Focusing on the benefits of an employee engagement program

“Covid-19 will accelerate one of the largest business transformations in decades.” – Josh Bersin 

Building a business case for an employee engagement program has more significance in 2020. To say the least, we’ve had quite a year. We’re still in a global pandemic, and we’ve seen social unrest, economic uncertainty, and disrupted school and working lives. Many of the transformations we’ll see will likely last for decades. 

In the business world, winners of this situation are the companies that are moving from defense to offense. These are the businesses that are finding ways to adapt, changing their business and operating models when necessary, and moving into the new normal with an ability to attack new markets and emerge stronger. 

Through this changing environment, one of the surest ways businesses can get a sense of how their company is setting themselves up for the future is by getting employee feedback. It’s never been more important to gather employee feedback and the benefits of employee engagement have never been more critical for organizations.

Fittingly, we’re heading into Q4. This is the time of year where many companies are mapping out their upcoming budgets. Companies are beginning to identify trends in their market, and determining what’s involved in designing new programs that they need. This means that there’s an opportunity to build a business case for your employee engagement program, and I don’t think there’s ever been as great of a sell. 

Introducing the case to convince your leadership

In today’s world, building a business case for an engagement program should be an easy sell to make. Though there are always leaders that are resistant to investing in things they view as ‘non-business critical,’ an engagement program is more critical then it’s ever been.

We know from studying the Change Curve Model that at the bottom of the valley is a depression. 

This depression happens during normal changing circumstances, and Covid has thrown a change cycle into many aspects of our lives. We know that school closings have affected 54.5 million children, that in mid-July over half of Americans said the coronavirus crisis has harmed their mental health, and that many workers feel uncomfortable going back to the workplace. 

Wellbeing is a topic that’s trending with our clients at Workify, but anecdotes and conversations are implying that this is happening nationally, and likely globally. Because of this, a lot of clients and companies we’re working with today are wondering how they can take this low energy state and shift it into one of motivation which is a key benefit of employee engagement.

The way to trigger a surge out of low energy is by identifying all the touchpoints that are causing it. This is done by engaging employees, understanding their needs through data, then acting on them with empathy

Some common leadership objections 

Leaders may say things like, “Things need to settle down from Covid 19. Or, “We can’t justify the costs.” Maybe even, “Won’t our people get survey fatigue? We’ve sent a lot of surveys!” 

The truth is, HR is evolving. It’s turning into a strategic function that’s often even fitted with VPs of Culture and Engagement. These VPs now spend time on analytics and strategies to move their companies forward. Employee feedback and engagement measurements are one of the key components to making this happen. 

Right now, workers don’t have in-person 1/1s, coffee dates, or the same hallway chats and team catch-ups, and they’re close to eight months into the pandemic. They’re eager to have channels to give feedback and share their needs. 

Because of this, many large companies have open feedback channels or a cadence to request input so that they can hear and action employees needs fast. Survey fatigue isn’t the concern it used to be, and the companies that are making the most of the opportiunity are the ones actioning feedback the fastest, realizing the benefits of employee engagement in the process

How engagement impacts your bottomline 

Through our research, we’ve seen some data points that point to the necessity of building a business case for your engagement program:
 

  • Companies with a formal engagement strategy are 67% more likely to improve their revenue full-time equivalent on a year-over-year basis.  (Aberdeen Essentials)
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. (Dale Carnegie)
  • Highly engaged businesses see a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. (Gallup)

And these data pieces are only some of what we’ve found. We also know that regrettable terminations can cost companies 6 – 9 months in salary on average, according to SHRM. A loss like that alone could fund the cost of an engagement measurement program a few times over. 

Additionally, onboarding has become more difficult. Getting people up to speed takes a different approach than it used to. This means that keeping the most important hires is more critical than ever. Employees that are retained and satisfied often mean a win for your business, because a positive eNPS (employee net promoter score) usually correlates with a strong NPS (net promoter score). 

Closing out your pitch 

As you’ve seen, companies that invest in employee experience outperform those that don’t. They’re usually found to be more profitable, and they’re covering a different new norm. 

Employee experience programs have become a staple in most companies, and they’re absolutely necessary during our changing times. To realize the benefits of employee engagement, you have to keep an active pulse on your employees and measuring the employee experience should be at the center of your HR architecture and decision making always, but especially during a pandemic. 

As the management saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can”t improve it.” Now that engagement measurement is focused on data collection and analytics, it’s the core of decision making. Without this meaningful data set in place, it’s like throwing spaghetti against a wall. 

An engagement program should be a key pillar in your strategy for moving to a data driven decision making process within HR. As unfortunate as our times are, building the business case has never been more possible. 

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