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Employee Advocacy

CEO Sabotage: How a Disengaged CEO Impacts Employee Engagement

By Emily Neal15/03/2023October 17th, 2023No Comments
How a Disengaged CEO Impacts Employee Engagement

Today we’re covering everything you need to know about the relationship between CEOs and employee engagement.

Spoiler alert: your company’s CEO may have a bigger role to play in overall employee engagement levels than you thought!

A disengaged CEO not only sets a bad example for the rest of your team, but the data overwhelmingly shows that they have a huge impact on employee engagement.

Put simply, if your CEO is not engaged, it’ll lead to a lack of enthusiasm and motivation among employees.

This in turn causes lower productivity, higher staff turnover rates, and decreased morale. 😫

Before you panic…

Here’s how to figure out if your CEO is disengaged, why employee engagement is something every CEO should care about, and how to fix it!

Let’s go πŸ‘‡

make your team a priority

Why Employee Engagement Matters

Employee engagement is absolutely essential for any business to succeed.

Think about it…

If your employees are disengaged, they’ll not only have lower productivity levels, but they’ll also be much more likely to leave the company.

Less engaged employees cost your company real money, and so does recruiting their replacements.

Besides, who wants an unmotivated team with low morale and a poor employee experience?

No good manager, that’s for sure.

Employee engagement is all about having satisfaction with your job, and feeling a sense of belonging in your company.

Plus, engaged employees are much more likely to be productive, innovative and creative! πŸ™Œ

An engaged team has a huge impact in moving the needle forward for your company. Engaged employees enable you to reach goals, grow the business, and achieve higher customer satisfaction levels.

Besides, research by Quantum Workplace revealed that engaged employees have better health, happiness, lower absenteeism, have higher sales figures, and provide many more business benefits.

what's the problem?

The Employee Engagement Problem

In recent years, employee engagement has been a real concern for HR departments, leadership teams, and employer branding folks.

With the ‘Quiet Quitting‘ trend all over the news, and low employee retention rates, it’s no wonder businesses are looking for ways to improve their employee experience and reduce turnover.

Gallup reported in 2021 that 80% of American workers are “not fully engaged or actively disengaged at work.”

80%! 🀯

So what makes employees become disengaged?

When they aren’t valued, listened to, or appreciated, and don’t feel like they’re making a difference.


Disengaged CEO = Disengaged Employees

The relationship between a CEO and their employees is crucial for the success of an organization.

When a CEO is not engaged in the daily operations of the company, the result is that employees feel undervalued and disconnected from the company. After all, if senior leadership don’t seem to care about the workforce and their efforts are going unnoticed, why would employees care about the organization?

This leads to decreased motivation and commitment to the company’s goals and objectives.

A disengaged workforce leads to low morale, declining productivity, and ultimately, poor performance.

A CEO who is passionate about their company and its mission will inspire their employees to be the same!

At the end of the day, the CEO is the face of the company. A key part of their role involves inspiring and motivating employees, so it’s essential for them to stay engaged and passionate about the business.

I'm disengaging.

3 Signs Your CEO Is Disengaged

So, how can I tell if my CEO is disengaged? πŸ€”

Here are some key indicators that show that your CEO may not be as involved as they should be:

1. The CEO is Invisible To Most Employees

Great leaders aren’t invisible, mythical creatures that avoid interacting with employees!

CEOs should make time for connecting with employees at all levels. At the very least, they should introduce themselves, and occasionally catch up with each team. Being visible makes a huge difference!

2. The "Us VS Them" Divide

There’s an “us vs them” vibe between senior management and employees. So many companies suffer from this feeling of division, and it’s particularly influenced by C-suite leaders.

The last thing you want in a workplace culture is a sense of exclusion and disconnection.

3. They Don't Listen To Feedback

The CEO doesn’t ask for or listen to feedback, and fails to implement appropriate changes. Nothing will destroy employee engagement more than stifling the voices of your colleagues!

Sometimes this behavior comes from a declining interest in the company, a demanding workload, or personal situations. If the issue is personal, a disengaged CEO won’t remain disengaged. Remember that they’re a person too, and they might need some support.

In other cases, your disengaged CEO is just not interested in building trust and engaging with their colleagues.

They may be unwilling to accept viewpoints that contrast with their own opinions, and don’t encourage individuality from employees. This is terrible for employee satisfaction. There’s nothing worse than being treated like a robot at work!

Keep in mind that if you’re looking to improve employee engagement, change starts from the top.

level up gif

How To Improve CEO Engagement

OK, so now you know how to spot the signs of a disengaged CEO, and how this impacts employee experience and engagement.

But how can it be fixed? πŸ€”

The key point is that in order to improve CEO engagement, companies need to focus on how the CEO can build relationships with their employees.

4 Steps The Leadership Team and HR Can Take To Address a Disengaged CEO:

1. Explain that you need to work on improving your company culture and employee engagement as a whole, and how important their role is for championing that.

2. Give your CEO the stats. Oftentimes, senior leadership will respond better to the data. Show them how employee engagement impacts talent retention, employee advocacy, and even customer loyalty.

Key statistics to share:

  • Research from Kincentric across hundreds of businesses showed that disengaged leaders have, on average, close to double the number of disengaged employees.
  • TheΒ 2022 Global Culture Report by O.C. Tanner revealed that employees who develop strong connections with their managers are 11x more likely to stay in the company for at least another year, and 3x more likely to stay for more than 3 years.
  • In 2021, BusinessSolver unveiled a report on the State of Workplace Empathy. They stated that “68% of CEO’s fear that they’ll be respected less if they show empathy at work”.

Explain to your CEO that empathy really is important in their role, and that they won’t be respected less by your team. All employees need their wellbeing taken into consideration! CEOs shouldn’t be emotionally disengaging while at work: it’ll inhibit relationships with colleagues, and can lead to destructive and problematic decision-making.

3. Encourage your CEO to be active on social media, especially LinkedIn! πŸ’¬

How does this help with employee engagement?

Having your CEO as a connection on LinkedIn, and actively engaging with your posts really does make a difference. Getting noticed by senior leadership is super encouraging, boosts morale, and makes you feel like your efforts were worth it! πŸ’ͺ

Another huge benefit of getting your CEO on LinkedIn is providing a platform for them to network with other CEOs. Being a CEO can be an isolating experience, and connecting with other CEOs helps! Plus they’ll be able to gain insights into how other companies are run.

4. Is the CEO too overwhelmed with stress to even consider spending time engaging with employees?

In that case, perhaps it’s time to invest in building up your leadership team to support the CEO.

By taking these steps, your company will be well on the way to improving engagement levels, bridging the gap between the C-suite and employees.


How Employee Advocacy Connects CEOs with Employees

Don’t forget about internal communications! πŸ’¬

Companies often spend vast amounts of money advertising to prospective clients and customers, and forget that they need internal marketing too.

And not just a sporadic email from the marketing department πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

… or a broken internal comms platform with outdated technology, which your shop floor / front-of-house staff can’t even access.

That’s where an employee advocacy program comes in.

DSMN8’s employee advocacy platform is a powerful tool that connects your team in a meaningful way. 🀝

It hits two birds with one stone:

1. You’ll save costs on social media advertising by having employees act as brand ambassadors, with organic content to boost your social presence and reach the right people. Want to know how much money your marketing department could save? Try our free ROI calculator!

2. Level up internal comms with a dedicated company platform, including a mobile app, enabling employees to stay up-to-date with all the latest company and industry news wherever they are, as well as connect with their colleagues on social media.

Bridge the gap between the CEO and your remote employees with internal video announcements and gain feedback with polls. There’s no easier way for a CEO to build relationships with and understand the needs of their employees!

DSMN8 makes it easy for leadership to recognize the effort put in by employees with our leaderboard feature. Think about how motivating it would be to receive a personal thank-you from your CEO! πŸ†

The platform includes gamification functions to encourage employee participation by making it fun and rewarding. You can choose your own rewards, for example charity donations or giftcards. 🎁

By leveraging employee advocacy, CEOs can understand the challenges faced by their employees, recognize their achievements, and create an environment where everyone feels valued.

This builds trust between the CEO and the team, leading to improved morale and higher productivity.

Employee advocacy also helps strengthen company culture by increasing transparency and collaboration among teams.

Everyone receives the latest company news, and helps support departments like marketing, sales, employer branding, and HR, by sharing authentic content on social media.

In return, employees are rewarded, their efforts are acknowledged by leadership, and they become more closely aligned with company goals.

Key Takeaways

  • CEO engagement has a huge impact on employee engagement.
  • A CEO should inspire employees, and spend time building relationships with them.
  • When employees feel positively about their leadership team, they’re more likely to advocate for the company, continue working there, and become more productive.
  • An employee advocacy platform helps bridge the gap between your CEO and employees, by improving connectivity and internal communications.

Change starts at the top! πŸ”

Finally, here’s a podcast episode from our very own CEO, all about how to turn your CEO into a social media superstar. πŸ‘‡

Want to learn more about Employee Advocacy?

We can help with that! πŸ‘‹

Book a demo of the all-in-one Employee Influencer platform.


Emily Neal

SEO and Content Specialist at DSMN8. Emily has 10 years experience blogging, and is a pro at Pinterest Marketing, reaching 1 million monthly views. She’s all about empowering employees to grow their personal brands and become influencers.