Magazine article Talent Development

Elevating the Employee Experience

Magazine article Talent Development

Elevating the Employee Experience

Article excerpt

Employee engagement. What is it? Where do you start? And how do you go from a place where you are managing attrition to attrition managing you?

EY, a global professional services organization of member firms with more than 200,000 employees and operating in more than 150 countries, faced a problem common in the professional services industry: attrition. In past years, attrition of personnel from the assurance practice of the U.S. firm's central region started to trend upward. Today, the U.S. firm is seeing a decrease overall and, at some levels, more than a 10 percent decrease. What happened? Did people just stop leaving?

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No, but EY realized success when it began to understand what was behind the attrition in the first place.

Connecting the dots: Exit data and onboarding

"We started centralizing our exit data and connecting it to our onboarding process," says Diana Kutz, a talent leader at EY. "By connecting these dots, we got ahead of risk. We also started conducting focus groups with our professionals on why they stay. Why people leave and why they stay is not always the same, so understanding both is equally important."

Some of the data captured include whether professionals feel they are using their skills and if they are experiencing and doing the things EY described during the interview process. Personnel also were asked if they understand EYs vision, how they fit into the vision, if they would recommend EY as a future employer to others, if they are satisfied with their decision to join EY-and would they make the same decision again, knowing what they know now.

Exit surveys also are telling. The information learned from these conversations fed into the company's onboarding process, so EY can see at an individual level how one acclimates over a period of time. "It's all about putting leading and lagging indicators together," Kutz says.

The firm also started to track if an individual's departure was a push or a pull. A push means EY had complete control over the turnover, and a pull means it did not.

A typical push could be the lack of honest feedback and passing the responsibility to someone else to deliver the performance feedback. A pull could be a situation where a professional leaves the firm to care for a sick relative or because of a spouse's employment relocation to a region where EY does not have an office.

"We directionally look for our push to come down, which indicates our culture is moving in the right direction," Kutz explains. "Since our journey began, we've seen our push come down over 15 percent and it directionally continues to come down over time, which tells me we are moving our culture in the right direction."

Next, EY introduced an engagement team survey called "Rate My Engagement," which enables team members to share their experience at the engagement team level in four key areas: team culture, flexibility, client environment/engagement, and communications.

"Collecting these insights enabled us to understand trends at the engagement team level, where our professionals spend over 80 percent of their time in an average week," Kutz notes. "Rate My Engagement also enabled our teams to focus on their unique needs as a collective team, providing greater ownership into the team's experience."

She adds: "Teams are recognizing engagement team efficiencies and, ultimately, achieving better business results, such as higher levels of retention that increases team continuity and other sustainable results."

Looking back, the best part about Rate My Engagement is how the firm has been able to replicate it. What started as an idea from junior staff, adopted by regional leadership, has been rolled out rapidly across the firm and is expanding globally.

"Connecting the engagement team experience to our exit and onboarding data has given us a deeper appreciation for what impacts the experience for our people, while seeing a direct correlation to a team's business results. …

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