Additionally, CHROs should possess strong business acumen and be able to convince senior leaders to invest in HR and company policies, practices and programs necessary to help create a high-performing culture.
The business case for high engagement and strong leadership is compelling. Research has consistently found that highly engaged workforces boost productivity, profits, customer satisfaction and quality.
For example, Whole Foods has become an annual winner of Fortune’s Best Places to Work award. The company is widely known for its customer service and profits. Its culture focuses on engagement, and this starts at the top and trickles down. For example, leaders allow employees to help determine salaries, strive to make employees feel valued, provide generous benefits and practice a strong promote-from-within approach. Shareholders have been rewarded with stock appreciation significantly higher than industry standards.
Ultimate Software has also been recognized as a company that has encouraged and developed high engagement levels. It even appointed a manager of employee engagement who focuses on this full time.
Top leaders work to keep their talent motivated, promote collaboration and innovation, and ensure that employees know they’re valued and directly connected to the company’s success.
The key challenge for many CHROs is to get senior leadership to believe in employee engagement and employees to trust senior leadership.
Stanford University’s 2013 CEO Performance Evaluation Survey found that boards typically hold CEOs and their leaders accountable for financial metrics. Factors related to employee development and engagement are often considered to be less important. Ideally, the CEO and senior leadership team possess the emotional intelligence and values to create high-performing work cultures. Otherwise, the CHRO has an uphill battle. These five tips can help:
Create a healthy level of dissatisfaction with the present state in the company. Is your team content with your company’s results? Have members become complacent? Regularly solicit employee input through interviews, forums and focus groups. Use comparisons to competitors and industry benchmarks — as well as feedback from customers — to help communicate the need for continual changes and improvements. Leaders and employees must believe that a better state exists, and that it will be rewarding for them and the company.
Communicate a compelling vision. Is your CEO’s vision inviting, inspirational and understandable? Is the CEO regularly and effectively communicating his or her vision to employees? Are other leaders also communicating this vision to their teams? It’s vitally important to get the word out with a compelling vision that inspires employees and motivates them to change.
Be sure the team has bought into the game plan. If employees contribute to the plan, they’ll feel more invested. Seek employee input on how to achieve critical goals and milestones.
Instill a sense of accountability in your corporate culture. Are employees being held to high standards, or are they just getting by without performing? Do you reward high performers? Instill accountability for better results as your company moves toward specific goals; otherwise your team may become complacent and unproductive.
Ensure employees are engaged. There’s a difference between feeling satisfied and truly being engaged. Engagement takes satisfaction to the next level. To increase employee engagement, provide training, opportunities for personal and professional development, mentoring and personally fulfilling work. Increasingly, employees also want their companies to demonstrate commitment to a social mission — the environment, the community or other meaningful causes.
CHROs should champion a corporate culture that focuses on employee engagement because that has a direct correlation to a company’s productivity and bottom-line results. They should demonstrate to their senior management teams the need to look beyond just the hard numbers attached to short-term results and focus on the harder-to-quantify area of employee engagement as well. By boosting engagement, companies will boost their overall performance.