Making The Business Case For Promoting Employee Engagement
Tips for HR to foster awareness and support
Employee engagement is increasingly recognized as a vital part of successfully executing strategy, especially in the face of escalating competition and an accelerating pace of change.
To be most effective, however, employee engagement cannot be the purview of human resources alone; nor can it be merely handed off to managers who are often too busy to take on one more thing. It takes a partnership across the organization.
Getting buy-in from senior leaders to front-line managers could take some convincing. Fortunately, there is a clear business case to be made for employee engagement as key to delivering more and achieving broader business goals.
Here are some ways HR can help foster greater awareness and support for employee engagement.
Engagement for Driving Strategy
Employee engagement seeks to improve performance and increase productivity by creating conditions that foster commitment to organizations on the part of employees and a willingness to go the extra mile. Engagement has the greatest impact on business outcomes, however, when work environments also enable employees. Otherwise, employees may be engaged by the goals and enthusiastic about making a difference, but will become frustrated because they are held back by jobs that do not suit them or work environments that impede them.
When employees are highly engaged and equipped to succeed they are better able to deliver more. They will be able to successfully navigate through new and unanticipated situations, particularly when they have to find the answers for themselves. This understanding helps underscore the business case for employee engagement as a competitive advantage for the organization.
Engagement for Talent Recruitment and Retention
Employee engagement helps organizations win the war for talent. Employers that are known for high employee engagement become magnets for attracting and retaining valuable people.
High levels of employee engagement become part of the employer brand—how it is viewed by talent and prospective talent. More than ever, from iconic traditional companies to cutting-edge firms, an employer brand encompasses the compelling stories employers tell about the organization and its culture.
In every industry, people want to work where their efforts matter—where what they do furthers organizational goals that are aligned with their own personal values. Korn Ferry Hay Group’s partnership with Fortune magazine to identify the World’s Most Admired Companies highlights a consistent focus on culture in these leading organizations. As recent findings show, 93 percent of executives in the World’s Most Admired Companies say their cultures are a significant source of competitive advantage, and 95 percent said their CEOs purposefully act as role models to shape the desired organizational culture.
Assuring employees that they have a future in and with the organization is critical to create and maintain high levels of engagement. Said another way, it gives confidence to employees and prospective talent that they are playing for a winner. Otherwise, people become nervous that their career success is bound to an organization that may not be able to successfully execute; job security and career advancement are seen as being in jeopardy.
Engagement for Leadership Development
All too often, employee engagement and leadership development are not closely aligned. This can be seen with leadership development programs that are disconnected from employee engagement activities. Those who lead these initiatives may not communicate as much as they could or should.
Chief human resources officers (CHROs), in particular, can forge better connection points between leadership development and employee engagement. CHROs who are part of or work closely with senior executive teams can show the importance of developing leaders who are highly engaged themselves and have the skills to create high levels of engagement in their teams.
Engagement to Promote Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR), as part of an organization’s purpose and culture, also helps foster employee engagement. As research has shown, a primary driver of job satisfaction is working for a company whose culture is aligned with personal values. However, there is more that organizations and their senior leaders can do. Korn Ferry Hay Group research has shown how progressive organizations use CSR goals to help develop leaders with purpose and enhance a mission-driven culture.
CSR can also foster talent development by encouraging individuals to become involved in the communities in which the company operates, such as serving on a community organization’s board. Such activities are not about just doing the right thing; they also provide opportunities to develop leadership competencies.
Engagement is a Compelling Message
Employee engagement is not about making people happy or satisfied in their jobs. Rather, it is a way to inspire people to do more and become more effective. It’s fundamental to creating a high-performance organization. That is a compelling message for CHROs and other HR leaders to broadcast to senior leaders and front-line managers. Companies that want to win in an increasingly competitive environment can only do so when employees are highly engaged.