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Host CEO/VP-Level Monthly Discussions with Small Groups to Increase Employee Engagement


Welcome to “Summertime…and Improving Productivity Is Easy: Eight Ways to Increase Employee Engagement,” a ScottMadden eight-part series.

Based on a recent Gallup study,[1] we know that approximately 70% of employees are not engaged at work, resulting in lower job performance and loss of time and money for the organization. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll provide insights on how employee engagement impacts your business outcomes, as well as tangible examples of how you can increase engagement among your employees. Click here to see the complete series.

In the second installment of the series, we discuss how opening senior leaders’ doors to all levels of employees pays dividends when it comes to employee engagement.

Establishing Open Connections with Your Employees

One effective and efficient method for improving employee engagement is providing direct exposure to and interaction with key executives. A small, group conversation in a structured manner between two to six employees and the CEO, or other influential senior leaders, can deliver meaningful results.

This forum, typically 60 to 90 minutes in length, with the key executive listening and discussing everyone’s experiences at the organization, creates an atmosphere where folks can get to know one another, and helps all to understand that the executive is an authentic and approachable person. These discussions can occur over coffee or lunch, minimizing the expense while maximizing the experience for all and providing tangible benefits.

These get-togethers are often well suited for a cross-functional gathering of line and staff employees from various departments and groups across the company. Participants are explicitly shown that their perspective matters. It also serves as a means for the executive to explain decisions, clarify policies, and capture ideas. Further, although seemingly a minor point, having the event with all participants seated at a round table helps to eliminate the barrier of professional hierarchy. A simple round table can help to facilitate an open discussion with employees who are now more apt to share without reservations despite chatting with persons of potentially intimidating titles.

Organizing Your Group Discussions

A specific implementation approach we recommend is:

  • Explain the idea to a pool of C-Suite and key executives, sharing the opportunity and commitment
  • Schedule events at a consistent time and location to streamline future planning
  • Foster employee participation via publicizing the events and easy, online corporate intranet sign-up
  • Make the meeting agenda and structure clear, such as:
    • Welcome/Introductions/Expectations (5-10 minutes)
    • Quick Company Performance Update by Key Executive (5-10 minutes)
    • Around the Table Time – Two Minutes Per Person (15-20 minutes)
    • Feedback Forum (30-40 minutes) – “Ask the Executive”
    • Wrap-Up/Thanks for Attending/Next Steps (5-10 minutes)

So, what is the bottom line from doing this? At ScottMadden, we see organizations deriving direct benefits from these forums due to the increased number of cross-functional touchpoints sparked, additional clarification provided about company performance or corporate policies, ideas generated, problems elevated and discussed, and morale improved. These gatherings provide the chance for employees to get to know key executives at a personal level, share and discuss important concerns directly, and increase an employee’s sense of belonging within the organization.

[1] Gallup, “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis,” 2016

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