Generating ROEE – Return on Employee Engagement

Posted: August 13, 2023

The business environment has been anything but stable and predictable for more than 20 years, and it’s unlikely to become that way again. Today, a chain of command often hinders productivity in this environment, and data is flooding us with easy-to-access information. Add extremely low barriers to entry, and we see disruption in markets more frequently than ever before. The business imperative for innovating quickly and bringing it to the market is clear.

The secret? This type of game-changing innovation is increasingly driven by the people who are closest to the organization’s market – their employees, but not just any employees. Employees who drive innovation are those individuals who feel excited about their work, go above and beyond in their roles, and are very productive (in the office or working from home) – in other words they’re fully engaged.

Today’s most successful leaders focus on earning a Return on Employee Engagement.

Traditional and more widely used problem-solving methods are not solving the problem of employee engagement. Let’s consider statistics that have remained consistent over decades: 70% of strategic endeavors meet failure, and a substantial 65% of employees experience disengagement. From the appreciative perspective, it becomes reasonably apparent that 30% of strategy succeeds because it’s facilitated by the 35% of employees who feel engaged. This perspective illuminates the powerful relationship between engagement and success.

Enter Appreciative Inquiry. It’s a proven approach for visionary organizational leaders who are truly committed to engaging individuals essential to their success. By centering on the realm of possibilities, an inquiry has the potential to surface breakthrough ideas that create business value while at the same time providing a team building opportunity rooted in the type of inclusivity and positivity that fosters engagement and the growth of high-performing teams.

Are we saying R.I.P. to ROI?

Of course not! This is a classic example of both/and thinking. ROEE is a qualitative measure of human potential that leads to the quantitative measurements of ROI; namely – lower absenteeism and turnover, increased productivity and revenue, and higher customer satisfaction to name a few.

The investment of inspiring people at all levels of the organization to think strategically, of helping people align their actions with desired outcomes and keep the organization’s high-level, purpose-driven vision in mind is what leads to a Return on Employee Engagement. When an Appreciative Inquiry is designed and facilitated well, it is a worthwhile investment — in knowledge, time, and energy.

Where will you invest an increased level of Employee Engagement?

What’s on your wish list? With empowerment, employees feel more creative; with optimism, they feel more inspired, and this is what we can achieve by appreciatively inquiring into what’s possible. This means opportunities abound to move an organization forward in any number of ways. You might consider:

  • Building a brand that stands out and stands up to scrutiny
  • Responding to disruptive technologies or creating them
  • Meeting new client needs or expectations for success
  • Creating an employee-first culture or hybrid workplace strategy
  • Developing thought leadership that positions your company as a market or industry leader
  • Becoming a more socially-responsible business
  • Something else on your wish list?

Wherever your Appreciative Inquiry might take you and your team, it is likely to produce positive change in your organization’s culture and work environment, and that might be the greatest business imperative of all.


Kelly Stewart is a certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator and Conversations Worth Having Trainer. In addition to her work with both organizations, she is founder of The Positive Business, facilitating strategic conversations rooted in Appreciative Inquiry, believing deeply that better results begin with better conversations.

Generating ROEE – Return on Employee Engagement

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