We may be in one of the worst recessions in recent decades, yet this isn’t a justification for businesses to demand more work, for less pay. Companies should be seriously concerned that a disengaged employee now, may well walk the moment the job market in their sector starts to recover. The government has recognised the impact employee engagement has on the bottom line by setting up an Employee Engagement Task Force (EETF) to boost prosperity by offering businesses practical ways of motivating staff. HR professionals should be asking what this means for them and what the tangible business benefits are that they can ‘sell’ to stakeholders within their organisation to encourage take-up.

What’s certain is that to attract, retain and motivate employees it is vital that organisations look for more inventive ways of engagement than just offering them job titles and pay grades. In a survey we carried out in April this year of 1,000 UK employees, 63 per cent said that they would feel significantly more ‘engaged’ with their employer if it was allowed to engage in community and environmental initiatives. For the employer, the benefits of this improved engagement include increased productivity, less staff turnover, fewer sick days and a generally happier workplace. This trend was even more marked among the 20-30 year bracket, the so-called ‘Generation Y’. Nearly 70 per cent of this group said that they would feel more engaged by taking part in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and bemoaned senior management, with over half saying it was ‘out of touch’ with the wants and values of its generation.

The challenge for the majority HR professionals is that C-level executives often look at HR in terms of a silo; the issue of brand reputation is a major concern for CEOs yet they do not link achieving corporate integrity with employee engagement. A compelling, pithy case is needed to put employee engagement on their radar.

Here are four ‘elements’ that will pique the interest of the board:

-HR – the employee engagement element: engaged employees are more likely to perform better, take 3.5 fewer sick days and stay in their company longer than their disengaged colleagues. For the board, addressing employee engagement is a clear step their company can take to improve productivity and reduce staff churn.

-Investor Relations – the share price element: positively impact on investor perception and share price. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that a reduction from 10% to 9% in employee turnover can reduce turnover costs by £500,000 per annum.

-Public Relations – the brand perception element: promoting your employees’ engagement with local charities helps to strengthen the brand reputation amongst potential customers, investors and employees.

-Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – the sustainability element: A recent joint report from the UN and Accenture of CEOs from 750 of the world’s largest companies revealed that the majority of CEOs see employee engagement and business sustainability as a top driver for customer and employee loyalty. Indeed, 81 per cent stated that CSR issues are now fully embedded into the strategy and operations of their company. The business requirement for CSR is strong, particularly if your company is dealing with the public sector, as the way a company discharges its social and environmental responsibilities in the local community can impact its ‘licence to operate’ with local and central government organisations.

Tick off these four business concerns for the CEO and you’ll have their attention guaranteed.

Now you’ll be facing the next question – how to engage employees? This is that elusive fifth element! Offer staff the chance to skill-up whilst having fun and doing good on work time, and HR professionals have the opportunity to be responsible for effecting real change in their workplace and impacting the bottom line.