Benefits and Compensation

How to Sell Engagement to Top Management

What Is Employee Engagement?

“A heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager, or coworkers that, in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work.” —The Conference Board

Branham, who is founder and principal of Keeping the People, Inc., offered his expertise at WorldatWork’s 2013 Total Rewards Conference and Exhibition held recently in Philadelphia.

Misconceptions About Employee Engagement*

Branham offers the following engagement myths:

  • Employees don’t want to be engaged. (They do.)
  • If we hire engaged employees, we don’t have to worry about reengaging them. (You have to keep working at it.)
  • Only managers are responsible for employee engagement. (Everyone is responsible for engagement.)

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Proven Payoffs of Employee Engagement

Branham notes that a Gallup Organization poll showed that employers with high engagement ratings experience:

  • 86% higher customer/client ratings
  • 70% less turnover
  • 70% higher productivity
  • 44% higher profitability
  • 78% better safety records

The Great Workplace Payoff

The most engaged companies had five times higher total shareholder return over     5 years than the least engaged companies, according to a Kenexa survey.

Branham offers the chart below to show how a stock investor would have fared should he or she have invested according to engagement, that is, status as a “best place to work,” over that 5-year period.

The Current State of Employee Engagement

Unfortunately, says Branham, many of today’s employees are not engaged. More specifically:

  • 50% would like to leave their jobs, including 25% of best performers. (Right Management)
  • 74% of departed employees cited a lack of employer engagement as their principal reason for leaving. (Harvard Business Review)
  • Disengaged employees are 24% less likely to quit than engaged employees. (Conference Board)

Branham’s research indicates that about 26 percent of employees are engaged, about 57 percent are not engaged, and about 18 percent are actively disengaged.

Some Events That Can Trigger Disengagement

  • No, or low, pay increase
  • Conflict with a coworker
  • Unexpectedly low performance rating
  • Being passed over for promotion
  • Hiring manager replaced by new manager they don’t like
  • Being asked to do something unethical
  • Realizing they are underpaid compared to others in the same job
  • Being pressured to make unreasonable family/personal sacrifices
  • Being asked to perform a menial duty
  • Petty and unreasonable enforcement of authority
  • Incident of sexual harassment or racial discrimination
  • Close colleague quits or is terminated

What Engaged Employees Say:

  • “This is a great place to work—telling the stories of what I do at work to my friends and family is just about my favorite thing to do because they are always in disbelief….”
  • “Whether we win this award or not, I and everyone on staff knows how lucky we are to work here. We have a great staff with incredible teamwork and a boss who is one of the top reasons this is such a great place. It would take A LOT for me to leave.”

What Disengaged Employees Say:

  • “Best place to work??? Are you kidding!”
  • “The new leaders don’t value employees and what they can do. Employees, in turn, don’t work as hard and have been leaving.”
  • “Upper management is unethical and doesn’t care for the employees that work so hard for them…. The office slogan is Attrition is our Mission!”

You need a go-to resource, and our editors recommend the “everything-HR-in-one website,” As an example of what you will find, here are some policy recommendations concerning e-mail, excerpted from a sample policy on the website:

Privacy. The director of information services can override any individual password and thus has access to all e-mail messages in order to ensure compliance with company policy. This means that employees do not have an expectation of privacy in their company e-mail or any other information stored or accessed on company computers.

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E-mail review. All e-mail is subject to review by management. Your use of the   e-mail system grants consent to the review of any of the messages to or from you in the system in printed form or in any other medium.

Solicitation. In line with our general policy, e-mail must not be used to solicit for outside business ventures, personal parties, social meetings, charities, membership in any organization, political causes, religious causes, or other matters not connected to the company’s business.

We should point out that this is just one of hundreds of sample policies on the site. (You’ll also find analysis of laws and issues, job descriptions, and complete training materials for hundreds of HR topics.)

You can examine the entire program free of any cost or commitment. It’s quite remarkable—30 years of accumulated HR knowledge, tools, and skills gathered in one place and accessible at the click of a mouse.

What’s more, we’ll supply a free downloadable copy of our special report, Critical HR Recordkeeping—From Hiring to Termination, just for looking at If you’d like to try it at absolutely no cost or obligation to continue (and get the special report, no matter what you decide), go here.

1 thought on “How to Sell Engagement to Top Management”

  1. Thanks for the reminder that engagement is an ongoing process–you can’t just conduct one engagement activity and think you’re all set.

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