Last Friday, Engage Consulting recognized the winners of the Best Place to Work Awards during an intimate lunch at a local restaurant. Winners DHL and Runners up P&G and ICI were all in attendance to receive their awards. When getting leaders together from three companies that are recognized for their ability to create a great place to work, it doesn’t take long for the conversation to turn to their work experiences in engaging people.
While sharing their success stories we learned that all three companies had one thing in common: engaging their people has been the most important factor in the recent success of their businesses.
Asif Malik, VP Life Sciences and HR from ICI, shared that when he was appointed as VP for Life Sciences he had no experience in the Pharma and animal healthcare trading business. He found himself part of a team that was not clear about the future, not connected with each other and had little confidence in their abilities. In his words: “I only focused on getting the team connected, use the expertise in the team to co-create a future strategy together and gave people the freedom to deliver on the commitments that they had made themselves. The results were astonishing as the company has doubled its size over the last few years.
Ahson Nasim, Head of HR at DHL, shared a similar experience. In 2008 when the new CEO of DHL Pakistan, Safaraz Siddiqui, was appointed, he made a commitment to all employees in the company: “if you look after the customer I will look after you”. This was not a hollow statement, as at the end of 2008 DHL Express globally was severely hit by the economic crisis. As a result of the crisis, DHL imposed a freeze, on any salary increase worldwide. However, Safaraz took initiative to fight to get his team in Pakistan the salary increase they deserved. His team had made a significant turnaround and delivered never-before-seen-results’. The salary increase was implemented and as they say, the rest is history. And the result are there for all to see, by 2011 DHL Pakistan rose from rank #207 (out of 220 territories where DHL is present) to #1 in employee engagement.
The biggest question we had to ask was, what comes first? Engaging employees that then drive business results or business results that drive employee engagement? Najia Amin, Head of HR of P&G, was very clear as she says it all starts with your people. Engaged employees drive improved business results, which in return enhance the motivating levels of your employees creating a flywheel that will feed on each other.
The one thing that I have learned from these Best Places to Work organizations is that every leader can create an Engagement Flywheel. It is a combination of an unwavering belief that your business results are all about your people, and translating that belief by consistently and credibly implementing a million small actions that help create a sense of belonging to the company, aligns team members behind the company’s direction and gives employees an opportunity to develop and grow. Business results will follow and when they do and you continue your people agenda and see that your engagement levels will keep on improving.
And who knows… maybe one day your company will be the Best Place to Work!
– Paul Keijzer