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Bite-Size Insights: How can leaders make a business case for employee engagement?

Dec 01, 2020 | 00:00

00:00 00:00

Episode Description

On this Bite-Size, we’re digging into the ways HR leaders can make a business case for employee engagement and other people initiatives. Getting the resources you need can be a challenge, especially when businesses are trying to cut as much expense as possible. Helping us break it down is Bonnie Curtis, formerly of Procter & Gamble and currently Chief Human Resources Officer at Castellini Group.

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Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] okay. Insights, listeners, Nicole here. And thanks so much for joining me for this week's bite-size insights, empowering people, leaders with best in class information in 10 minutes or less. Now amplify recently launched a new webinar series where each week we're talking with experts on topics like fostering remote cultures, how to develop your talent and creating practices of gratitude.

To register simply go to That's E M P L I F E B I N a R S. All right. So on this episode, we are digging into the ways that HR leaders can make a business case for employee engagement and other people initiatives getting the resources you need can be a challenge, especially when businesses are trying to cut as much expense as possible right now. So helping us break it down is Bonnie Curtis, formerly of Proctor and gamble, and currently the chief human resources officer at [00:01:00] So. I want to start with strategy by saying that everybody has a strategy, whether we articulate it or not. If you work for a company with a very clear strategy, that's on the wall and well-communicated good for you. If you work for a company where no strategy has ever been articulated and you're in a position to help business leadership create even a small strategy that everybody can rally around.

You probably need to do that. If you're in a position where you can't do that, you kind of have to figure out what is the owner or the president or whoever you're reporting to. What do they think their strategy is by asking questions and trying to figure it out. Because if you don't understand that it's going to be impossible to go get money.

But the thing about strategy is you have to say, what are we not going to do? There has to be a viable alternative. Great strategy is Southwest airline. And I had the opportunity to hear their CEO [00:02:00] talk in 2008. And he explained that this is what they're about. Become the world's most loved, most flown and most profitable airline.

And he was very clear. We are after the leisure traveler, that's who we're after people who would have driven or not gone if they couldn't fly South. And he said at that time we will never charge for baggage. That was right when everybody else was starting to charge for baggage. So here we are, 12 years later in Southwest is not charging for baggage and they are the only ones left, not charging for baggage.

So they really struck to their principles. So if you think about Southwest, a viable alternative could have been first-class business-class passengers and let's cater to them. That's where the money is. And that's what all their competition is doing. They don't even have a first class section. So they're clearly not doing that.

They could have said, let's go to Asia. That's a very lucrative market. They didn't do that. They stayed here. So they were very clear. We're giving up things in order to stay true to our [00:03:00] strategy. And that's part of it when we were doing some strategy work for cast led. I recommended to the owner that maybe we want to buy an organic field so we could grow organics. And he looked at me and said, bunny, I will never buy an organic field. And I'm like, okay, got it. He made a choice of what he was not going to do. And we have to be willing to do that in order to have a good strategy. So there's different processes to creating a strategy. This is one I like that I've used at Proctor.

I've also used it at cast Delaney. You can look it up on Google. It's called the monitor process. Basically it starts with what's our vision. And then where are we going to play? And then how are you going to win? Once you've got a strategy for the company, then what I've done is create a functional journey map.

Basically, it's a five-year plan that talks about what am I going to deliver? What are these metrics in green that I I'm going to give the company over the next five years, this is kind of scary and takes a bit of courage [00:04:00] because you have to commit to things. You don't know how you're going to do them yet, but the company clearly needs them to deliver their strategy. So you sign up to do them. Processes and systems are the asks. In order for me to deliver these metrics, I need these processes and systems. And then behavioral shifts are what has to be true for safety, personal safety. If you have a bunch of managers that believe accidents happen, and there's nothing you can do about it, you're never going to hit your goals on safety.

So you need to think about that too. What is cool about this is then I can explain to people what I'm working on, whether they're the new hire or the new business partner, I'm a vendor I'm trying to hire to do stumping. Like this is what I'm doing. I work with my leadership team to create this. I send the draft form out to all my business partners so they can do input.

And then I can use this every year when I'm looking for budge funny, or when we're doing annual reviews. So you have a corporate strategy, you kind of know where you're going within your function. Then I think you have the right to go out and [00:05:00] ask for resources and money, all of the soft, Hey, this is the right thing to do.

And don't, we all feel bad kinds of things in business. Generally don't work. We have to find a way to translate that into hard numbers. We had done some in-house surveys and really not done much with them before people didn't trust them because they knew we were looking at the data. And I came in and said, you know, we need to figure out what we can do to drive engagement here. This is a pretty low wage industry with high turnover. What if we could get great engagement and get our people to stay and get promoted and drive this thing to a place that the produce industry has never seen. Again, I needed money. So I, I went and looked at five survey companies cause I kinda knew what I wanted because P and G had stuff that I thought was really good that I thought we could improve on.

And I picked one that I wanted and I went to my boss and asked for it, conceptually. Totally. He was okay with it. Didn't really want to spend the [00:06:00] money. So then I went to the operations later, instead of I could drive productivity with engagement because by then I'd done enough research. To know that it's not happiness.

It's not satisfaction. It's engagement. That's what drives productivity. What could we do with that productivity? So he and I worked on that together. Went back to my boss, brought the CEO of the company in to meet with my boss and explained their algorithms and all that stuff. And that was enough to push him over the edge, the money we were going to generate through productivity. Plus. This idea that we could be like the rock and produce company in the United States. So we did that two years ago. Thank goodness we did because when COVID hit, I really wanted to understand where our workforce is and we've been able to keep it up because the survey happens every three months. Final thoughts on that.

First of all, make sure your company has a strategy. And if it doesn't try to figure out what it is, because if you can't tie what you need to that strategy, you're never going to get your money, use resources. When you're sitting at the table, trying to figure out who's going to [00:07:00] help you. Finance is always needs to be there.

So we bought lots of lunches from my finance friends, trying to figure out how to get them on my side and helped me calculate some of these things. Sometimes your friend is QA sometimes it's it. Sometimes it's operations. Figure out who your friends are going to be at the table and engage them early.

Have resilience. You heard me say, I went back, I went back. I went back. Literature says it takes seven times to convince people to do something different than they want to do. And I have found that to be absolutely true. And then the last thing is go after it with passion. If you are not passionate about what you're asking for, you're not going to get it and a little bit of business savvy.

And if you don't have the business savvy again, take your finance buddy out to lunch.

Thank you for joining this week's bite-size insights. I hope that you learned something new and if you're looking for more in-depth content, be sure to register for 23 minute webinars series at