Forgive me, but this may be a #notsohumblebrag.
We’ve had some proud moments at Stackla in recent years, including being acknowledged as an employer of choice by the awesome folks at Great Place to Work. Our 2017 and 2018 placements in their Best Places to Work studies were certainly welcomed and have been really valuable for us from an employer branding and talent attraction perspective. I’ve always said though that the People & Culture programs behind these annual awards (and the work we do internally, week in and week out, to iterate on them) are actually far more important — and regularly measuring program impact and engagement is paramount.
Measuring and influencing employee engagement is one of the most fundamental strategic benefits that People & Culture practitioners can bring to the bottom line of an organization. As a leadership team, we’ve been measuring engagement regularly via our global Culture Audit for over 3 years now. We took our first baseline measure in mid-2015 and subsequently made high employee engagement an organizational and executive-level goal. Ever since, we have followed the simple formula of measure, review, act, then measure again to lift scores company-wide.
I’m very proud to say that we’ve managed to increase results incrementally each year with this approach, and in our February 2019 administration we achieved our highest global engagement score ever: 89.9%.
Now, I’ve been working in the People & Culture space for many moons and can tell you, this is pretty special. In their most recent State of the Global Workforce poll, Gallup(arguably the pioneers in the employee engagement space) found that between 70-85% of the workforce is still disengaged, so we count ourselves amongst the lucky (and happy) few.
Whilst this result in and of itself is an important piece of data, there is of course a much deeper reason for leadership teams to care about engagement levels and invest in employees than “good feels”. Investing in your employees is a great business opportunity; it’s been shown again and again to deliver increased productivity and revenue (probably why investors even care about it these days), and we can attest to this. Our efforts to increase engagement levels have most certainly contributed to an upward trend in revenue. In fact, this record engagement score has also coincided with record results for us commercially at Stackla, right across the business.
Addressing employee engagement is never one-size-fits-all and requires regular adjustment. The actions we’ve taken over the years to impact scores have varied greatly. One year, we rolled out global fitness challenges, volunteering days and community support initiatives to give back and help the team connect in purposeful ways. Another year, we launched NextGen, our emerging managers program, as well as Stackla Switch, which offers international exchange or relocation opportunities to help us retain top talent and further build organizational capability. We’ve also put an Employee Share Scheme (ESS) in place and other employee recognition programs to show our staff how much we value them. We’ve basically directed resources wherever a meaningful opportunity to enhance engagement existed.
Measurement is definitely the first step companies need to take before they can implement meaningful actions to improve engagement. If you’ve never measured this stuff before, a people analytics platform like Culture Amp is a great place to start. They provide you with the evidence-based surveys you need to get rolling, their survey tool and reporting functionality is top-notch and, best of all, they have pretty much every leading tech company on their books so can provide users like us with incredibly relevant and valuable data to benchmark against. Whether you’re a founder, an executive or an employee in a small business and highly competitive industry like ours, it’s pretty meaningful to see Stackla outperforming our tech peers, large and small, across key engagement areas:
(Our Global Culture Audit / Feb 2019 results compared to the New Tech data set within CultureAmp. Yes, that comparison column is looking particularly healthy!)
Whilst we’re definitely pausing to celebrate this achievement, we still have plenty to work on. Amongst other things, we’ve clearly got some lifting to do on the ‘Action’ cluster of questions — specifically, for some Stacklamites (particularly our newbies) there’s a bit of a disconnect between the survey and existing or new programs and initiatives. There’s a great opportunity for us to step up communication around how we plan to address engagement moving forward and provide better updates regarding progress.
All in all, it’s a great position to be in though. The next big challenge will be maintaining this level of engagement and holding onto the “Stackla Magic” as we scale. Easier said than done? I imagine so. Experience tells me, it’s a lot easier to impact engagement in a smaller company. According to Glassdoor, only a handful of companies have maintained great culture as they have grown from startups to large employers, being named both as a Small to Medium Best Place to Work and, in later years, as a Large Best Place to Work. In fact, it looks like only 10 U.S. employers have ever accomplished this impressive feat.
Regardless, that’s our BHAG and we’re going after it – and I’m already looking forward to the blog post in 18 months where I tell you all about it.