Sarah Rentfro is the EVP of Culture and Development at Embark, a boutique financial consultancy. Here, she writes about Embark's high employee engagement and how the company uses Lattice to enhance Embark's company culture and overall employee experience.
Spend a few moments walking around Embark’s workplace and you'll quickly see how we feel about our people. They're the focal point of everything we do, the bright star that Embark’s growing solar system revolves around. Therefore, it just stands to reason that we want to develop our Embarkers, foster an inclusive and innovative environment, and generally give folks something to smile about as they go about their work.
What we're talking about is employee engagement and what it brings to our unique culture as well as the employee experience that we at Embark hold so sacred. And to help us reach our lofty goals, Embark partners with Lattice to leverage the profound, granular insights their engagement feedback platform provides our decision-makers.
Think of Lattice as the light switch that illuminates the expectations, concerns, goals, and aspirations of our team members, giving our leadership a distinct sense of direction and strategy that aligns our people and our vision.
Culture makes every organization go ‘round. It enhances productivity and, for the enterprises that pay it sufficient attention and care, provides a unique competitive advantage that’s nearly impossible to beat, much less mimic. Employee engagement feeds that culture along with sound policies and procedures to form a satisfying, healthy work environment that induces success from the organization as well as its individual employees.
Further, it’s management that drives much of that engagement, accounting for up to 70% of the variance found in engagement survey results across modern industry. When a mere 30% of the overall workforce in the US are engaged at work, it’s obvious that management and employers themselves have a lot of work in front of them.
Of course, Embark understands the slippery slope that faces organizations and how constant vigilance is necessary to prevent culture, engagement, and the workplace itself from hurtling down a Slip ‘n’ Slide of decline. For that reason, Embark uses a dedicated employee recognition platform to keep our workforce fully engaged, motivated, incentivized, and with their collective eye on the organizational prize.
Similarly, we utilize a survey system to constantly monitor our culture, look for areas of improvement, and ensure a robust and satisfying workplace that, naturally, provides the fertile ground for employee engagement to take root. These are just some of the tools Embark employs as part of our operations, a component of what made us one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2018, and continues to propel us to succeed, grow, and learn.
Obviously, it’s clear that all roads thus far have been leading towards our work with Lattice as our focus narrows on employee engagement, how to accurately measure it, and the tremendous importance it wields on the ultimate success and longevity of any organization, Embark included.
Simply put, an engaged employee feels passionate about their position, the role they play in the organization, and commits themselves to a greater collective good. Employee engagement directly correlates with productivity, as evidenced by a highly engaged employee’s 20% greater effectiveness on the job. Furthermore, such an employee is also 87% less likely to leave their company, meaning everyone benefits when a worker is engaged and committed to their position. This dynamic drives that healthy culturewe mentioned, also promoting a satisfying work experience that is contagious and perpetuating.
Granted, employee engagement looks like a patently qualitative concept which, as your undergrad stats course taught you, doesn’t inherently lend itself to this data and metric-driven world. However, that’s precisely what makes Lattice such a valuable partner, transforming qualitative thoughts into quantitative, concrete data points that an enterprise can measure, track, and analyze to identify trends and assign goals.
Speaking of goals, all of the actionable insight in the world does you little good if you never act on it. In other words, action planning unlocks feedback’s power, transforming the people data into decision-making that spurs growth, deepens engagement, and enhances corporate culture. In fact, an organization that takes the time and effort to collect feedback but doesn't act upon the results might be doing more harm than good, essentially telling its employees that they're simply going through the motions to appease the masses and don't care enough to act on their collective voice.
Obviously, that's not how Embark operates, as everything we do and say carries authenticity and sincerity with it. Embark is about action, not empty words, which is exactly why Lattice and the employee engagement feedback they provide is so instrumental. Lattice gives us the people data we need to establish goals that we as an organization tirelessly strive to reach. This process is what allows us to continually evolve and improve, growing with our people and the marketplace itself.
In specific terms, Embark uses Lattice for a few critical functions that will expand over time. The basis for our engagement initiative is our Embark Way survey, essentially an employee engagement survey that concentrates on a number of different areas, including psychological safety, work, relationships, team culture, self-advocacy, and community. Since Lattice has doctors of psychology on staff, the survey questions are incredibly insightful and specifically targeted to maximize clarity and impact.
Looking at Embark's first survey results from Lattice, it should come as no surprise that nearly every topic dealing with culture, commitment, and self-efficacy scored remarkably high. In fact, our top 10 survey results are basically a list of the goals and ideals that Embark holds closest to our collective heart:
If we were to focus on one particular data point, however, our 93.5% participation rate speaks volumes to the teamwork and collective spirit to improve and excel that occupies every corner of Embark. Naturally, participation rates correlate to engagement since, to state the obvious, a disengaged workforce wouldn’t bother to participate in the survey in the first place.
Compared to typical participation rates between 65% and 80%, that 93.5% says everything anyone needs to know about Embarkers and how they feel about the organization.
As tempting as it might sound to use the survey results as an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back, our primary focus from our work with Lattice is to see where Embark can become an even better, happier, more productive organization. Going forward, we already have initiatives in mind to improve Embark's diversity climate as well as management's communication with employees.
To that point, the coming months will see manager effectiveness surveys through Lattice that will dig deeper into the specific details of management’s communications, actions, and overall abilities. Suffice it to say, we aren't happy with high marks that would delight any other company. Embark wants to strive for and hit 100% in everything we do. And if we ever don't hit that mark, we want to learn what we can do better, action plan, and improve.
Embark isn't the type of organization to look backward with a self-congratulatory grin on our faces. Sure, it's nice to know that what we're doing is working, but it's the future that concerns us most, not the road behind us. With Lattice as a partner, we’ll have the information needed to maximize employee engagement throughout our ranks, fully leveraging the strengths of our greatest asset – our people.
This article originally appeared on Embark’s blog.