How the CEO can win the hearts and minds of employees

CEOs must own these seven steps to ensure employee engagement to increase productivity and create a culture for the best business results.

how the ceo can win the hearts and minds of employees

What’s the real job of a CEO?

Unless you’re actually a CEO, you might not think much about what the person in this position is responsible for. Obviously, the chief executive officer (CEO) has a very challenging job. This is the organization’s leader, and this person is primarily responsible for motivating employees and driving visionary change at a strategic level. This is the person who makes all key strategic decisions and ultimately must deliver business results and the organization’s mission. Moreover, the key to a CEO’s success is creating the best environment and culture for employees to do their best.

Why are employees the heart of an organization?

Your workers are your company’s (and CEO’s) biggest assets. They are the ones building, selling, inventing, delivering, and supporting your products and services. They are the frontline to your customers, who in turn help generate revenue for your company and shareholders. Every moment a CEO helps increase employee engagement is an investment in the productivity of an entire workforce.

So, how does the CEO and leadership team win the hearts and minds of employees? CEOs must own these seven steps to ensure employee engagement to increase productivity and create a culture that will yield the best business results.

7 steps for CEOs who want to build employee engagement

Step #1: Build trust.

One of the most powerful ways for CEOs to lead is by setting a good example for your workforce. By walking the talk, you earn the trust and respect needed to inspire others. 

And trust is a critical component of success in today’s corporate world. One way to cultivate trust is to communicate with transparency and authenticity. A recent Firstup study found that stopping “fake news” is a top priority for the C-suite; 51% of respondents said prevention of misinformation and rumors is leadership’s top concern in communicating with employees. 

Why would this be the case? Because trust is an integral element of employee engagement. According to Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer, people globally trust their employers over any other societal institution. But confidence in CEOs is down. In the study, the credibility of CEOs is at all-time lows in several countries.

Step #2: Establish and communicate a strategic vision.

One of the greatest gifts a CEO can offer is a clear statement of organizational direction. People want to contribute to achieving great things. They also want their work to have larger meaning. Leaders should be able to articulate their mission and ambitious goals. 

It’s worth remembering that many workers today are digital natives. They take technology and personalized communications in their personal lives for granted, and CEOs must adapt. Cascade communications, mass emails, and one-size-fits-all messaging no longer work as effectively in the current landscape.

Step #3: Cut through the noise.

Workers today are overloaded with information. Leaders need the right technology tools to break through the noise. 

When communicating with employees, CEOs are competing with the noise of social media and always-on collaboration tools. To prevent tech overload, the C-suite needs to invest in workforce communications or digital workplace platforms that become a system of record for communications and helps them personalize and automate their communications. By providing relevant messages at the right time and place, they will reach their employees, especially the hyperconnected and frontline staff who don’t necessarily have company emails or laptops. 

This trend is closely connected to the digital workplace, where companies are improving the employee experience with new technology and integrated systems that streamline workflows and reduce inefficiencies. 

Step #4: Be authentic. 

Today, CEOs can’t just blast out emails that were written by the corporate comms office. Employees want transparency and authenticity. And one of the best ways is through short videos, that can be easily created using smartphones. 

Marc Bitzer, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Whirlpool Corporation, is a great example of a leader who reaches, informs, and aligns employees through iPhone videos. Using the company’s workforce communications platform, he has is own CEO channel as his primary way to communicate with workers. He fields weekly questions from employees via unedited and unscripted live-streamed videos, and he keeps everyone up-to-date with company news via video, too. 

By using these tools to reach employees, Bitzer has created a culture of transparency and openness. He’s led by example and Whirlpool Corporation has improved its employee experience and internal reputation score. 

Extreme Networks is another company where leaders have embraced simple, “selfie” videos to reach its employee audiences. They took executive communications to the next level with specific channels for the CEO and other leaders. The CEO recorded videos in executive conferences and board meetings,  places employees normally wouldn’t go; and workers got a real peek into his daily life and personality. Women leaders helped promote other women in the organization, and they developed a culture of diversity and authenticity by using real-time videos.  

Step #5: Invest in internal communications.

The best CEOs understand that the key to successful business initiatives is communication. They know that it is the catalyst for any change management and positive business outcomes. And with a younger, digitally native workforce that actively uses all forms of contemporary technology, organizations need to invest in developing and enhancing their digital workplaces. 

At the center of the digital workplace is workforce communications platforms. CEOs can use such platforms to create and deliver their company’s strategic mission, build trust, and meet employees where they are with a personalized and omni-channel communications approach. 

Step #6: Measure the impact of your communications. 

A CEOs approach to internal communications has a major impact on revenue generation and profitability. Leaders need to measure the impact of their work to prove the return on investment (ROI) in communications initiatives and strategies. By identifying KPIs and tracking communications metrics, executives can understand all aspects of employee engagement, including productivity. This will help CEOs decide when and how to increase or modify investments in communications tools. 

Conclusion: CEOs Need Strategic Communications Goals 

CEOs must use the best communications technology tools to bring them closer to their employees and provide them the best employee experience. This type of leadership will build trust and help companies adapt quickly to meet strategic communications goals. 

Related resources

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Firstup is the world’s first intelligent communication platform. More than 40 percent of Fortune 100 companies use our platform to connect with their people, design and deliver personalised communications, and gain engagement insights throughout the employee journey. With Firstup, employers can view engagement data in real time, by organisation, department, or employee. That helps leaders better understand their workforce, make informed decisions, and provide better experiences from hire to retire. Companies like Amazon, Tesco, Ford, and Hilton use Firstup every day to improve outcomes for their employees.

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