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Posted on 22 March 2018

Six ways to build the business case for engagement

3 minute read

If you’re an HR professional looking to the financial year ahead, there’s a strong chance your thoughts are moving towards your organisation’s engagement strategy. Is it time to make a change or pilot the latest advances in engagement? If so, you’re probably wondering which approach will have the biggest impact and how to secure the budget to deliver it.

On our journey as an employee engagement provider, we’ve seen first-hand how clients have proposed an engagement tool to their board, what’s worked and what’s not. We’ve also partnered with them to secure buy-in and budget to make it a success. Here are a series of recommendations in six key areas that’ll boost your chances of securing a budget and ensure long term investment in an employee engagement strategy.

1. Give evidence

As well as creating a future business case, you’ll need to showcase your previous experience of investing budget wisely. Approach it like an entrepreneur – why should a board invest in you and your business case? Reference past investments and projects that you’ve led and highlight their impact. Organisations don’t simply invest in projects but in the people leading them and their track record.

It’s also a good idea to mention competitors or desirable brands who’ve followed a similar approach and been successful. Any provider worth their salt will be able to give evidence of the wider business impact of engagement beyond logins, participation and engagement scores. The employee engagement champions, Engage For Success have some great evidence to back up the theory of engagement too.

2. Be an activist

We’re passionate about being brave. Challenge the status quo and champion what you know is right, not necessarily what your board thinks you need. In our experience, people are rewarded for leading new initiatives and driving business change. If yours isn’t conducive to that kind of behaviour, look at some trailblazing organisations to see how breaking the mould has worked in their favour.

3. Show the business value

When it comes to linking your proposal to bottom-line value, think beyond engagement scores, staff turnover and retention. Consider showing how it will impact business-wide KPIs, customer satisfaction, sales figures and operational efficiencies. When you can demonstrate the link to these in your chosen engagement tool, all finance conversations will become simpler. HR still tends to get the smallest slice of the ‘budget pie’ but you could argue that it has the single biggest impact on all other areas. You should also factor HR time and administration savings into your case.

4. Demonstrate the cost of doing nothing

KPI trend data predicts trouble as well as success, and when KPIs are trending down, doing nothing is far costlier than investing in a solution to turn things around. If you can demonstrate the financial costs of doing nothing to stop trends, such as falling customer satisfaction scores or increased staff turnover rates, this will provide a strong case for investment in an engagement strategy.

5. Collaborate with stakeholders

Involve key stakeholders across your business when deciding on an approach and assessing suppliers. Encouraging collaboration with your peers removes fear, gets everyone on board and keeps you all moving in the same direction. The same goes for providers too. Treat them like a partner and involve them in your goals and planning. Not only will you get the best out of them but they’ll help shape the direction you take. Consider providers that include risk/reward commercial agreements – that way investment is tied to success through shared goals.

6. Be agile

Asking for investment in a fixed product is far riskier than something that can be reviewed, changed and evolved over time. Work with providers to prioritise your goals against the budget you have and take steps to achieve each one gradually. You’ll find it becomes much easier to secure a budget when you can demonstrate success at incremental stages.

So there it is. Preparing a business case for engagement can seem like a lengthy task; each organisation is unique and there are many different elements to consider. But following these steps will start you off on a journey towards achieving ongoing success, ultimately giving your case the momentum to deliver an engagement strategy that’s truly powerful. That’s where the real value lies.

Looking to take your next steps in building the business case? Download our free template to save time!

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