5 Things a CEO can do to Improve Employee Engagement

March 30, 2017 Andrew Larsen

Employee engagement has historically been the responsibility of HR. As business leaders recognize the strategic value HR can bring to an organization, the pressure for HR to increase engagement has also increased. Yet, as business leaders pour more and more resources into their HR departments, they may forget that responsibility for employee engagement should be divided among several different individuals in a company, one of whom will always be the CEO. After all, a disengaged workforce is often the result of a bad relationship between managers and employees, and a CEO can play a major role in setting the tone of that relationship.

For the CEO who is unsure of how to assist with employee engagement, here are five methods to consider trying:

1. Setting clear goals and expectations
A nasty roadblock to engagement is unclear goals and expectations. It’s a struggle for employees to engage in a project they don’t see going anywhere. Setting clear goals is the light at the end of the tunnel. It gives something for employees to move towards.

In the Harvard Business Review, Jim Harter, Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being for Gallup states, “In our Q12 research, Gallup has discovered that clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance.” If clear goals are the light, expectations set the speed at which an employee reaches it.

2. Give public and private recognition
Authentic, individualized recognition is one of the most powerful tools a CEO has for boosting employee engagement. Employees can recognize insincere praise, so offering words of praise must be done without the intent to boost engagement. Rather it is something that a CEO will need to adapt into behavior, where recognizing employees becomes a natural act. In short, when praising employees, don’t have an angle.

3. Be transparent
Employees are more willing to trust leadership and engage with the company when they can trust their employer. While opening up can be a leap of faith for employers, the reward is usually increased loyalty from employees, thus increasing engagement rates.

4. Make the workplace fun
A corporate culture of professionalism can coexist with a fun workplace. Adding appropriate humor into presentations or simply laughing at office jokes can lighten the workplace and relieve stress. Group lunches, walks on breaks, birthday celebrations and much more can help employees be happier at work.

5. Improve communication
Good employee communication is a delicate balance: too much contact and employees may feel micromanaged; not enough, and they may feel ignored. People Metrics gives four suggestions for improving the quality of employee communication:

  • Consider your tone
  • Clarify concepts
  • Enter every communication with an objective in mind
  • Don’t let emotions get in the way

Employee engagement is not something HR can do on its own. CEOs are in a unique position to influence their workforce in positive ways and bear the responsibility to create a workplace where employees are engaged not just with their jobs, but with the company they work for. 


About the Author

Andrew Larsen

Andrew is the Marketing Communications Specialist for Zuman, the one solution for HR, payroll, and benefits administration that supports growing small to midsize businesses.

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