Different times call for different leadership. Organizations, led by the C-Suite, need to create workplace environments where employees can thrive. That means taking responsibility for — and be held accountable for — building a strong corporate culture and a meaningful employee experience.
This guide, “Employee Engagement for C-Suite Executives: 9 Transformational Insights that will Generate Positive Business Outcomes,” draws on decades of experience to provide leaders with relevant topics and actionable items that will reduce employee turnover and increase employee satisfaction. Topics include:
and so much more!
The ‘new normal.’ There is no unified definition, but many C-suite executives agree that scaling and profitable growth is the key to sustainability. The ongoing conflict in Europe, price increases in energy and food, and materials shortages are all contributing to a slowdown in the world’s economic growth. Worse, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expects the GDP to be scaled-back to 2.2% in 2023, compared with the previous forecast of 2.8%.
According to the McKinsey Economic Conditions Outlook (September 2022), executives in North America cite inflation as the top threat to economic stability in the next 12 months. However, where those rising costs are expected to originate from vary greatly by region. In the U.S. the top three areas of concern are wages (37%), materials (17%) and energy (16%).
Finding and retaining the right talent has driven wages and onboarding costs up. But the good news is that rising salary and turnover expenditures can be mitigated through employee engagement. Yes, you heard that right. But don’t take my word for it: Gallup data shows that organizations who improve their employee experience see positive business results: a 14% increase productivity, a 23% increase in profitability and a 43% reduction in turnover. When the cost of replacing employees can range from one-half to two times their annual salary, those figures can be in the millions.
In these uncertain times, your HR team needs creative ways to reduce turnover, so that your organization, and your employees, can thrive. Dive into the insights in this eBook — each of which have an executive summary of “Quick Takes” at the top for skimming — to find creative ways to reduce turnover and improve the employee experience. If you have any questions, you can click the 'Talk with a Specialist' button in the upper right corner of your screen and choose the meeting time that works for you.
Yours in profitability,
Inspirus | Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, USA
Since the reality of COVID-19, many leaders have accepted the likely reality that business will never be ‘normal.’ They’ve realized they will need to learn to navigate, lead, and inspire in a changing workplace —with employees on-site and remote — and a changing economic climate. With businesses still experiencing the “great resignation,” here are seven things leadership can do to navigate within this ever changing environment:
Employees need to hear consistent messages from the organization, and that starts at the top with alignment in the executive leadership team. This alignment has always been important for a strong team culture but has become even more so in a dispersed work world where communication can be challenging. It’s important for employees to understand that they, their team members, and their managers are all moving in the same direction, with the same voice, to achieve the same goals.
Never has the environment been more uncertain for all of us than it has been since the pandemic emerged. There’s no reason to hide from that uncertainty. Employees don’t expect organizational leaders to have all the answers in this uncertain environment. They do expect them to set a good example by acknowledging that uncertainty and the stress it may be causing.
Now is a good time to revisit your company’s mission, vision, and values to confirm that they are still a relevant and an accurate reflection of the way your company operates. Further, executives need to hold senior leaders and everyone throughout the organization accountable to upholding these values.
The workforce today requires more empathy from leadership than ever before. Effective leaders know they need to lead with empathy, and balance head with heart.“ The companies of the future that are going to win the talent war are going to be those who recognize that there is a work life divide — and treat people and their lives holistically,” says Jennifer Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD. Companies that don’t, she says, “are going to bleed talent.”
While a dispersed workforce has created some collaborative challenges, it’s also given us a new definition of ‘community’ that is no longer geophysically dependent. Technology tools like Inspirus® Connects, for example, provide a shared place for employees to come together to connect, interact, collaborate, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. It’s the responsibility of the executive leadership to encourage a positive company culture, and foster a sense of community where everyone feels they belong and can contribute no matter where they sit.
With five generations in the workplace, each with varying levels of communication preferences, organizations need to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to communication. Executives must ensure organizational communications connect with a multigenerational workforce and meet the needs of both on-site and remote employees. Leadership needs to make sure managers have the tools they need to deploy company information, and make sure everyone has equal access to it.
Leaders need to have clear insights into the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are a hallmark of effective leaders, and look for those attributes in new hires. Building bench strength should occur at all levels and areas of the organization. The ability to build a strong workforce, and leadership team, that reflects the diversity of the communities served starts at the leadership level.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that on average it costs a company 6 to 9 months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her. For an employee making $60,000 per year, that takes $30,000 - $45,000 out of a company’s budget, per individual, for recruiting and training costs.
Recognition is an effective, budget-friendly solution to reduce employee turnover. “Recognition, applied in the right ways, can tip the balance towards why an employee will stay with a company,” says Inspirus Senior Solutions Architect, Jennifer Disco. “When an employee leaves, an organization doesn’t just lose a trained employee. An organization can also lose customers — depending on the relationships — as well as intellectual capital.”
Organizations can create an inclusive environment that attracts and retains top talent by continuously engaging employees — especially top performers — and acknowledging their work efforts.
When the C-suite makes recognition and engagement a priority in the organization, employee absenteeism is reduced by 81% and turnover decreases up to 43%.
Here are four ways recognition impacts retention rates, to play a pivotal role in your organization.
In order for recognition to gain authority within an organization among employees, it’s essential that leadership believe in the process and its benefits to the company. When executives are committed to making recognition and appreciation a priority, it sets a standard that others will follow and continue throughout their daily interactions. In order for recognition to develop into a cultural value, this process can’t be treated like just another initiative that may eventually lose steam. It needs to be seen, experienced and practiced every day by all leadership (not just the HR department) in order for employees to understand that recognition is truly valued by the organization.
Managers are often the first impression employees have with a company and set the tone for the overall experience that employees have within an organization. This makes it all the more important that the C-suite ensures its managers’ actions are aligned with the organization’s values. When employees produce great work, go above and beyond in their role, or positively impact the organization, managers should provide timely recognition that includes specific examples of how those employees provided value to the organization.
Taking the time to develop a culture that recognizes employees for their efforts (and behaviors) is a way for an organization to show their commitment to creating a space where employees can thrive. In turn, employees will be less likely to leave for another organization if they know they will be adding value when they do a good job. The proof: organizations that implement recognition programs have 31% less employee turnover.
To ensure that employee recognition maintains momentum and positively impacts your workforce, structure and consistency are key. By developing a standardized, enterprise-wide structure to implement recognition, all managers and employees will have the same opportunity to recognize one another for the value and efforts they bring to the organization.
Making sure employees feel recognized and appreciated for their work creates a workplace where high performers remain engaged, productive and will be more likely to recommend the company to other talent.
It’s no secret that attracting and keeping great employees has become a major post-pandemic challenge for many organizations. Just turn on the evening news or open your local newspaper. You’re bound to see story after story about the “Great Resignation” and how people are quitting or changing their jobs in droves. One of the keys to keeping a talented and loyal workforce is making sure that employee communication and engagement is a priority from the top down. A trend we’ve been seeing in the last year is a push to re-train management in the simple, yet transformational, art of listening.
Hearing is passive. You hear people all the time, but you’re usually focused on yourself and are thinking about how you’re going to respond or even talking over them before they’ve finished. You don’t really hear what they say because you’re not truly listening. Listening requires giving complete focus and your full attention to another person.
Hearing involves only the ears, whereas listening involves the whole person. When you are actively listening, you’re making eye contact, you’re nodding, you might even be taking notes. You’re not only trying to hear what the other person is saying, you’re actually trying to understand why they are saying it. You’re holding your response until you have all of the information, have processed the information, and then after listening and processing, you are able to form a thoughtful response and seek even further clarification.
Listening fully to another person demonstrates the highest level of respect towards them. It makes that person feel validated, important, and understood. Understanding is the whole entire point of listening. By letting go of your need to control or dominate the conversation, you establish a bond of trust, which increases your capacity for real communication and leads to higher levels of respect among your employees and teammates.
Empathetic listening is the holy grail of communication. A study conducted by Development Dimension International (DDI) determined that empathy is the single greatest skill a leader can possess.
When leadership really listens to its employees, they not only feel heard, but also feel seen. This makes them feel appreciated and more like a true part of the company. According to the EY Belonging Barometer Report, employees who feel a strong sense of belonging are 3.5X more productive and motivated to contribute to their full potential.
If you want to become a better listener and provide a better experience for your mangers and employees, you’re going to have to learn to be quiet. The goal is to make people feel safe enough to communicate honestly with you. You do that by showing respect, empathy and patience. Here are a few tips…
High employee engagement is linked with improved employee retention, increased revenue, higher productivity and lower operational costs. Unfortunately, Gallup reports that employee engagement began lagging at the end of 2021 and the slump continues. Leadership needs to work even harder (or rather, smarter) to put employee engagement strategies into action if they want to see improved business performance.
If employees are disengaged — or even not engaged enough — business can suffer. Gallup found that ignoring engagement costs the global economy 8.1 trillion dollars each year. Improving employee engagement and job satisfaction can boost profitability, improve customer satisfaction, and even encourage a safer workplace and more inclusive work culture.
Ignoring or underestimating the importance of employee engagement could mean your organization misses out on these gains. This will make it more difficult to compete in your industry, both in terms of talent acquisition and profitability.
1) Employee recognition curbs expenses. Gallup calculates that an organization with 10K employees can save $16.1 million in turnover costs annually when recognition is included as part of the culture.
2) Great employee recognition practices and tools make employees feel valued, and elevate employee engagement. Deloitte research shows that employee productivity, performance, and engagement are 14% higher in organizations with formal recognition programs, compared with those without them.
3) Effective recognition programs are linked with lower voluntary turnover (by as much as 31% less according to Bersin & Associates). Investing in rewards and recognition is less costly than hiring to backfill vacant positions and frees up staff to concentrate on building your organizational culture.
One of the keys to putting your company data to work is having a reliable, accurate way to measure employee engagement. Collecting and using real data to make infomed decisions and assess ROI allows the numbers to do the talking. Hubspot outlines how HR leaders can measure engagement in both quantitative and qualitative ways. This will provide the best possible mix of data on which to base your important strategies around the employee experience, productivity, and organizational health.
Typically, HR is closest to employee engagement levels, with individual business units generally feeling the impacts (positive and negative). This means it is crucial for the C-suite to prioritize employee engagement as part of the organization’s broader strategies around business health, sustainability, and competitive advantage. Businesses perform better when employee rewards and recognition are an integral part of organizational culture — and that’s only possible with support from executive leadership.
The last few years have been tumultuous to say the least. Many of us have changed how and where we work, and how we interact and connect with one another. As we emerge from this life-altering pandemic, HR leaders are asking Inspirus for workplace strategies and best practices to ensure their returning employees are safe, happy, and productive, and that their employee engagement levels ramp back up to pre-pandemic levels and beyond.
A Deloitte survey revealed there was no indication of a permanent shift to full-time virtual work in the ‘new normal.’ Many remote workers claim they would consider leaving their job if they were forced to go back to an office before they were ready.
So, how can C-suite executives shift their mindset from survive to thrive and prepare their organization for other potential disasters? Some of our best practices will give you a starting point.
Zoom polled over 1,500 U.S.-based remote workers to better understand what they feel about their work future and returning to the office. Of those who worked remotely in 2021, roughly two-thirds (65%) said that a hybrid work environment was ideal.
To determine if and how a hybrid model will work for your organization, start by forming a cross-functional planning team to address the needs of various departments, workforce segments and geographical locations. Then, solicit feedback from all employees via a survey. Once intel and requirements have been gathered, your leadership team will be ready to develop and implement a return-to-work plan.
If your organization adopts a hybrid working approach (or continues with a remote workforce), be sure to craft an extension of your formal work policy that covers remote work. This will provide crystal-clear guidelines and set expectations of when employees need to be at their desk, wherever they sit.
Now is a great time to conduct a survey to gain insight into how your employees are feeling, what challenges they are facing and what they need to manage change and to perform better, both at work and at home. Inspirus has an employee feedback tool directly integrated within its technology platform, Connects. Employee Voice allows organizations to anonymously collect feedback, analyze the results, and take the best course of action to address employee sentiment and adjust their people strategy. A dedicated email address could suffice, but may not be adopted as widely. Anonymity is critical to providing employees with the freedom to speak honestly without repercussion.
Managers should share any feedback collected with employees and create an action plan to implement some of their suggestions as soon as possible.
According to Pew Research Center, 58% of employees said they would look for a new position if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. So how can you retain valuable employees? Make employees’ happiness a priority — which is why we recently partnered with The Happiness Index. Here are some common ways your managers can retain high performers and encourage a happy team:
Hosting company-wide meetings and social events on video platforms will allow everyone to participate and feel connected to the larger organization. In order to boost morale and keep your workforce connected through shared experiences, host a weekly social event, like a trivia game where all employees can look forward to participating and have fun conversing with their colleagues.
Get more best practices in our latest eBook.
Employees are nervous about being back in the office. In a recent study from UpCity, 53% of employees said they would feel some or a high level of stress about going back to work in an office. Some reasons for this anxiety include continued concern about the COVID-19 virus and its variants, unvaccinated co-workers, and a reluctance to change after finally settling into a ‘new normal’ of working remotely.
Given the fact that it’s much easier and cost-effective to keep employees than hire new ones (especially now), it’s important that management understand the anxiety their staff is feeling and do everything they can to make them feel comfortable returning to the workplace. Here are a few suggestions:
Let your employees know you really want to know how they’re feeling about coming back to the office and their major concerns. This could be done through a corporate-wide confidential survey, individual department meetings, or one-on-one meetings between a manager and their direct reports.
Truly listening to people makes them feel validated. Some people may still be concerned about being exposed to the virus if they live with an elderly or vulnerable person. Listening to their specific concerns not only makes them feel better, but it gives you a roadmap to address the issues that are holding them back and perhaps even causing them to consider seeking employment elsewhere.
In a recent report from Businessolver, 1/3 of employees said they would switch companies for more empathy, 40% would work longer hours and 56% said they would stay with a company if they felt valued. What this tells us is that making empathy a part of your overall corporate mission statement could be one of the highest impact changes the C-suite could make to keep valuable employees motivated and loyal.
For those employees with continuing concerns about future pandemics and global crises, you need to clearly communicate all the steps you’re taking as a company to protect them and their families.
Explain why your company feels it’s important to have employees back in the office and be completely transparent with your messaging. Transparency, flexibility and communication can go a long way in quelling anxious feelings and motivating employees to stay.
Asking your employees to come back into the office after almost two years of working from home is asking them to step outside of their comfort zone. The best thing you can do as a leader to help your employees feel comfortable coming back is to create a strong team culture through a new office routine. Capitalize on the camaraderie that so many people enjoy about being in the office by implementing an employee recognition program. The key is to create a positive and rewarding routine that makes your staff look forward to coming into the office every day.
Given the “Great Resignation” and current state of the job market, it is now more important than ever to emphasize employee appreciation so your employees feel appreciated (and get rewarded) for a job well done.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s to be flexible. Be flexible with your employees, your protocols, and your overall business plan. Demonstrating flexibility as a leader and as an organization can have a huge impact on employee morale and employee willingness to return to the office.
A ‘new normal.’ That’s the phrase everyone is using when discussing post-pandemic life. The reality is, anything resembling “normal” in the workplace might not happen for quite some time. In a survey conducted by Deloitte and Fortune, only 1 in 10 CEOs (11%) were confident that the effects of the pandemic would be over by mid-2022. More than 1 in 3 (35%) believe that won’t happen until the end of 2023.
Now is the time for leaders to re-imagine everything. The pandemic has forced employees to think differently about how they work, and even why they work. In order to survive in a postCOVID world and excel as a leader, your ‘new normal’ will need to be all about engagement, empathy, and fully embracing the hybrid work model. Here’s why:
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reported that recruiting is the number one challenge companies are currently facing. In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” leaders are struggling to keep employees engaged. Here are two ways:
According to a Catalyst study, 76% of employees reported a higher level of engagement when they experienced empathy from their leaders, and 61% said they were able to be more innovative. Leading with empathy requires you to drop your executive hat at the door, and put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Once you get where your employees are coming from, you will then be able to lead by example and embody the behavior they want to see.
Be open to the different ways employees want to work and then implement a flexible work arrangement that allows people to work remotely, in the office, or a combination of both. Treat employees like the adults they are — they can make their own decisions on what type of schedules work best for them. If you don’t allow remote or hybrid options, you will risk losing your best talent.
A recent McKinsey report found that almost 90% of employees who took new jobs did not have to relocate because more companies are now “location agnostic.” They got used to being able to do their jobs from home and enjoyed better work-life balance. If you try to force them to come back into the office after they’ve proven they can be productive remotely, you’re going to lose them to another company who can and will accommodate their wishes.
A post-pandemic ‘new normal’ will mean different things to different organizations. It’s up to each leader to take everything they’ve learned over the last two years and use that knowledge to transform the future of their business. Transformation begins and ends with your employees. Leadership must find new ways to engage their staff, lead with empathy, and give people the freedom to work the way they want. It’s the only way companies will be able to survive this and any future pandemics.
One of the many things we learned from COVID-19 was just how truly unprepared most companies were for a pandemic and the overall effect it would have on employees, office culture, and the bottom line. C-suite leaders are now tasked with how to make the workplace itself more resilient if it wants to survive another pandemic or natural disaster. Here are a few suggestions for how leaders can create a more resilient workplace.
Shared experiences spur process innovation. Nothing strengthens culture more than diversity and the experiences that people of different backgrounds bring to the table. Poll your leadership team to drill down and find ‘lessons learned’ during the pandemic. Find out how managers and employees practiced resilience as they were forced out of their comfort zones, and had to adjust to working from home and deal with loss and anxiety. By incorporating these shared experiences and lessons into your business plan going forward, you will motivate and inspire your employees, as they will feel part of something greater than just collecting a paycheck.
Technology has changed the way we communicate. It doesn’t matter where your employees sit these days, technology is the glue that holds them together.
Providing new ways for your staff to interact, appreciate each other, and share daily wins is critical to overall morale and productivity. It is now vital to include technology as part of the new office culture. Investing in technology that’s faster, more secure, and that helps keep your employees connected and engaged will be an important part of any resilience plan going forward.
Creating an inclusive culture and community is not about a location, it’s about people. The typical nine-to-five office environment is no more, and it’s time the C-suite embraces all the different ways people like to work in order to create a more inclusive workplace. Use employee engagement technology, like Inspirus® Connects, to keep everyone connected. Be the leader that reshapes what “community” and “culture” looks like in your organization.
Workplace resilience is about identifying employee sentiment and behavior and managing change. To keep your finger on the pulse of how healthy your culture is, give your employees a voice. One way to do that is with Employee Voice — an “always on,” anonymous feedback tool integrated into the Connects employee engagement technology platform.
Organizations that encourage employees to share their opinions and ideas, and then incorporate that feedback into their engagement strategy will create a comfortable, inclusive environment where everyone feels heard.
Creating a new office culture doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, commitment from the C-suite and a continuous feedback loop in order to fine tune the ‘new normal’. By leveraging what we’ve learned over the past few years, leaders can create a much more resilient and inclusive workplace in which employees are empowered to do their best work and perform at their highest levels.
With so many companies in HR technology talking about employee engagement, it’s easy to be skeptical — you may even be sick of hearing about it. Regardless of your personal opinions, employee engagement is no longer just a HR concern, it is now on the radar of C-suite executives. Consulting giants like Aon are positioning employee engagement at the center of an emerging talent imperative for organizations. Nearly three out of every four business executives cite employee engagement as very important to achieving business success.
But as organizations look at operationalizing employee engagement, they’re running into some inevitable barriers. Programs specifically designed to engage employees — like safety, recognition or wellness — are spread across disparate technology solutions and departmental responsibilities. Understanding the current state of engagement is challenging enough, but designing employee engagement strategies that work together toward a common goal have been challenging, to say the least.
Individually, recognition, enterprise communication, well-being, community involvement, and surveys and analytics are all important. But they can be even more powerful when they work together.
Until just a few years ago, organizations didn’t have a choice: they had to manage these different technologies separately. Even if the goal was to break down silos, create alignment and have employee engagement strategies operate in a seamless platform, it simply wasn’t possible.
Today, that’s changed. The ability to have engagement solutions under a single platform is here. But what is the benefit of unifying engagement solutions under one platform? Where do we start?!
Having consistency — a single login and a consistent navigation and user experience — is an enormous benefit, not just for the organization but also for employees, managers, executives, HR, IT and system administrators.
A single platform is simple to use and provides one destination for employees to remember. Whether they want to recognize a peer, provide feedback on how they are feeling or learn about a company initiative, they can do it all from a single destination.
A modern engagement platform, like Inspirus Connects, is easily adopted and provides a positive overall user experience that keeps employees engaged and coming back. By keeping employees engaged, organizations see higher performance levels and retention rates, which add to the bottom line.
Get the most out of your platform, and employees, using a unified technology that provides a holistic view of your engagement programs. Companies can use employee surveys, like those integrated within Connects, to gather data that can improve the performance of programs in place and the people who use them.
While a single platform unites programs, there should still be opportunities to tailor programs to the unique needs of the organization. Having specific goals and strategies are the key to making each program work for everyone in the organization — and you need a system that takes that into consideration.
Finally, analytics can truly measure the full picture of each program. Get insights about recognition, culture, well-being and more — all in one place, without having to log into multiple systems or pull out a spreadsheet.
When employee engagement comes together under a single technology umbrella, it creates a better experience for employees and a whole host of benefits for organizations looking to get the most out of their engagement programs. All it takes is the right technology partner to make it a reality