Employee satisfaction and retention can significantly affect a company’s bottom line, productivity, and future success, and Qualtrics’ Bill McMurray (pictured below), employee engagement programs can help as long as companies focus on company-wide adoption and executive buy-in.
Research by PwC has shown engaged employees are 87 per cent less likely to leave an organisation. The total cost of replacing an employee can be up to 213 per cent of their annual salary, according to the Centre for American Progress. This demonstrates the value of having employee engagement programs in place, but to make them work, it must be a company-wide initiative with executive buy-in.
Qualtrics has identified how to demonstrate the value of employee engagement initiatives for each stakeholder in the organisation:
Attaining company-wide commitment for an employee engagement program begins at the top, and it’s essential to have a committed executive sponsor to maintain any concerted initiative.
Presenting the value to senior leadership in a clearly defined manner, with a summary of potential action items and direct ties to the company’s bottom line, may assist program drivers in getting buy-in from their company’s executive team.
People managers are critical because they can drive change with direct reports, often more effectively than more senior executives. However, one of the biggest challenges for companies is getting people managers to feel involved in and act on employee engagement data and initiatives.
To get buy-in from people managers, drivers of the employee engagement program should focus less on the financial impact and demonstrate how engagement and pulse data can be used to drive continuous change and action within their teams.
Managers have responsibilities to both individual employees and the overall financial goals. Clearly communicating company vision, goals, and important metrics will attract people managers to become involved in the engagement program, especially if they have a very clear view of the metrics and progress through live dashboards.
If an engagement initiative begins but does not succeed, engagement rates among employees may fall lower than they were before the unfinished initiative started. To succeed at creating real change, program drivers need to build trust so employees know their candid and open feedback will actually make a difference. To build this trust, open communication is critical. An annual company-wide survey once a year, while important, will no longer cut it. Businesses must have multiple channels for employees to provide feedback throughout the year and must communicate their action plans addressing this feedback in almost real-time. Best practice is to provide a feedback channel across every stage of the employee life cycle, being interviews, on-boarding, training and development, through to departure. It is important to never take your finger off the pulse and more importantly, communicate and act on the feedback you receive.
Drivers of the employee engagement program need to choose a communication method that works best for their company’s culture and employees. When setting the program’s strategy and beginning to collect employee engagement feedback, program drivers need to remember to provide ongoing training for each group involved to keep information flowing and to stay focused on keeping the program sustainable.
Once the results of the engagement or pulse surveys are published, program drivers must share the results, including recommending actions that managers and leaders should take as a result of the data. Program drivers need to keep in mind that some engagement data may be sensitive so sharing the dashboard with all employees isn’t necessarily appropriate. However, by communicating action plans and measuring their success with pulse surveys, employees will recognise the value of an engagement program.