How to “Sell” Employee Engagement To The CEO

By Kevin on July 24, 2015 in employee engagement, leadership

Hi everyone. Kevin Kruse here with another answer to a reader-submitted question. Eric writes, “I’m working on getting the owner (we’re a small business) to recognize the importance of employee engagement, and to have him realize that he needs to do more.”

Now whether you’re dealing with the owner of a small business or you’re trying to sell your engagement initiatives to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the challenge is the same. For someone who doesn’t already believe in engagement, it just might sound like you’re trying to make everybody happy or it’s something that’s going to cost a lot of money. They don’t quite get it.

The first thing to do is just make sure that you’re selling it, that the person you’re selling it to, the higher-ups, they understand that engagement isn’t just about making people happy, it’s about generating emotional commitment. When employees care, they give you that discretionary effort. Sales people generate more sales. Service people provide better levels of service. Programmers are faster and create bug-free code. Whatever it is, engagement improves results. Make sure they understand that.

Like anything in sales, you want to focus on the benefits, not the features. Don’t go in firing away about, ”We need to do a survey and let’s form task forces and let’s do training.” That’s all the process. That’s all the work. You want to talk about the benefits of engagement. Whatever initiative the small business owner already has or the CEO already has, reducing workplace accidents, hitting a quarterly sales number, you can tie engagement to that benefit. It sounds scary to roll out engagement through the whole company. You can always say, “Hey, Ms. or Mr. CEO, let’s just do a pilot. I’ve got this idea on how an employee engagement initiative could increase customer service or increase sales. Let’s roll it out in a small division, small group, and see what kind of results we can get.”

Wrapping up again, make sure they really understand what you’re talking about when it’s engagement. Focus on the benefits they’re going to get. You can only sell it as a test or a pilot study. Eric, good luck with that. Thanks for the question. I hope all of you subscribe to my newsletter to get more Q&A’s at Like this on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, and send your own questions to [email protected]. Thanks.


Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0.

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