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It’s About the Employees: 3 Key Take-Aways from the Employee Engagement Conference


At the end of July, Fierce was at the Human Capital Institute’s Employee Engagement Conference here in Seattle. Tracking and improving employee engagement has significant impact on all facets of a business – from the top down and frontline up. So we were lucky to hear from innovative companies in two information-packed days.

Here we share three key points along with questions you can ask to further embed the takeaways into your office.

1. Fun is Strategic. Janeen Speer and Ashley Dalziel from lululemon shared a wonderful presentation called “Behind the Seams: lululemon’s Secrets to Maximizing our People.”  They shared that fun is a strategic component of lululemon’s cultureWe often hear about organizations working to increase the fun factor at work with a Ping-Pong or foosball table, office Olympics, or some activity along those lines.  Fierce recently had a hula hoop contest during a company-wide happy hour.

Questions to ask: Are you the person/team that is creating more fun for the organization? Are there areas that fun could really move the needle? How can you incorporate more fun – on your team, in your office, at your house?

2. Start with Your People. Dr. Joe Garcia from The Home Depot presented on his efforts to prove the core proposition of his organization: “If we take care of our associates, and if [they] take care of our customers, everything else will take care of itself.”

The premise is that by starting with the associate, and ensuring their engagement and job satisfaction, customer service will be elevated leading to profit gain.  Dr. Garcia shared data from Home Depot studies comparing stores with a high Associate Commitment Index (ACI) to those with lower ACI’s.  Controlling for market conditions and location – the data was clear.  A higher ACI correlated to higher sales, customer satisfaction, and decreased employee turnover. 

Questions to ask: Are you putting your employees first? Do you have any metrics or data in place that can help you determine that ROI? If you don’t, is there a good starting point?

3. Give the Feedback. Our Fierce colleague, Katelyn Sorensen, attended a presentation by Karen Shellenback, from Bersin by Deloitte.  In this session Karen shared with attendees that based on current projections, 70% of the workforce will be Millennials by the year 2025. That is a sobering statistic and means many standard business practices will need to be re-evaluated.  Specifically, in the realm of giving feedback.

As a common practice, organizations tend to give employees feedback during performance reviews. Millennials, according to Karen, crave feedback at least 4 times a week. If 70% of the workforce wants more than 100 times the current model, most organizations will have to take a really hard look at their current practices.

Questions to ask: How often are your employees getting feedback? How do you know? Are your employees equipped with skills to give robust and frequent feedback? If not, should you invest in that skill?

So tell us – how will you put these takeaways to use?


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