How to get Leadership Buy-in to your Employee Engagement Strategy

7 min read
Sep 6, 2018

The concept of employee engagement has evolved into a key area of focus for employers. A solid engagement strategy has been proven to be an effective method for improving both company culture and productivity.

After designing an employee engagement strategy, the first step to deploying it is to introduce your strategy to the leadership within your company. An essential aspect to this step is providing leadership with a solid understanding of the strategy and benefits held by both employee engagement strategies in general and the specific strategies your company will be implementing.

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Help Leadership Understand the Benefits of Employee Engagement


First and foremost, your leadership must have a thorough understanding of what exactly is meant by the term “employee engagement.” According to corporate executive experts of the Corporate Leadership Council, employee engagement is “the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization and how hard they work and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.” The initial step of demonstrating the importance of employee engagement to the leadership of your company should ensure that all aspects of this definition are communicated.

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At this point in time, it’s essential that you demonstrate the full benefits of an effective employee engagement strategy to your company’s leadership. Research has shown that these benefits include a plethora of things such as, “employees who are more productive, profitable, safer, healthier, less likely to turnover, less likely to be absent, and more willing to engage in discretionary efforts.” As you prepare to help your company’s leadership to understand the value of employee engagement, make sure you consider ways of presenting each of these benefits. You might even explore the research associated with the benefits to provide your leaders with solid evidence that backs up each of the claims you might have regarding employee engagement.


Demonstrate the Financial Impact of Employee Engagement


Research at Florida International University demonstrates the existence of a correlation between profit margins and levels of employee engagement. This correlation is completely logical; employees who are happy to come to work and perform assigned tasks are more likely to show up to work, and more likely to go above and beyond. This means fewer employees calling off work for unnecessary reasons, fewer employees who are distracted by their phones, and fewer employees sneaking extra breaks throughout the day, to name a few examples. As employees become less engaged in non-work activities and more engaged in their work, their individual productivity increases, thus increasing overall productivity and company profits.


In addition to having a positive effect on the business, effective employee engagement strategies are likely to decrease certain costs within the company. One key cost within this category is associated with turnover. According to studies done by the Center for American Progress, the cost of employee turnover varies based on the role of the employee and their salary/wage level. In the study, the CAP found the following:

  • For positions earning less than $30,000 per year, the average cost of replacement was found to be 16% of annual salary. For example, it would cost $3,328 to replace an employee earning $10/hour.
  • For positions that earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, the cost of replacement was found to be 20% of annual salary.
  • For executives earning high salaries, the cost of replacement was found to be 213% of annual salary. For example, an executive who earns $100,000 would cost $213,000 to replace.

Costs that employers should factor into turnover include indirect costs such as knowledge lost when employees leave, time spent finding a replacement, and time spent training new employees. All these costs associated with turnover can be eliminated by the implementation of an effective employee engagement strategy.

Two women discussing benefits of having an employee engagement strategy


When discussing the benefits of an employee engagement strategy with company leadership, be sure to stress the financial aspects previously mentioned. A solid engagement strategy will have the dual purpose of growing company profits by increasing rates of productivity while simultaneously decreasing company costs associated with turnover. The combination of these factors could have a tremendous effect on the overall profit margins generated by your company, and this could be a major selling point when it comes to securing the support of leadership as you work to implement an employee engagement strategy.


Provide Leadership with Proven Concepts


To help your company’s leadership visualize the positive effect employee engagement can have, it may be helpful to provide them with a general idea of different aspects of engagement that other business leaders have implemented. While there are a variety of different engagement strategies, experts have narrowed down 10 key areas of employee engagement. Review these areas as you develop your own engagement strategy and present these key areas to leadership to demonstrate the different ways in which they could see company improvement resulting from the implementation of an engagement strategy.


The top 10 C’s of employee engagement:

  1. Connect: Provide ways for employees to connect with management and company leaders.
  2. Careers: Provide work that is meaningful, challenging, and allows for career advancement.
  3. Clarity: Communicate clear vision for the company and for individual employees.
  4. Convey: Provide clear expectations of employees and feedback regarding employee functioning.
  5. Congratulate: Provide immediate recognition and praise for good performance.
  6. Contribute: Help employees to see how their contributions matter to the organization.
  7. Control: Provide employees with control over the flow and pace of their work.
  8. Collaborate: Encourage the development of cooperative teams.
  9. Credibility: Strive to develop and maintain an ethical company reputation.
  10. Confidence: Inspire confidence in employees by ensuring that leaders exemplify high ethical and performance standards.


Making your company’s leadership aware of these general areas can help to clarify the concepts associated with enacting an employee engagement strategy. Leadership may also be able to use this information to identify ways in which they would like to see employee engagement improve. This may prove to be an effective motivator when it comes to encouraging your company’s leaders to buy in to your engagement strategy.


Identify Employee Engagement Problems and Solutions Within Your Organization


As you develop a company-specific employee engagement strategy and then seek to promote its implementation among company leadership, it’s imperative that you identify the specific employee engagement problems within your organization. One of the first steps of this process is to conduct anonymous company-wide surveys. This will allow you to collect valuable information that can be analyzed and presented to leadership.

Company-wide surveys can help to uncover hidden or unspoken flaws within the organization that are inhibiting productivity. By presenting this information to leadership, you can make them aware of any potential problems. This will then provide you with the opportunity to present your employee engagement strategy as a method for solving these problems.


Create an Executive Summary of Your Company’s Employee Engagement Strategy


Create an executive summary that explains your company’s employee engagement plan. This summary should contain concise overviews of any current engagement problems, an analysis of those problems, and recommendations and justifications for new employee engagement programs that can offer solutions. A well-written executive summary can be a useful document to present to company leadership as it serves to simultaneously raise awareness about the existence of a problem and propose a solution to said problem.

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If you’ve conducted company-wide surveys regarding employee engagement issues, you’ll have valuable metrics to include in the executive summary. This will allow you to create an accurate picture of your company’s current environment when it comes to engagement and morale. Surveys will also help you develop a plan to create a work environment that promotes employee engagement and solves any problems that exist within the workplace.


Demonstrate the Efficacy of the Programs to Leadership


As you institute new employee engagement strategies, continue surveying employees to help you determine the efficacy of the strategies being implemented. Collecting data regularly will help you in a variety of ways. Firstly, data collection will help guide employee engagement programs as they develop by distinguishing if certain methods are more effective than others. Secondly, you’ll be able to use the gathered information to demonstrate to company leadership that the employee engagement programs enacted have created a more harmonious workplace.


Be sure to collect data regarding any fiscal improvements that may be related to the newly-instituted programs. Your employee engagement programs should simultaneously cut costs and increase profits, so measure and record that these financial activities are occurring. You can then share these records with company leadership to demonstrate the fiscal benefits of initiating employee engagement strategies. This may help to garner their support for any ongoing programs and encourage them to support future employee engagement endeavors.


Get Leadership to Buy-In


As you begin to approach your company’s leadership regarding the creation and initiation of employee engagement strategies, develop a plan for presenting the information that will help leadership to make the best decisions possible. Begin with a general overview of what the engagement strategy is, along with the benefits that the strategy can hold when properly implemented. This will help leadership to picture the potential positive outcomes the strategy can hold. Be sure to include strategies that have positive evidence-based outcomes to demonstrate that any strategy implemented will have a lasting and positive effect on the company. Follow that up with company-specific financial metrics that show your company’s current and potential fiscal positions, particularly about the financial impact of employee engagement.


Ensure that you initiate methods of gathering metrics regarding current states of employee engagement throughout the process. This will serve to provide you with an initial baseline of the company in addition to allowing you to demonstrate to leadership that your company has a need for engagement programs. Continuing to measure employee engagement throughout the initiation of the program will help you to develop your program and to provide leadership with evidence of the efficacy of the strategy. Following through with each of these steps will help you garner the support of company leadership for your employee engagement strategy.



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