The Importance of Engaging Employees in Strategic Planning
If your business is like most, strategic planning begins with leaders and is carried out by the staff. Unless you get buy-in from your employees, achieving organizational success is difficult. This is just one of the many reasons why employee engagement is so important in strategic planning. It allows leaders to tap into the vast knowledge and experience of their staff, which empowers more effective decision-making.
When leadership is on the same page as staff, the execution of initiatives is much more likely to be successful. Learn the benefits of employee involvement in strategic planning, challenges you may encounter, and techniques for honing your employee engagement strategy.
Benefits of Employee Involvement in Strategic Planning
When employees feel left out of the decision-making process, the whole company suffers. Many studies have found that lower engagement coincides with higher absenteeism, reduced productivity, and a decline in profitability.
A recent Gallup study stresses the importance of employee engagement. When asked which aspect they would change to make their business a better place to work, 41% of respondents said engagement and company culture, making it the number one answer above pay and benefits.
By including your team members in the strategic planning process, you ensure buy-in for better execution of initiatives. This step leads to multiple advantages for your business in addition to a more engaged workforce, including:
- Decreased absenteeism
- Heightened employee retention
- Increased job satisfaction
- Better employee health
- Low employee turnover
- Boost in profits
Creating a Culture of Employee Engagement
A strong connection lies between employee involvement and company culture. You want to foster a culture where open communication is praised, as this builds trust among employees.
One way to uphold open communications is by encouraging team members to contribute to strategic discussions. While you may have leadership-only meetings multiple times a month for strategic planning, consider opening one or two up to the entire organization. This allows employees to voice their opinions and concerns. Open communication can also drive innovation with decision-making.
Strategies for Engaging Employees in Strategic Planning
There will be some aspects of the strategic planning process that only leadership will handle, so you want to communicate to team members clearly and transparently about your progress with any initiatives.
One way to keep employees involved while updating them on strategic planning initiatives is by creating feedback surveys. For instance, your leadership team may be revisiting the organization’s vision or values. Instead of changing them without telling employees first, you can send out a survey to see what teams think about new vision statements and values. The same can be done for revised mission statements or goals for initiatives.
You may also consider hosting training sessions to help employees enhance their strategic thinking skills. This can give them more confidence to participate in business strategy and also serves as a great opportunity to keep them informed of new developments on the leadership side.
Effective Employee Engagement Techniques in Strategic Planning
Although keeping staff abreast of leadership efforts and ensuring their input is valued matters, your employee engagement strategy also needs a means for them to bring their ideas to the table.
Surveys come in handy here, as well. You can use them to get employee feedback about a specific action plan or to leverage their insights to augment action plans. If you want to engage employees more directly, consider having workshops and brainstorming sessions where team members can generate ideas for strategic planning.
Creating cross-functional teams also helps support staff engagement. Working primarily with others in their department completing day-to-day tasks, employees may lose sight of the bigger picture. Cross-functional teams contain workers from different departments, such as sales, marketing, and human resources, working toward a common goal.
The combination of these different areas of expertise can boost problem-solving, making it more likely to realize an organization’s goals. What’s more, having employees from different departments work together can ensure more voices are heard, increasing engagement levels.
Overcoming Staff Engagement Challenges
One reason a business may choose not to include its employees in decision-making or strategic planning is that diverse opinions can make it difficult to settle on a specific initiative. Additionally, conflicting interests may interfere with your employee engagement strategy. For instance, a member of the sales team may propose an idea that benefits their department, but the same idea could negatively impact the production team.
How do you handle these differing perspectives and needs? One way is to lead by example. The leadership team can set the tone for strategic planning by expressing that ideas should be best for the company — not just one employee or department. Many businesses also use external facilitators to help with strategic planning, and these individuals can provide impartial viewpoints for ensuring initiatives are fair while guiding your plan in the right direction.
Another concern is time and resource constraints. As beneficial as hosting training sessions and company-wide team meetings can be, you may worry productivity will suffer or you won’t have the resources to allocate to such activities. In these cases, the solution is to ensure departments know all budget requests must relate to a strategic goal. Employees are kept continuously aware of business initiatives in a way that fits naturally into day-to-day operations.
Any new development is bound to be met with some resistance. Often, the culprit behind this reluctance is disengaged employees. You can achieve a more positive attitude from employees about the changes strategic planning will bring by explaining what exactly will change and why, as well as ensuring your dedication to maintaining a supportive work environment throughout periods of transition and uncertainty.
Measuring Team Member Engagement in Strategic Planning
As you involve workers more and more in strategic planning, you will need metrics to assess the success of your employee engagement strategy. Feedback will also help you improve future initiatives.
To start, conduct an employee engagement survey and see how the staff feels about their level of involvement in strategic planning. Pulse surveys can be ideal as they can act as regular check-ins with employees. These surveys contain a few questions about whatever leadership chooses to measure. One pulse survey may ask respondents how they feel about employee engagement, while another may ask about a particular initiative. They provide a more accurate answer to how employees feel right now than quarterly or annual surveys will reveal.
You can also look at some of the key indicators of employee engagement to measure your success. The following can reveal engagement levels:
- Employee retention
- Employee satisfaction
- Employee performance
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
- Work-life balance (how easily do employees feel they can achieve it)
- Recognition program (systems in place to ensure employees are recognized)
Case Studies: Employee Engagement Success Stories
When an employee engagement strategy works, businesses can experience the organizational success they wish to achieve. The following details several case studies of real companies that implemented an engagement plan to positive effect. See what meaningful employee involvement can do for your business.
Following a period of significant change, the atmosphere at Harvard Technology was full of uncertainty. The result was diminished employee engagement and feedback from staff indicated a desire for better communication between leadership and employees. Further investigation revealed that many employees were unaware of their existing benefits packages or did not know they could receive them.
In response, Harvard Technology created a teaser campaign to reassure employees that their voices had been heard and utilized posters to reveal an upcoming employee benefits and communications platform. While one poster spoke of the new initiative, the other gave details about the exciting features of the platform. The strategy helped generate anticipation among employees, unifying teams and making them feel more engaged.
Lifetime Healthcare was facing a company culture dilemma following several leadership changes. To combat this challenge, the organization created a strategic recognition program.
Through this program, employees could show their appreciation for one another and their work on different initiatives. This helped forge a culture where recognition happened continuously, increasing desired behavior and contributing to the day-to-day objectives that supported short and long-term goals.
JCB Group is a UK-based dealership of new and used vehicles that prioritizes friendly, professional customer service. Its workforce is very diverse, encompassing graduate engineers to older men who have been part of the business for years. Addressing such a diverse group proved difficult, and the lack of a unified method for communication led to low ratings for employee experience and benefits.
JCB Group knew the issue and what was needed. Employees required a centralized solution to keep up with internal developments and how they affected their roles. They also needed a way to better understand and play a part in daily decision-making. This solution would need to account for the nearly 300 employees working across more than 12 sites.
The result of this dilemma was the creation of JCB Connect, a platform that provides education on JCB Group’s strategic planning and helps foster a stronger company culture. The platform sees weekly updates, with the most important information appearing at the top of the main page. JCB Connect even assists with the employee life cycle, as new hires are introduced to them during orientation.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
A household name, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts found it challenging to engage its hundreds of employees spread across numerous locations. Specifically, the company wanted to centralize its employee recognition, perks, and communications in one place. It also wanted to boost employee usage of its offerings and needed a solution that aligned with its culture and values.
The answer was creating a comprehensive employee engagement platform, The KK Mixer, where Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shared important communications, employee discounts, information about reward and recognition, and onboarding content.
Looking at these three case studies, you will notice some patterns. First, much of the challenge with employee engagement is accommodating the vast and varied needs of employees in different roles, sometimes operating in entire other locations. Second, beyond strategic planning, many companies wish to invest in employee engagement to better communicate with workers and inform them of benefits programs.
These examples also reveal that successful implementations take an inclusive approach, thinking of the most effective way to share information and unify diverse teams. Additionally, a winning employee engagement strategy emphasizes how vital each staff member is to decision-making, whether by explaining how their role will change under a new initiative or by highlighting their dedication through recognition efforts.
Sustaining Employee Engagement in Strategic Planning
There are plenty of reasons to invest in an employee engagement strategy, from boosting support with initiatives and retention to lowering absenteeism and potentially experiencing higher profits. To avoid seeing disengaged employees, ensure there is open communication about strategic planning and implement techniques to glean insights from team members.
As your strategies turn into action, make sure you maintain a continuous dialogue about your goals as they evolve. You also want to reinforce the importance of your goal to ensure all teams stay on track. As employees contribute to your strategic initiatives, reward their work to show staff their efforts are seen and appreciated.
Promoting a culture where learning and development are praised is also essential for ongoing employee engagement. When team members believe asking questions is okay, it makes it easier for them to remain involved in decision-making even once specific initiatives reach their conclusion.
Augment Employee Engagement with Spider Impact
The strategic planning process includes many parts, and it’s important to have engaged employees at every step of the way. Spider Strategies offers software called Spider Impact that was custom-built to accomplish just this. Book a demo to learn more, or schedule your free test drive today.
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