathering feedback from the community and back to hospital leadership.
As we've helped establish these programs for others, we've learned that employees are honored to be considered. They appreciate the recognition, and immediately share their enthusiasm with others.
Gain Insights to Internal Culture
The format and purpose of the program can vary to your needs. Some organizations use the program to roll out new marketing initiatives, and to receive employee buy-in before launching a new campaign. Other rural health leaders benefit most from the program by gaining some valuable insights to the culture of their organization.
Setup includes identifying the participants and training the new ambassadors. These include discussing responsibilities and expectations, and listening to the ideas of your new advocates. Then, based on this input, it's time to put that plan into place. Here are a few other suggestions to increase the likelihood of success for your program:
- Implement a nomination process for selection of ambassadors. Criteria should include demonstration of leadership, community involvement, what made them interested in being an ambassador, and a supervisor recommendation component.
- Provide public recognition for ambassadors.
- Conduct detailed ambassador training including duties, key messages and expectations.
- Have regular follow-up meetings with ambassadors to share new information, and to learn what they're experiencing.
- Respond to all new ideas and take immediate action on the ideas you plan to adopt.
As you grow this program, it should naturally progress to all employees serving as ambassadors to your message. You'll see stakeholder support throughout your organization, mobilize employees around common goals through the leveraging of diverse experiences. It all starts with leadership and setting the course for your future. For more information on setting up an Employee Ambassador Program for your rural health organization, fill out this form and we'll set up a time to help you get started.
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