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If we’ve learned anything in the last few years about the future of work, it’s that companies must be agile. With digitalization, globalization, and new generations entering the workforce, the faster a company can evolve alongside shifting consumer and employee engagement trends, the better equipped they are to survive in the long run.
At the 2019 Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference for HR innovators, people leaders at Air Canada, Samsung Electronics America, Medxcel, and Quest Diagnostics shared their best practices for engaging their people in 2020. Some key questions were:
- What engagement tools should companies adopt to keep up with an evolving workforce?
- How should companies leverage data to build positive culture to retain and recruit talent?
- How can companies promote interconnectivity among a dispersed and diverse employee base?
Our latest white paper, The Future of Employee Engagement: Informal Chats with Today’s Leading CHROs and Executive HR Leaders, reveals the answers to these questions. Below are some highlights.
How do you drive genuine employee engagement?
Vanessa Thurston, Interim Vice President & Head of Talent Management at Samsung Electronics America says: Treat your employees as customers.
How do you treat employees as customers? Thurston suggests that most companies already have a blueprint they can follow. For years, companies have studied their customers to answer questions like:
- What are the steps in the customer journey?
- How can organizations reduce friction in each of those steps to compel a customer to stay?
- What does the customer think and feel about a product?
- How can the company change an unfavorable perception or improve a negative experience?
Businesses should take the same customer experience approach when considering the employee experience, says Thurston. Looking at the employee journey, organizations should ask: What solutions are we providing to individuals, not only for the work that they’re doing at the company today, but that will help them become more marketable throughout their careers? Career development isn’t a one-way street, however. Getting employee feedback and listening to the kind of growth and support each employee needs is essential to their development.
This is less an employee engagement trend and more a continuous commitment on behalf of the company. “You have to check in very regularly, understand what are the challenges, what are the opportunities, and maintain that dialogue, but also ensure that your solutions are hitting the mark,” Thurston says.
What are employee engagement trends around boosting interconnectedness?
Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Senior Vice President, People, Culture and Communications at Air Canada, says: Connect employees through recognition.
Many Air Canada employees have non-traditional jobs, explains Meloul-Wechsler. “They wake up in the morning, they put on their uniform, they show up at an airport, sometimes a different airport from their home and they get on an aircraft,” she said. They may be working with a colleague or crew they’ve never met before, so Air Canada has to work very hard to help employees feel connected to the company. “Because if they don’t, then they really will not deliver what we want them to deliver, which is our award-winning customer service,” she says.
For years, employee retention has been a top challenge for organizations, and studies show that recognition increases retention. To address this challenge Air Canada finds other nimble ways to interact with staff. That includes managers having a quick huddle at the aircraft before the crew boards or managers flying with the crew to spend time with them during layovers, Meloul-Wechsler says. Taking a flight to spend time with a team member may sound like a lot, but the payoff is worth it.
So what’s an employee engagement trend Air Canada lives by? Rewarding employee publicly and regularly. Even when managers fly with the crew and recognize their accomplishments, public kudos can still be more rewarding than just private ones. “It means a lot to our flight crews to know, to see on the [Achievers] feed that not only were they recognized but [that] their colleagues and peers see it as well,” says Meloul-Wechsler. “Because, again, they’re not checking into an office, they’re not seeing their colleagues. You can’t just do a ‘Well done’ in the hallway or at a meeting that the rest of the team might hear.”
How do you leverage data to drive cultural change?
Michael Argir, Chief Executive Officer & President of Medxcel, says: Employ data to enrich business metrics.
Medxcel uses employee satisfaction data effectively to track engagement alongside core business metrics. “We use our model community index to really understand the engagement of our teams,” Argir explains. His team also uses a CARE tool, which measures customer interaction at the end-user level within the hospital. The CARE tool provides daily surveys and samplings of work orders provide information about the courtesy of the staff, their professionalism, and the speed of completing tasks. Medxcel does a deep dive into customer satisfaction with a voice of customer survey annually.
Measuring these various areas has helped Medxcel focus on areas needing improvement, and that effort has been beneficial. Taking current and historical data and aligning it with data from the Achievers’ recognition platform, Medxcel created a clear picture of where employee and customer engagement thrives and where it needs improvement.
Medxcel also developed a national portfolio showing which sites had the highest employee engagement and directly correlated that information with net promoter score and customer satisfaction. This year, we were able to exceed every single category of our guidelines,” Argir said. “Our net promoter score leaped from a 36, which is good in our industry, to a best-in-class score of 46, with loyalty exceeding 80%.”
With such numbers, this employee engagement trend is likely to remain a mainstay strategy for Argir’s team. “That was a huge success for us this year,” Argir said. “In the fiscal year 2020, we’re taking that one step further to say, ‘How do we now win the hearts and the minds [of employees] through communication and engagement?’”
For full coverage of the ACE CHRO panel and more insights on employee engagement trends, download our free white paper.