Opinion: Positioning employee engagement on your CEO’s agenda: Part 1

by Contributor30 Dec 2016
In part 1 of a 3-part series, Nigel Purse outlines how HR can build a business case to help position engagement at the top of the CEO's agenda

I am sure you can agree that we have all, at one stage or another, been in a situation where we believe that our organisation is focussing too much on the overall success of the business and instead feel that more emphasis needs to be placed on softer areas such as employee engagement, rather than simply looking at profits, return on investment or recruitment.
It is all too easy to assume that now is the wrong time to be focusing on such issues, with much wider business changes and market conditions such as Brexit or the US elections taking centre stage, however in truth, there is no ‘right’ time to approach the subject. If, for this reason, you decide to give it a go and discuss with your CEO why employee engagement should be on the agenda, it is important that you have a faultless pitch. This series of three articles will take you through three ways to make the best possible case to ensure your Board listen;
  1. Create a business case which highlights the economic and social aspects
  2. Appeal to your CEO’s emotional side
  3. Highlight simple and actionable steps making the process as easy for them as possible
Part 1: Create a business case which highlights the economic and social aspects
Before presenting the case to your CEO, you will need to know the current situation on employee engagement and what you believe can be done to improve it.  It is important that you have the facts ready for when they ask questions and that you clearly undersand your argument for changing the current system. This first step is all about you and how you prepare your argument to make sure your CEO pays attention to you. In addition, you will need to clearly define and understand why you are doing this and why it matters right now.
One of the main things you will need to consider is how employee engagement benefits the wider business environment. David MacLeod set up Engage for Success; one of the best sources of organisational data and he found that across various research studies, high levels of employee engagement were found to consistently correlate to better business performance. In addition, Kenexa found that companies with a score of engagement in the upper quartile had twice the net profit and 18% higher productivity when compared to those in the lower quartile.
Now that you have specific stats and information about the wider business environment, you need to link each benefit of increased employee engagement to aspects of the business which are currently important to your CEO, whether this includes innovation, growth, quality or staff retention. This is the possibly the best way to get your CEOs attention and make them listen and appreciate the effort you have put in to create this pitch.
David MacLeod sumarises perfectly by saying “organisations embedding the enablers of employee engagement as the way they work have more chance of surviving in the new global economy, because they are building the future with, and around, their people.”
In the next article, I will be discussing how it is important to preach to your CEO’s emotional side as the best way to make them sit up and listen.
About Nigel Purse
Nigel founded The Oxford Group in 1987 following a career in HR and business management with the Mars Corporation and Burmah Oil (now part of BP). The Oxford Group is a people-focused business driven by a passion for helping organisations get the best from their people, unleash hidden talent and successfully manage their business through times of change. Since 2015 The Oxford Group has been part of The City & Guilds Group, a global leader in skills development, which enables people and organisations develop their skills for personal and economic growth. For more information, visit www.oxford-group.com