As an HR professional, you know your company’s employees and processes like the back of your hand. It’s also very likely that you have many ideas when it comes to improving processes and fostering a welcoming company culture that will result in greater ROI for your business.
Do you find yourself holding back on mentioning your ideas to the executive team simply due to previous failed attempts at getting your company’s executives to back up your initiatives?
Perhaps the reason why your initiatives are lacking in your executives’ support is because you have been presenting your proposed initiatives the wrong way. It is important to understand that executives are looking for the ROI of any investment in ongoing or future HR initiatives. But it can be difficult for a company’s leadership to recognize the ROI of HR initiatives — that’s where you come in.
Take this as an opportunity to shine and prove your value. It is not so difficult to encourage executives to get onboard with your HR initiatives when you know the best way to approach them.
There are three key ways you can win over the trust of your executive team when it comes to your HR initiatives:
1. Provide research backing your initiative
Executives are typically numbers- and data-driven in the majority of their decisions. They will want to see research and proof that your proposed initiative will result in increased value and production within the company.
Let’s explore two examples of how you can provide research that will back up your initiatives and gain the support of your executive team:
Example 1 – Employee Pay Increase Initiative
You have noticed that recruiting top talent for certain positions within your company has become more difficult due to the increasing salary expectations of talent. When you have managed to find a skilled candidate who is hired and joins your company’s team, you discover that the candidate does not stick around long due to receiving higher salary offers from other companies soon afterwards.
With this problem in mind, you would like to implement a pay increase for employees within the company in order to remain more competitive and continue recruiting and retaining better talent. Simply telling your company’s leadership that they should increase employee salaries within the company will not be enough for you to get the support behind this initiative that you’ll need.
In this situation, you will need to conduct your own research beforehand, looking at the salary rates other companies are offering to talent for similar positions. There are many ways to find out this information, but a great starting point is by asking any of your HR connections who work with other companies. If you have friends who are in HR, ask them what they typically see in salary rates for certain positions. Next, take a look at the HR membership groups you belong to. Do you have close connections within those groups? Don’t be afraid to ask them, as well.
Remember, if you explain to your HR connections that you are striving to implement a new change in employee salary in order to retain better talent, but that you simply need data in order to get executives on your side, then your fellow HR connections will likely sympathize with you. If you are experiencing difficulty in getting the support of your executive team, rest assured that you are not alone and that many of your HR connections are facing or have faced the same difficulty.
Once you have gathered your data on what other companies are paying employees, your next step is to begin creating your presentation.
Creating your presentation
Discuss your observations and feedback from new hires who are leaving. Chart or graph this feedback and the number of new hires leaving so that your executive team can clearly see the effect this is having on turnover.
Next, include your data comparison of salary rates within other companies. Also, be sure to chart or graph this information alongside your current employee salary rates. This will be a great visual guide for the executive team to see how much salaries differ from their company and other companies.
Now it’s time to display the benefits of offering more competitive salaries. You can do this by discussing how it will affect the company’s hiring and turnover rates, thus saving recruiting and hiring time, as well as saving the business money.
When discussing recruiting and hiring costs, factor in how much time it takes you to recruit for a position, and decide how much this costs you in time by calculating your hourly rate, as well as the additional costs of any recruiting tools that you would use during the process. Next, calculate the total new hire cost, factoring in the cost of background or drug testing, assessments, new hire orientation and training, etc. Total all of these amounts to get the total of what it costs the company each time they have to recruit and make a new hire.
A great example of showing the importance of hiring and turnover rates is the study reviewed by OrgVue on the recruiting initiative that Elkjøp implemented based on previously tracked data. If you are able to show executives what it is costing the company each time they lose a skilled employee due to non-competitive salary rates, you will get their attention and interest in your initiative.
Finally, it’s time to bring attention to the fact that offering more competitive salaries will allow the company to recruit and retain top talent, resulting in better quality of work for the business. Better quality of work from employees is something that will greatly interest your executive team.
Example 2 – Flexible Office Hours Initiative
Another example of researching data to support an HR initiative would be if you are interested in implementing new office hours, allowing employees to work longer days in order to take a day off during the week.
You might be interested in implementing this type of initiative after receiving feedback from employees. Perhaps employees have mentioned that more flexible work hours or a three-day weekend would greatly improve their work-life balance and increase their happiness in their jobs and the company. This could assist in maintaining the company’s retention of valued employees.
Of course, many executives will want to see data or proof of why this would be beneficial to the company before they agree to implement it. Once again, conduct your research by asking fellow HR professionals if they have made this implementation in their companies and what the results of this initiative were. Did production and billings increase or decrease? Were employees happier, causing turnover rates to decrease?
In this instance, you should also research other companies that have made this type of implementation. Take a look at companies that have been ranked as the best companies to work at. Have they implemented a similar schedule for their employees? Is this one of the things that their employees have said make a difference in their happiness with the company?
Creating your presentation
In the beginning of your presentation, mention your observations and feedback that you are receiving from existing employees, as well as any feedback from exiting employees. Just as in the previous example, chart or graph this information in order to show the impact this is having on turnover.
Provide the comparison data on companies that have had success in offering flexible schedules to their employees. If possible, provide what kind of effect this change had on each company’s production and overall employee happiness.
Finally, include the same recruiting and hiring costs data as referenced in Example 1. This will show the executive team what it’s costing the business when skilled employees leave due to needing a flexible schedule.
Researching and providing examples of other successful companies implementing the same initiative that you bring to the table will help you make your case and likely gain your executives’ support. Always provide examples of other companies and their success rates with similar initiatives.
2. Show data from your previous initiatives
If you’ve been in HR for some time, then it’s likely that you have implemented some previous successful initiatives. Perhaps your existing initiative is a tag-on to a previous one that has been implemented already.
In this case, you will want to present the data from the previous initiative, showing how successful it was and explaining how further improvements can make it even more successful. In order to do this, you will have to keep track of your data from that initiative. If you did not do this, you can always go back later and figure it out.
Let’s review an example of how you could use data from one of your previous initiatives to back an existing initiative you would like to present to your executive team.
Example – Pay Increase Initiative as Part 2 of Previous Talent Brand Initiative
Perhaps you made some changes to your recruiting process last year which resulted in better hires. After discovering that other companies were touting their employer brands in their job ads and seeing higher success rates of qualified applicants, you decided to modify your talent brand within your job advertisements to better reflect the flexible and relaxed culture that your company has.
The intention of this change was to increase the interest from higher skilled candidates so that there was a stronger desire amongst them to work at your company. Once you made these changes, you immediately noticed an increase in the number of qualified candidates who were applying to your job ads.
Now, one year after hiring the skilled talent, you have noticed a higher turnover rate. When asking employees why they are leaving, they inform you that they have received a better salary offer with another company. Your next thought is that by increasing the salary range, your company will not only be able to recruit top talent, but also retain that talent, which is key to the company’s success.
Before you approach your executives with your initiative to increase employee salaries, you will need to have data backing you up. You can include the feedback you receive from resigning talent, but this will not be enough to convince executives.
Creating your presentation
Begin your presentation by going through the data and results of your first talent brand initiative. If you do not already have data on the initiative, go back through your database and gather data on the number of qualified candidates received prior to the implementation of the new strategy.
This data should include the number of qualified candidates received before and after the initiative. Be sure to chart and graph all of this data, as visually displaying the data will greatly help you in swaying the executive team to your side of the table and getting them to understand how successful your strategy was.
Take notice of the charts and data that were included in the previously mentioned study by OrgVue. Executives will love percentages and dollar values you can assign as it applies to time and costs saved by recruiting better talent.
Present your data on what happens to skilled talent after they are hired. Chart or graph the feedback you have received from resigning employees so that the executive team can visually see how large of an impact this has on turnover.
Finally, it’s time to close the presentation with data on what other companies are paying and then provide your solution. This will help the executive team see the importance of having competitive salaries.
In addition to seeing the proof in the data, the executive team will have greater admiration and respect for you because you not only displayed the facts, but also you came up with a solution.
3. Get your executives engaged
A lot of executives assume that employee engagement is all on HR. However, it’s important for executives to understand that employees are looking to them for guidance on how to behave and perform at work. Gone are the days of employees being simply happy with a paycheck. Today, employees desire an open company culture where the company’s leadership is actively involved and know what’s going on. If your executives do not know individual employees or their contributions to the company, they are destroying the company culture.
It’s up to you, as your company’s HR expert, to explain to the executive team the importance of their engagement with the team. Again, data will always grab the attention of executives, so it’s important to do your research.
Take another look at the list of companies that were voted best employers and notice the involvement of the higher-ups at those companies. How does this involvement supplement or better the company culture? Remember that culture and guidance within a company starts from the top down. Companies with excellent cultures will likely have involved executives.
Bring this information to the table when you sit down with the executive team and you will have a better chance at getting them to see the importance of their engagement with employees. Not only will this improve the company culture, but also you will have a much easier time getting them to understand and support your initiatives in the future.
When executives are engaged, they are more likely to see and understand the problems that you bring to them. By sharing your research and data with them for each new plan, executives will easily be able to see how your initiative will help to improve the company culture and bottom line. This means less coaxing is needed from you to get them on your side of the table.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is that executives are most concerned with results and the bottom line.
In order to make good decisions, they expect to see solid data and information showing what the results will be and how it will benefit the business. As long as you are researching, tracking your own data, and getting your company’s leadership engaged in the culture, you should not have a problem getting them to back your well-thought-out and needed HR initiatives.