Now we’re speaking your language.
Few things get upper management more excited than hearing about new tactics to boost their company’s sales and profits. Commonly touted strategies for improving profit margins range include fine-tuning product assortment, improving customer service and trimming administrative expenses. But the answer might be a little closer to home than many companies realize.
Footwear industry nonprofit organization Two Ten Footwear Foundation hosted its annual HR Summit in New York on Tuesday, and a panel of experts revealed that better employee engagement might be the best route to improving a business’s financial performance.
Maria Amato, senior director of workforce surveys and analytics at technology firm CEB, was the event’s keynote speaker. John Wompey, VP of operations at Foot Locker; Pernille Spiers-Lopez, former president and CEO of Ikea North America; Len Frankel, managing partner at Abacus Group; and Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst at The NPD Group, were the event’s panelists.
Read on for three key strategies to improve employee engagement and your bottom line.
The Power of Truth & Transparency
Foot Locker’s Wompey said the retailer has made a number of changes in recent years to improve its culture around employee engagement. The foundation for those changes has been built on honest communication with employees and transparency at every stage of decision-making. In fact, Wompey said the athletic footwear-and-apparel leader now allows individual employee teams to create action plans for their stores and departments.
Harnessing Collaboration & Coordination
“Collaboration and coordination pays off,” Amato said.
And no one had a better example of this fact than former Ikea North America president and CEO Spiers-Lopez. While she had little experience in store management at the time, Spiers-Lopez was tapped several years ago to turn around a struggling Ikea store in Pittsburgh. Her success, which undoubtedly helped to catapult Spiers-Lopez to president and CEO of the multi-billion-dollar furniture chain, was driven by her reliance on employee engagement.
“I had nowhere to turn but to the people — the employees,” Spiers-Lopez said, telling the story of her revival to the then-fledgling Pittsburgh store. “Too few leaders understand that people are their most important resource.”
Keep Surveys & Employee Feedback Tools Short & Simple
Surveys can be an effective means to garner employee feedback and create meaningful and sustainable change.
Of course, many of the traditional survey designs and methodologies that companies have used are flawed.
A major tip for preparing better employee surveys, according to Amato, is to keep them short and focused. Specifically, having a max of about 20 survey questions is key.
Questions, Amato explained, should be designed to provide the right insights to support strategic action.
Further, companies should not be afraid to tweak and refine their feedback tools as many times as needed to ensure they are optimized.
Foot Locker’s Wompey said the company has tweaked its employee engagement survey multiple times over the years in an effort to get it right.