• HRMexplorer

    If this is all true change the CEO the company is going no where with this lack of vision!

  • john zappe

    Before you can convince a CEO to undertake an employee engagement improvement program, you need to define just what it is and what it matters. There is no consensus on the definition, though one offered back in 2006 by The Conference Board is oft-cited: “A heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.”

    The challenge is first to accurately measure this emotional connection and show how it matters. There are plenty of assessments and surveys from every vendor out there that purport to measure the former. Whether they do or not is largely in the eye of the beholder. But to demonstrate the latter? That’s a little fuzzier. Lots of studies show improvements in retention, productivity, and service by engaged employees. But correlating enhanced employee engagement to bottom line performance — the ROI in the post — has so far been elusive.

    • Michael Moon

      I do agree that there needs to be an agreed upon definition, but it does not need to be a universal definition. It should be one that fits your organization. I do, however, disagree that measuring employee engagement is not elusive. There are plenty of ways to measure engagement in terms of dollar impact, but the CEO needs to be okay with estimates and believe in the methodology used to calculate the impact. Finance produces forecasts all the time, these are clearly not exact numbers, but their best guess. The CEO needs to give HR the same benefit of the doubt that they give Finance. Again, this is dependent upon having HR leaders in place who truly know how to measure this kind of impact. That is a whole different argument.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PRRHVM3GJMMST44K5ZCIOXAKH4 Anonymous

    Good article, Lance! Very practical-minded. I do have to take you to task on one item, though: the assumption that factory workers don’t like their jobs. My brother is a really smart guy, and he loves factory work! He told me the other day that his sole goal in life is to become a factory floor manager. he drives a forklift right now and is VERY engaged. 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/davidzinger David Zinger

    Well said Lance. And the sixth reason: The CEO fails to see she or he is an employee too!

  • http://twitter.com/rmcguire rmcguire

    HRM needs to take out the (wrongly perceived) touchy feely side to Employee Engagement and firmly attach EE to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. You will find a very interested CEO then!

  • http://www.nobscot.com Beth N. Carvin

    I like this post a lot, Lance. I think the problem is that the word “engagement” is a lousy consultant-speak word. You can tell it was designed to sell somebody something. What CEO wants that?

    I think you hit it pretty accurately particularly with your #5.

    I’ll add that what CEOs want are employees that care about the success of the organization (as much as they do) and are willing to always think and act and perform in a way that will better the company.

    I don’t think most Senior Leaders really buy that whether or not you “have a best friend at work” means diddly. Can’t blame ’em, can you?

  • http://twitter.com/incentintel Paul Hebert

    Lance – your second to the last paragraph – isn’t that how you do get “engagement” – through communication, transparency and managing performance correctly? And the paragraph before that IS the definition of engagement – proactive effort on behalf of the company.

    Seems that the problem is the word – not the action. A rose by any other name?

    Engagement isn’t hard to define – it’s just really hard to do.

  • http://blog.globoforce.com Derek Irvine, Globoforce

    Lance, excellent list. I could comment on all the points, but I’ll stick with the first. If the CEO doesn’t believe — isn’t ready — then the effort has no hope of achievement. You’ve begun to outline the challenges of engagement. And that’s the crux — employee engagement isn’t a single program you can point to.
    It’s multiple efforts, multiple initiatives, multiple actions, that lend to creating a work environment in which employees want to engage.

    That can be quite daunting. But it is possible. We believe strategic employee recognition is one of the best methods for creating that engaging culture. One of our five tenets of success is ensuring executive sponsorship. Without it, your program will only be marginally successful.

  • Brian Williamson

    I look at employee engagement and results through a sales lens – engagement is the feature and improved results are the benefit. High engagement is one critical strategy to generate desired results, as long as we have systems in place that are aligned and very competent team members.

    Very good article and solid points.

  • Charles Creppy

    Lance, great thought provoking title and content. Not a surprise to me that some CEO’s do not get it. I do not personally see why any mission critical CEO would not get this, especially in times like these when we are slowly coming out of a recession and is top of mind for most of the top executives.

    The only reasons some CEO’s doesn’t care about engagement are nicely stated in your article, however there are other reasons including, when not aligned to organizational strategy, middle management is confused about how to facilitate an engage environment and when using it as a buzz word instead facilitating the talk.

    Several reasons can be generated from my recent article: “Employee Retention – How to Keep Your Top Talent With the Right Mix of Programs” @ http://EzineArticles.com/5157049

  • Theresa

    The problem with employee engagement is that it is everything to everybody. I was at a conference recently, and they asked the audience what it was. Literally everything in the field of organization behavior was mentioned. Why would any CEO in his/her right mind buy into this? It’s an industry. It’s a nice idea. However, it is not THE thing that will drive performance because we are not answering the key question: “engaged in what?” What if employees are super engaged in doing the wrong stuff? That’s how firms that win the most engaged awards go into bankruptcy a few days after the celebration dinner.

    With all the money being spent on employee engagement, why are so many businesses not doing better? Maybe it’s because we have no idea what employees are engaged in. From what I can tell, they are engaged in more work and more overtime hours.

    I look forward to new conversations about “engaged in what” and then “so what?” What do employees get in return?

  • JDLake

    No ROI? Do the math – but from a different angle.

    It costs at least 1.5-5 times annual salary to replace an individual who has voluntarily left an organization – increase the multiplier the higher you go into the business. No not just look at obvious expenses such as advertising, interviewing, and OJT once the newcomer is in, but the hidden costs such as lost customers or service opportunities, lost productivity while those “left behind”pick up the slack, lost growth opportunities, etc. all have to factor into the equation.

    If the employee chooses to stay (and, yes, it is a daily decision) the “asset” appreciates. Even if they move out of one position and into another within the organization, you still have return on the investment. But if they elect out of an organization, then everything you have spent becomes an “expense.”

    Which side of the balance sheet do you want to be on?

  • http://twitter.com/tseamon Terrence Seamon

    Good post, Lance. If I may add my two cents, one of the blockages that some CEOs have is that “they are funny that way.” Meaning, they are wired to focus on things like data, profits, costs, and stuff like that. The human stuff does not compute for these CEOs. It’s not that they are bad. It’s how they are made. The way to “get through to” these CEOs is to go via their interests.

  • http://twitter.com/MrPeterQuintana Peter Quintana

    I’ve only just seen this post and the various comments below. Bit late, I know, but I still feel it is worth adding my ‘two pennorth’.

    First things first. You can’t ‘fix engagement’ in any jobs, whether they’re hip companies or not. Employees are either engaged or they’re not. Secondly, why on earth wouldn’t you couch engagement in terms of competitive advantage, and therefore all the things that CEOs actually do care about? And thirdly, what does it mean to ask ‘what do employees get in return’? That just seems to me to be missing the point completely.

    Engaged employees are engaged because they are satisfied with their jobs and the place they work, are loyal to you, their employer, prepared to recommend you to friends and family as a place to work and, above all, proud of where they work. It doesn’t have to be fun all the time – you can be all of these things even if part of your role is to ‘change sewer filter and empty storage container’.

    It also doesn’t have to cost the earth, although of course, good pay rates are likely to give you a  head start. Except good pay is only a short term motivator, as we all know. Making sure managers and leaders in the company recognise employee achievement is not expensive. Making sure employees are kept aware of what the company is doing is not expensive. 

    One thing is definitely true. Employee engagement has become an industry in its own right, and consultancy firms out there are, I’m sure, charging big fees to persuade CEOs to spend big money on stuff that sounds good but at the end of the day is just not important. 

    Having an engaged workforce is not the result of some wand waving. It is the result of good managers practising good management. Why is that difficult to understand and difficult to communicate?

  • http://www.amazon.com/Employee-Engagement-2-0-Performance-Real-World/dp/1469996138/ Kevin Kruse

    Really?! There are intelligent professional who think any of this? #2, pick any job (bus driver, janitor, whatever) and you can enjoy your work and relationship with your boss or not. You can be engaged or disengaged. Job doesn’t matter. #3) No ROI? How about 5x higher stock returns (Kenexa research), 6% higher profit (Towers Perrin), etc etc.

    Kevin Kruse
    Author, Employee Engagement 2.0

  • http://peopleink.com/index.html Ann Rhoades

    We run into this in our work on creating corporate cultures (related to engagement). If we feel the CEO is not on board with efforts to drive culture change then we decline engagements. Involvement of leadership is that important because leaders are the drivers of company values. As to reasons why a CEO might not care you’ve got a decent list started. Here are common issues that are helpful in evaluating whether culture change (increased engagement) is worth considering.
    You are being outperformed in your categoryYou have high turnover in key positionsYour employee engagement and/or customer satisfaction scores are lowYour financial performance is not where you want to beYou just want to go from good to great