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The Employee Engagement Journey: How to Build Employee Advocates

employee engagement journey

You probably arrived here looking for a way to make sense of employee engagement, to find a tried-and-true method of continually monitoring and improving your connection with employees. Maybe you’re new to this idea - of creating greater engagement to become a true employer of choice. Or maybe you’re an experienced HR or Labor professional, looking for a powerful strategy that will help create employee advocates.


Either way, the Employee Engagement Journey will give you an edge. Understanding it will help you build the strongest workforce in your industry. We developed it based on over 30 years of experience helping companies communicate with employees. It’s the same framework our top clients use to build an engaged workforce, but it works for businesses large and small. It makes sense for small family-owned enterprises as well as it does for billion-dollar retailers.





Learn the Stages of Creating Employee Advocates

The flowchart at right outlines the Employee Engagement Journey, which we'll be discussing.

Download & print this PDF version and put it on the wall near wherever you work. If you truly plan to implement this framework, you’ll need to reference it often. 

The 7 Stages of the Employee Engagement Journey begin before the employee is even hired and continue until the employee reaches a point where they are an advocate for the company. Let's go through each to provide a greater understanding of how you can move employees from one stage to the next, toward the ultimate goal of becoming an employer of choice.

Employee Engagement Journey

Stage 1: Pre-Hire - Awareness


Recruitment is generally a simple process - a company advertises an available position, a prospective employee responds, and the company makes a hiring choice. But in order to move that prospective employee along the path toward becoming an advocate for your company, you’ve got to begin getting them engaged during the pre-hire process.

As that prospective employee is becoming acquainted with the company, setting expectations is vital. Your prospective employee might have been told about the company by another employee advocate, they might have responded to an advertisement, and of course done some online research. But all knowledge of the company is second-hand.


At this stage, providing an overview of the company’s operating philosophy, the requirements of the job and the company’s expectations will help move that employee down the engagement path.

Stage 2: Orientation


Now, your new hire is eagerly anticipating learning and growth. Every day brings new adventure and new things to learn. They are at their most engaged, and most receptive to the company’s culture. Now is the perfect time to introduce your union-free message - in your orientation video!

Stage 3: The Honeymoon


The new employee is all settled in, still learning a great deal every day, They are meeting people, feeling more confident in their role and fulfilling the company’s expectations for their position. This stage is a great time to provide additional information on how the company connects with employees and remains union-free. You’ll want to educate them on the training opportunities available to them. You can also provide additional job-appropriate information on union authorization cards, how union organizing works, and what your company does to remain union-free.


The honeymoon stage is a great time to keep your new employee engaged, building on the excitement they are already experiencing. Take the time now to educate the new employee on your company’s alternative dispute resolution process.

Stage 4: Comfort


Employees reach the comfort stage when they’ve fully learned what they need to know to perform their job well. The day-to-day demands may be challenging, but they are no longer overly taxing. Regular employee communications are key at this stage of the process, and this stage can last for quite some time!

Stage 5: Discomfort

At some point, it’s nearly inevitable that a once comfortable, engaged employee will encounter a problem with a person or a process, and must speak up to have their needs addressed. The company - in the form of your leadership - must respond appropriately to those concerns, or risk losing engagement with that person for good.


Having earlier communicated the processes by which an employee can have their concerns addressed, your company should have no fear when an employee reaches a place of discomfort. That said, if employee discomfort leads to a union organizing campaign, additional care must be taken. Having multiple employees in the discomfort stage at the same time requires tools and resources you may not have previously considered, including a website for employees that encourages two-way conversation.

Stage 6: Resolution

When an employee’s discomfort is resolved through the involvement of company leadership, that employee’s relationship with the company is improved. Truly engaged employees may travel through comfort-discomfort-resolution multiple times during the course of their employment or even during a single union organizing campaign.


A vital part of the resolution stage is checking in with that employee to ensure the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction. This is where having great leaders at the supervisor and manager level can positively impact the employee engagement journey.

Stage 7: Advocate - Employer of Choice


Finally, great communication and successful resolution leads employees to greater job satisfaction. The knowledge that the company is willing to invest in the happiness and productivity of individual employees creates a reputation as an employer of choice.


In this stage of the employee engagement journey, employees tells friends and colleagues how much they appreciate the company. They’re willing to share on social media that they truly enjoy what they do and appreciate their company. This kind of “public” commitment means that employees are less likely to consider union representation necessary, and they are far more likely to vote “no,” if the situation arises.


One thing to note is that none of these stages of employee engagement occur in a vacuum. The UnionProof team strongly encourages every client to consider a comprehensive communication strategy. Creating your own unique communication roadmap for each stage of the employee engagement journey is the key to moving employees forward and becoming a true employer of choice.

TO DO: Now, print out your copy of the Employee Engagement Journey. With your new understanding of what each stage includes, note what you and your company are doing to help move employees toward engagement at each step. Are you sharing a pre-hire video that sets expectations? Note that in the Awareness stage. Have you implemented an online resource to to address concerns during the Discomfort stage​? And so on, until you can see a distinct progression.

With your roadmap in hand, you can easily see where your engagement gaps may lie and what you'll need to address to move toward the position of being an employer of choice.​

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