CFOs weigh in on engaging employees – what can you learn?

At The Wall Street Journal’s most recent annual CFO Network conference, chief financial officers (CFOs) from leading global companies including PepsiCo, Ford Motor, Siemens and Estee Lauder put their heads together to come up with a list of priorities across five key areas, including talent development.

Employee engagement critical to cultivating talent

Employee engagement was identified as a key part of talent development, which is unsurprising considering the focus placed upon it by many organizations of late. Although it’s evidently on many executives’ radars, engagement is still a sticking point for many workers, judging by the results of this year’s State of the American Workplace report from Gallup. Among the nearly 150,000 employees surveyed across a range of industries, 52 percent said they were “not engaged” in the workplace – and, even more dismally, almost two in 10 (18 percent) described themselves as being “actively disengaged.”

As the Journal reported, the task force assigned to discuss talent development at the conference came up with a three-pronged approach for bolstering employee engagement: “Appeal to employees’ heads, hearts and hands through community/global involvement/affinity groups. Create long-term development plans for top talent. Align finance objectives with business goals.”

Moreover, CFOs also determined that augmenting corporate-finance employees’ communication skills, combating siloism with cross-functional assignment and establishing a climate of continuous and ongoing learning were key for making talent development strategies more robust.

When building strategies, be realistic

That said, executives eager to launch continuous learning initiatives should make sure their expectations of employees are realistic in order to maximize the effectiveness of such efforts. For instance, remember that all workers – engaged or otherwise – have attention span limitations that will eventually kick in regardless of how interesting they find a training topic.

“Supplying too much information at once will only lead to it being mixed and ultimately forgotten,” warned a recent Business 2 Community article.

Similarly, it’s important to make the training as relevant to employees’ everyday jobs as possible in order to maximize comprehension and retention, the source noted.

What does this mean for management recruiters?

Firms on the hunt for new leadership are likely already prioritizing the cultivation of employee engagement – and if they’re not, they probably should be. When gauging potential candidates’ suitability for a particular position, executive recruiting firms should pay special attention to previous experience engendering employee engagement or bolstering corporate culture as a whole.

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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