Improving Engagement: F500 Industrial Manufacturer

Increasing Employee Engagement 19% at a Fortune 500 Industrial Manufacturer

Situation

This $12 billion Fortune 500 industrial manufacturing leader with offices in over 60 countries started a broad initiative to grow revenue, create operational excellence and build a winning culture.  One of their key success metrics identified for the initiative was increased employee engagement.  As part of the strategic, they ran an employee engagement survey and implemented broad actions across the company based upon the results.

Complications

  • Many Actions but Little Improvement: Despite some sweeping actions over a four year period based upon the employee engagement survey feedback and some tangible improvement in discreet engagement categories, overall engagement scores remained flat.
  • Global Company with Diversified Needs: With over 40,000 employees in 600 locations any solution must be able to scale operationally and culturally while making sense for all 11 strategic business units.

Objective

Raise overall employee engagement scores by at least 2 points.

Approach

After four years of little progress, the senior leadership team decided to hold managers accountable for demonstrating authentic leadership and driving engagement locally.  This new approach included making sure that leaders at all levels are accountable for doing the right things to manage performance, communicate important messages, and to develop and reward their people, being role models for the values of the organization and for their teams and hitting specific metrics against business outcomes and key behaviors / leadership competencies throughout the performance management and leadership review cycles.

Additionally, the company created seven overarching engagement guiding principles to consistently drive the initiative forward across the globe:

  1. The person with the greatest impact on an individual’s engagement is that person’s immediate manager. This is where the real employee engagement happens – not at the enterprise, business unit, region or function.
  2. Employee engagement must be integrated into the company’s key strategic priorities; it is not a standalone initiative.
  3. Managers must continually identify engagement gaps and define solutions with their teams. This will, in turn, build trust and increase discretionary effort among employees.
  4. Employee engagement is a key enabler to the business strategy. Data will give insights on our organizational and cultural health enabling the business to diagnose where it can be more effective.
  5. In order to significantly improve engagement, it is imperative that there are clear priorities, a laser like focus and strong leadership.
  6. Leaders must coach each other through support, helping them understand their data, and by keeping a very strong focus on what’s within their control to make better.
  7. There is a lot that is going well with engagement—continue to build on those strengths.

Solution

In support of the seven guiding engagement principles, the company developed a comprehensive Employee Engagement strategy focused on enterprise and business-led activities with a constant emphasis on two-way communication and continuous improvement.

  • Initial Leadership Workshops: Kicking off its global, enterprise-­led effort, the company rapidly developed and deployed a leadership and engagement workshop to its global audience. The one­-day classroom workshop was designed to equip managers with practical strategies they can use to retain, engage, and encourage the talents of their people.  It also addressed leader/manager behaviors such as coaching and communication that are critical drivers of engagement at the company.
  • Reinforcement: As part of its overall strategy post­ workshop actions were identified to maintain momentum, further learning and drive sustainable change including (1) an Online Employee Engagement Manager Toolkit with a Talent Risk Assessment, a template to a Stay Interview conversation plan, a one ­page What Matters Most survey, and links to best practice tools and articles.  (2)  Executive Overviews detailing the critical business case for engagement across the organization and setting the expectation to model engagement and retention behaviors.  (3)  Human Resource Coaching and Training designed specifically for Human Resources personnel to coach on engagement and promote use of Manager Toolkit resources.  (4) A series of targeted career development workshops for employees and managers.  (5) Best Practice Sharing of top ­quartile engagement managers as lessons learned across the organization.

Results

  • 19% increase in overall employee engagement in two years – (from 63% to 75%)
  • 2.2-to-1 difference between managers who completed the course (11% engagement improvement average) compared to those who did not complete the entire program (5%  engagement improvement average)
  • Recognized as one of the top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces
  • Named one of FORTUNE Magazines’ World’s Most Admired Companies
  • Listed as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens

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