Guest post by Elizabeth Mayes:
By now, almost everyone in business has heard the statistics on how important employee engagement is to a company’s success. One gold standard report published in 2013 by the Harvard Business School indicated that high employee engagement was among the top three indicators of success—more important than traditional favorites like ‘strong sales and marketing’ or even ‘the ability to innovate.’ The study found that companies with high levels off employee engagement grew profits as much as 3X faster than other companies, and were far less likely to lose valuable employees.
A Disengaged Workforce
But there is a big gap today. In spite of its importance, just 24% of respondents in their survey indicated that their employees were highly engaged. That means that 3 out of every 4 employees are less than engaged. That is a staggering indictment of how we are doing business today.
It seems like an insurmountable challenge. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Yes, it takes thoughtful work and investment. It takes listening and creating key programs that work for your employees. But a foundation for it all to work effectively is how you communicate about it. And THAT is surprisingly easy, given the advances in recent technology.
Here at Four Winds, we suffered from what many companies are struggling with…a higher turnover than we wanted. When I joined the company in 2014, we were losing almost 1 in every 4 employees. It wasn’t too far off the average in our high-tech industry, but to us, it was alarmingly high. And it was expensive. By conservative estimates, it was costing us well over $4M a year in employee productivity losses and recruitment costs.
It Starts with a Change
Senior management wanted to make a change. We invested in peer recognition programs, community engagement opportunities, wellness programs, and we looked at employee benefits. We created committees for employees to get involved in shaping those programs. And then we invested in our own purpose-built digital signage network for employee engagement. We had signs above every possible pod of desks and in every major conference room and confluence area. Our teams rotated content on those signs throughout the day—content that was fed directly from our various internal systems like Salesforce.com, our employee roster and our events calendar.
Simply by looking up, employees could quickly see a co-worker that was being called out for a job well-done by a colleague. Or learn about an upcoming give-back program. Or see a call to join the yoga or cross-fit class sponsored by the company. Or see a reminder about a sign-up deadline. Or see pictures from the last company event, or employee FitBit rankings.
The CEO referenced them in every company Town Hall meeting and in his blog. Senior leadership used them to reinforce their department metrics. And then we watched as our employee turnover numbers began to drop. Precipitously.
Turnover Rate Dropped…
In just one year, we halved our turnover rate—in spite of a hot Denver economy and lots of ‘cool’ start-up companies in our midst. That drop saved us more than $2M a year.
And what did it cost us? We used about 50 signs throughout our HQ building—about 1 sign for every 8 employees on average. Using costs that a typical Four Winds customer would pay, it averaged about $9,200 a month for those signs, including hardware, software and services to set them up and create content for them. But HR only used those signs about 40% of the time. The other time rotated content used by other departments. So, our share of the costs was about $3,700 a month.
Now let’s be conservative, and say that just 10% of the drop in turnover was because of our Visual Communications network. The rest was driven from the investment in the various programs we sponsored. Even with that conservative calculation, our ROI on the signs in one year was a whopping 500%.
What I’ve learned over the years is that all the programs in the world don’t mean much if employees don’t know about them. Putting a Visual Communications network in place to truly engage employees is what gives them wings. A sign of the times to come.