The Engagement Practitioner as a Change Agent

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We live in a time when maintaining an organization’s reputation and brand is a constant challenge, especially as organizations seek to retain current customers while attracting new ones, all while keeping employees engaged and driving results ­– often transforming engagement practitioners into change agents.

Engagement practitioners tend to be more socially driven rather than financially driven. So, what would drive an engagement practitioner to pursue ROI? This is best answered by considering how and why ROI helps the employee engagement process and, ultimately, the client by showing how the engagement investment yields the desired change.

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Measuring the Success of Employee Engagement

Practitioners often view their role as one that influences an individual, group, or organization to a more desired change. The change agent plays a significant role in leading the change effort or collaborating with the team initiating change. Trying to create a measurement-friendly environment also involves a change agent – someone to lead this effort and manage the change process within an organization. It is important to remember that building a measurement system should be a strategic change. The change agent must set the stage with the “why” behind building a measurement culture, ensure the change effort is in sync with what’s important for the organization, and include action planning and feedback to keep the momentum building. It is also helpful to involve people who are senior in the organization because they have the clout necessary to pave the way for building a measurement system.

Identify a System to Routinely Review Measures

Adopting a systematic way to plan, collect, analyze, and report on programs in the organization, such as the ROI Methodology®, begins the process of communicating and reinforcing what is important to the organization while sending a clear message to key stakeholders as to what needs to change to improve outcomes. This is particularly true when measurement has been planned in advance to collect data points that tell the story in a comprehensive way. The old “if you build it, they will come” mentality can be challenged through a series of filtering questions:

  • Is this initiative aligned with business impact or organization effectiveness outcomes?
  • Is there an assessment of performance that shows a gap in performance?
  • Is the work environment prepared to reinforce the implementation of engagement?
  • Have partnerships been established with key stakeholders to support this initiative?
  • Are there specific, measurable objectives for expected behavior change and business impact?


When employee engagement programs are aligned with results-based initiatives or what’s important to the organization, engagement programs are more likely to be easily measured and supported. The adage rings true in this context: What gets measured gets done.

Sustaining the Use of ROI

 Practitioners may resist the ROI process and it may take evidence of tangible and intangible benefits for change agents to convince them that it is in their best interest to make the engagement program a success. Although most clients want to see the results of the program, they may have concerns about the information they are asked to provide and about whether their personal performance is being judged while the project is undergoing evaluation. Participants may express the same fears. The challenge is to implement the methodology systematically and consistently so that it becomes normal business behavior and part of a routine and standard process built into projects.

While resistance to any new process or change can be expected, it is highly probable when implementing a process as comprehensive as ROI. To implement ROI and sustain it as an important accountability tool, change agents must minimize or remove resistance. Here are four reasons to have a plan:

  • Resistance is always present. Sometimes there are good reasons for resistance, but often it exists for the wrong reasons. It is important to sort out both kinds of resistance and try to dispel the myths. When legitimate barriers are the basis for resistance, the challenge is to minimize or remove them completely.
  • Implementation is key. As with any process, effective implementation is key to its success. This occurs when a new technique, tool, or process is integrated into the routine framework. Without effective implementation, even the best process will fail. A process that is never removed from the shelf will never be understood, supported, or improved. Clear-cut steps must be in place to design a comprehensive implementation process that will overcome resistance.
  • Implementation requires consistency. Consistency is an important consideration as the ROI process is implemented. With consistency comes accuracy and reliability. The only way to make sure consistency is achieved is to follow clearly defined processes and procedures each time the ROI Methodology is used. Proper, effective implementation will ensure that this occurs.
  • Implementation requires efficiency. Cost control and efficiency will be significant considerations in any major undertaking, and the ROI Methodology is no exception. During implementation, tasks must be completed efficiently and effectively. Doing so will help ensure that process costs are kept to a minimum, that time is used economically, and that the process remains affordable.


Even the best model or process will fail if it is not used and sustained properly. If not approached in a systematic, logical, and planned way, the ROI process will not be an integral part of the employee engagement evaluation efforts, and accountability will suffer. If change agents can show executives the return on investing in engagement, it reinforces their commitment to make the process work, and it often improves their relationship with those involved in engagement, as well as their respect for the entire talent management and human resources function.

Headshot of Jack Phillips
Jack J. Phillips, Ph.D.

Jack J. Phillips, Ph.D., chairman, ROI Institute, is a world-renowned accountability, measurement, and evaluation expert. Phillips provides consulting services for Fortune 500 companies and major global organizations. The author or editor of over 100 books, he conducts workshops and presents at conferences worldwide.

Jack has served as training and development manager at two Fortune 500 firms, senior human resource officer at two firms, president of a regional bank, and management professor at a major state university.

This background led Jack to develop the ROI Methodology, a revolutionary process that provides bottom-line figures and accountability for all types of learning, performance improvement, human resource, technology, and public policy programs.

Jack has consulted with various organizations on employee engagement projects, including The Conference Board, and has taught thousands of individuals how to show the value of engagement.

Phillips has received several awards for his books and work. The Society for Human Resource Management presented him with an award for one of his books and honored an ROI study with its highest award for creativity. In November 2019, Jack and his wife, Patti Phillips were named two of the top 50 coaches in the world, by the Thinkers 50 organization. In addition, they were named finalists for the Marshall Goldsmith Distinguished Achievement Award for Coaching.

Connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

Recommended Webinar
Measuring the Success of Employee Engagement

Learn how to define engagement and its importance in the workplace, how to measure employee engagement, and make a plan for your organization.

Measuring the Success of Employee Engagement | HRDQ-U
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