How To Create an Employee Advocacy Group That Works


Happiness Heroes is a Fond blog series highlighting our forward-thinking customers who are doing unique and noteworthy things to develop a company culture rooted in employee happiness.

For this installment of Happiness Heroes, we spoke with MakerBot, a Fond customer.

A little about MakerBot and the history of their employee advocacy program…

MakerBot is one of the first companies to make 3D printing accessible and affordable. In 2010, they became the first company to present a 3D printer at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and are now one of the global leaders in the space, redefining what’s possible for makers of all walks by introducing many industry firsts.

Over the last several years, MakerBot has gone from a small startup working out of a garage in Brooklyn, to an office full of employees running the largest 3D design community in the world (with 360-degree views of New York City no less).

As they grew, the need to put a more formal employee engagement plan into place became clear, while still trying to maintain the entrepreneurial and passionate spirit upon which MakerBot was founded. This effort resulted in the creation of Creative Council – a small internal group dedicated to being the “voice of the MakerBot employee.” Since the implementation of this program, MakerBot has been able to continue to drive forward their positive company culture and successfully keep employees engaged in new – and everyday! – activities and operations.

Here’s how Creative Council works and four simple steps others can take to develop and implement similar employee advocacy groups within their own organizations!

1. Identify Council Members

MakerBot decided to assemble their Creative Council by inviting one member from each department to join the group as a representative. The requirements? You must be able to attend the monthly meeting and accurately express questions, ideas, and feedback on behalf of your departmental peers.

2. Put Guidelines in Place

Having guidelines in place for the council was extremely important to the collective at MakerBot. In order for conversations to be productive and ensure everyone’s voices were truly heard, they decided to follow a few key rules:

    1. Confidentiality. The team likes to use this time to provide previews into different company-wide programs and initiatives before actually rolling them out in order to get open and honest feedback. This could not be done unless there was a feeling of trust amongst the collective. This also allows Creative Council to serve as a sort of focus group for MakerBot to ensure they’re always considering the feedback of employees before implementing new programs.
    2. No complaining. One thing that was important to the those running Creative Council was that the group was properly managed – meaning, that the meetings could not be used as complaining sessions. These meetings are meant to be constructive and a simple and essential house rule is to drive positive, constructive conversation only.
    3. Be solutions-oriented. As a result of fostering only positive, constructive conversation within Creative Council, MakerBot is able to focus on solutions-oriented approaches to key issues. They alway ask members their ideas for solutions, resolutions, or approaches to any question that or problem that may arise during these meetings.

3. Tie in Your Values

The number one thing driving MakerBot’s Creative Council program is making sure that their core values are tied into everything they do, especially when it comes to introducing something new.

Makerbot’s five core values are:

      1. Customer dedication
      2. Open communication
      3. Creativity
      4. Empowerment
      5. Quality

Tying these values into everything Creative Council helps the group to stay true to their culture and the things that matter most to the company as a whole.

4. Be Authentic

Perhaps the most important part of activating an employee advocacy group is making sure the actions of the group are regarded as authentic by the whole. Members of the Creative Council are aware that the decisions they make affect everyone within the organization. Communicating the “how and why” has been essential in showing the collective that this group genuinely cares about the feedback they’re receiving from employees and will always do their best to address it in the most effective way they can. Building trust amongst all parties is the key to producing truly successful results!

For more tips on how to put culture first as your company scales, check out this article.

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