As a technology company with office locations spread across the U.S. — and 20% of their workforce working remotely — Ontario Systems knew that finding a way to measure and track the engagement of their employees was critical.
The company provides software solutions to accelerate revenue recovery for market-leading clients across key verticals, including healthcare, government, and ARM markets. Ontario has recently restructured, moving from functional groups to a business-unit model.
The leadership team felt changes in the organization created some initial confusion and a breakdown in communication for some of their teams. They needed to find a way to identify challenges and barriers that were making it harder for people to do their best work, and they needed actionable data to guide their decision-making.
Past attempts to measure employee engagement were unsuccessful.
In the past, as a Best Places to Work in Indiana recipient, Ontario has participated in outside survey processes and also created their own employee pulse surveys, but saw declining participation and found it hard to quantify the results and react. Those in-house surveys left some employees indicating that they didn’t feel comfortable sharing feedback, fearful their IP address could be tracked on the tool the company was using. And the employees that did respond initially didn’t experience much change in the business based on their feedback, causing response rates to drop-off over time.
After years of wanting to affect real change on employee engagement but lacking the tools to do so, Jill Lehman, Ontario Systems’ Chief People Officer, and her team explored Emplify, and decided the solution checked all the right boxes and solved for many of the challenges they were having. “Adding Emplify Insights for our employees was a no-brainer; it allows us to dive deeper into the issues and uncover what’s causing disengagement,” she said.
Emplify gave Ontario Systems real data to back up their gut feelings.
Ontario first started measuring engagement metrics with Emplify in October 2017. The data they received helped confirm some of the gut feelings the leadership team had been having and also shed some light on specific challenges their employees were experiencing. Two of their lowest-scoring engagement drivers across the organization were role clarity and competency. This means many employees felt they weren’t completely clear on what exactly their job responsibilities entailed and/or they didn’t feel fully equipped to do their best work.
Rather than be discouraged by these findings, the Ontario leadership team saw it as a great opportunity to solidify job roles post-restructuring. “Role clarity was a big deal for us; we really drove home the message with our leaders that this is your opportunity to help people understand their roles and why they exist, and how their work impacts the business. We knew role clarity was a problem before, but now we have the tools to actually measure and improve on it,” said Kira Childers, Employee Engagement and Systems Manager for Ontario Systems, who project manages the Emplify solution and owns activation of employee engagement initiatives for the organization.
After measuring their baseline engagement data, Ontario was able to send qualitative Emplify questionnaires to employees and collect specific feedback around the challenges that existed, what was working well, and how they could make things better on their respective teams.
Focus on engagement = measurable business results.
Ontario’s vice presidents and general managers have embraced and experienced that measuring employee engagement can lead to better business results, and those leaders have been critical to driving employee participation. “I’ve seen a huge change in the level of attention from our leadership team when it comes to employee engagement. We weren’t really focusing on it before, but now our leaders are encouraging people and making participation from their teams a priority. The more responses we get, the better our data. They’ve done a great job mobilizing their teams. It shows that what people say matters to them,” said Childers.
In just one quarter, Ontario Systems went from a 78% employee response rate to an impressive 92% response rate. Their employees are seeing that leadership is listening to their feedback and using it to make positive changes in the organization. This increase in participation also shows that the employees who were previously fearful of completing internal surveys now feel it’s safe to share their honest feedback and they trust that their names and responses are kept confidential. (Emplify also has a 5+ rule, in which data can’t be sliced and diced on teams with fewer than five people — another way to keep employees’ identities protected.)
“With the help of Emplify, we’re making decisions that not only make work better for our people, but have a real, measurable business impact. The work we’ve done on employee engagement has led to a 50% decrease in turnover,” said Childers.
Good communication continues to be key.
“Emplify provides data around things you would normally just feel. You may have this sense that there are problems but you don’t know exactly what or why, and with Insights’ conditions and drivers, you see clearly and specifically those areas your teams need to address,” said Childers.
Ontario Systems has made amazing progress in a short amount of time and their overall employee engagement score has increased quarter-over-quarter. Senior leadership buy-in and effective communication have been key. The leadership team has done a phenomenal job driving a culture of engagement and regularly communicates the “why” of business decisions — both team- and company-wide — with employees, to show them why their work matters and how they make an impact.