The days of paying employees a basic salary and expecting their loyalty are long gone. To achieve maximum productivity and effectiveness, employees need to be engaged.

While intuitive managers have long known this to be the case, research shows that engaged employees are 87 per cent less likely to leave an organisation. That’s important because the total cost of replacing an employee can be up to 213 per cent of their annual salary.

It’s therefore crucial to actively work to improve employee engagement. Businesses do this through employee engagement programs, which meet with varying degrees of success depending on a number of factors.

To make employee engagement programs work, they must be company-wide initiatives with executive buy-in.

That means demonstrating the value of these initiatives to each of the main stakeholders in the organisation. Once these stakeholders are fully committed to the program, it will be more likely to succeed.
It’s important to approach each stakeholder differently based on their individual concerns and requirements.

Senior leaders

Senior leaders are an important group because, like any cultural change, engagement needs to be driven from the top. It’s essential to have a committed executive sponsor to maintain any concerted initiative.

Senior leaders need the value of an employee engagement program to be clearly defined and articulated, and presented with a summary of potential action items and direct ties to the company’s bottom line.

People managers

People managers are the next critical group of stakeholders. They can drive change with direct reports often more effectively than more senior, and more removed, managers can. However, gaining buy-in from people managers can be a challenge.

Employee engagement program drivers should focus less on the financial impact of the program and demonstrate how engagement and pulse survey data should be used to drive continuous change and action within their teams.

People managers need to feel involved in and act on employee engagement data and initiatives.

Sophisticated experience management platforms can let people managers leverage robust dashboards and action planning tools to help them identify engagement drivers, which they can then use to take immediate action and track progress over time.

People managers have responsibilities to both individual employees and the overall financial goals. They therefore need to clearly understand and be able to communicate the company vision, goals, and important metrics.

This helps them become more involved, especially as they access real-time information through live dashboards.

Employees

The third and, arguably, most important group of stakeholders to gain buy-in from is employees.

If you start an engagement initiative that doesn’t succeed, engagement rates among employees can fall even lower than they were before. To be successful at creating real change, you need to build trust so employees believe their feedback will make a difference.

Open, two-way communication is critical and therefore the annual survey is a limited feedback process. Successful employee experience programs go beyond the single annual engagement survey and create multiple channels for employees to provide feedback throughout the year. However, you need to make it clear how this feedback will be used to make real improvements in the employee experience.

Best practice is to provide a feedback channel across every stage of the employee lifecycle, including candidate interviews, onboarding, training, development, and offboarding. Gathering the feedback is a crucial first step, but it’s equally important to demonstrate that you’re communicating and acting on the feedback you receive.

When it comes to communication, the right method will be dictated by the company’s culture and employees. You need to provide ongoing training for each group, keep information flowing, and stay focused on keeping the program sustainable.

Once the results of the engagement or pulse surveys are published, you need to share them, both good and bad results, including any recommended actions that need to be taken.

Through consistent, transparent communication and action, everyone in the organisation will recognise the value of the engagement program.