Strong employee engagement good for Vision Critical’s bottom line (National HR Awards)

Winner: Best Employee Engagement Program
By John Dujay
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/13/2017
Vision Critical
By conducting annual employee engagement surveys, along with doing plenty of followup during the year, Vision Critical has achieved a 93 per cent approval rating of its CEO and 80 per cent of its workers say the company is a great place to work, according to Glassdoor. Courtesy: Vision Critical

Vision Critical believes in the fundamental idea that when a company has engaged employees, it usually translates to happy customers.

“When people feel good, they feel like they are doing something — it does have a spillover effect onto our customers,” says Krisinda Westman, director of human resources at Vision Critical in Toronto. “If the person on the other end of the phone at Vision Critical is engaged, inspired and enjoying what they do, then it’s contagious.”

The cloud-based customer intelligence company, which has 601 employees, operates on “shared responsibility” when it comes to engaging with employees, she says. “It’s not something that can be forced. I am a firm believer that everyone has a part to play, because it is a relationship.”

“I think sometimes employees feel like it should be all up to HR to do things for them and to drive engagement but, ultimately, it comes down to everyone’s contribution, and that’s showing up with a positive attitude and doing what needs to be done; raising your hand if something’s not working and contributing in that way,” says Westman.

By conducting annual employee engagement surveys, along with doing plenty of followup during the year, Vision Critical has achieved a 93 per cent approval rating of its CEO and 80 per cent of its workers say the company is a great place to work, according to Glassdoor.

“We spend a lot of our time here so, ideally, we’re all feeling connected and passionate and emotionally invested or psychologically invested in what we’re doing,” says Westman.

“It’s just kind of that natural, intrinsic motivation that we all have as humans, as individuals, and so I don’t feel like it should be any different in the workplace.”

After the annual survey process is complete, engagement efforts continue year-round.

“We always take that feedback and then from there distill it down and look at some of the areas where we could improve,” says Westman.

“Last year, we did employee engagement sessions (which was) kind of a followup to the survey where we had groups around different geographies, and for those who wanted to participate, we sent a survey.”

One of the programs Westman is most excited about is a four-day leadership program that focuses on three key areas: know myself, manage my team and lead my business. As well, the company offers a mentorship program and a “buddy” system that helps new employees go through onboarding “in a seamless way,” she says.

Some of the fun things Vision Critical does on a regular basis include ringing a cowbell on the sales floor when a deal closes, offering coffee with the CHRO, wheeling out free beer carts and giving away hockey tickets and flight passes, says Westman.

“Sometimes, it is more social events that can help people feel more connected to their peers,” she says. “That’s primarily why we focus on it… everybody understands that and feels that within themselves from a senior-leadership perspective and so tries to inspire that within the organization.”

The company also offers an extensive performance and career planning program that offers six performance chats with a manager each year.

Vision Critical employees appreciate the ongoing discussions about employment planning. “When it comes to engagement, they want more in the way of career development, a clear sight-line to their next step,” says Westman.

Management prides itself on being open and welcoming to all employees, she says.

“I know employees here feel that all of our executive leadership team is very approachable, very accessible, and I would doubt that there is anyone in this organization who feels that they couldn’t sit down and have a conversation and maybe voice where they’re at with one of those individuals.”

The engagement effort is a constant presence for Westman and the HR team. “It’s there every day because in every conversation I’m having with employees, I am always — whether it’s conscious or not — looking to understand what’s happening with people.”

And it continues to evolve as times change, especially during the last 12 to 18 months, she says. “It’s something that we are always going to need to work at, especially when our business is very fast-paced and there is a lot of change.”

“There’s a more concerted effort towards inspiring engagement, and it’s never going to be something that we can say, ‘OK, we’re done, let’s check that off the list’ kind-of-thing,” says Westman.

And as part of the ongoing efforts to improve engagement, dialogue is crucial.

 “We might think we are communicating really well but we’re not necessarily communicating the things employees need to understand,” says Westman.

“For us, it’s really important to go out to our employees — the same way we would ask our customers to go out to their customers to seek feedback and really understand what it is that they need and how we can best support them.”

VC Cares is the company’s corporate social responsibility arm and in the past, it participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, cooked meals at Ronald McDonald House and built homes for Habitat for Humanity.

Vision Critical also offers employees time off for their own personal volunteer efforts.

For 2018, Vision Critical is planning to launch a new rewards and recognition program, as well as a quarterly pulse program to better gain insight into what drives workers, she says.

“It’s collecting information, listening to what employees are saying and then always looking for ways that we can improve either what we are doing or looking for new ways of implementing things.”

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