Employee Engagement: The Key to Executive Buy-In

A man stands at a crossroads and must choose the problem or the solution path for better employee engagement

Are you looking to boost employee engagement at your company? After more than two decades of working with clients to improve their working environments so employees are fully engaged, we know one thing for sure—unless you obtain executive support and commitment, success is doubtful.

The very first step to take is to define the problem in a way that will make executives sit up and take notice. Only when the problem of lagging employee engagement is articulated in a way that leaders care about will they spend the time and energy to help craft a solution. And only when executives are fully engaged in the process will you achieve your goal. First the problem…then the solution.

Based upon over 500,000 employee engagement survey participants per year, we have consistently found that the question “The leaders of this organization are committed to making it a great place to work” has the highest correlation to overall employee engagement levels. In other words, you really need your leadership’s expressed commitment and follow through.

  1. Define the Problem with Hard Data
    Executives need to understand that low employee engagement is not just a “soft” problem. The costs of disengaged employees and unwanted attrition are well understood. According to four recent studies, the impact of lower employee engagement scores is pretty startling:
  • 12% lower profits
  • 19% lower operating income
  • 28% lower earnings per share

While higher employee engagement scores correlate to:

  • 18% greater productivity
  • 12% higher customer satisfaction
  • 51% less voluntary turnover

Use this data in addition to information you have found from a recent company-wide poll or what you have observed as a lack of employee motivation or increased turnover after a major change effort. Present the data and ask if they would work with you to find a solution. Chances are they will say “yes.”

  1. Search Out Possible Solutions
    Do your homework. Research different potential solutions. You will probably come up with a combination of options that could include a survey, a communications campaign, some training, adjustments to performance expectations and tweaks to current compensation incentives. Ask for leaders to help with setting criteria for the solutions you evaluate. As you review possible surveys, for example, does it matter more for the technology solution to be easily accessible or innovative? What, exactly, are the data that you need to guide next steps?
  2. Present Your Top Three Options
    Schedule a presentation to the leadership. Be well prepared with back-up data that show how you came to your final recommendation. Know answers to the questions they are likely to ask. Use only a few slides to present the “pros” and “cons” of each of the top three options. Then explain why you recommend one of them. For instance, your recommended solution may cost more but it will be company-specific. Anticipate justifying the additional cost with data on how the lower cost alternative will not deliver the data you need for your specific culture.

Once the path is chosen, the fun begins. Implementation is tricky. You need everyone on board…willing to be patient, understanding that change is difficult, and committed to the ultimate goal. But with leaders providing the resources and setting the example, you are on the path to success.

To learn more about employee engagement and retention, Download Our Employee Engagement and Retention Toolkit Now

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