How to Keep a Global Workforce Engaged

Gayle Wiley, Chief People Officer, Lifesize
Date: February 27, 2018

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Lifesize Live!, the live web show produced entirely using the Lifesize platform.

I'm your host, James Ofczarzak, and today our guest, Gayle Wiley, Chief People Officer here at Lifesize, is going to be discussing how to engage a global workforce. Thanks for joining us, Gayle.

Thank you, James. I'm delighted to be here. Thank you for having me here to talk about one of my favorite topics.

Absolutely. Well, we're happy to have you. So let's start just by defining some terms first. Employee engagement — what are we talking about when we talk about employee engagement?

So when I think of employee engagement, I think about the emotional commitment you have with a job, with the organization, and with its goals. And if you're emotionally committed, your job really has a deeper personal meaning to you; it becomes more than just a job. That deeper meaning comes from your relationship with your colleagues and being in a role that leverages your strength, and what you find is that when people are totally engaged, they have incredible discretionary effort. They'll go above and beyond the call of duty to get things done. You come in at 7 in the morning, you have a full day, you're packing up to go home when a colleague or a customer calls for something, and you'll spend an extra two hours at your desk without even being asked. Those are all things I think of when I think of engagement.

Sure, absolutely. So customer engagement — why is that important to companies today?

Well, it's important because engaged people are motivated and are able to do extraordinary work. When you look at all the metrics of revenue, profitability, quality and customer retention, if employee engagement is high, all of those metrics are high. Gallup and McKenzie have done lots of studies and work on the topic of engagement. And Gallup surveyed thousands of companies, and they used the analogy comparing the survey results to rowers. They said that at any given time at a company, there are three groups of people: 30% kind of fall in that group that you call paddlers. You imagine they've got their oars in the water, they know where the North Star is, they know what their individual role is in getting things done, and they're all going in the same direction. 52% are passengers — they've got their oars in the water, they have somewhat of an understanding of where the North Star is, but they're not quite sure what their role is. So they're busy, but they're really just passengers. And then you have 18% who have their oars in the water, and they're going in the opposite direction than you want them to go. So ideally, the ultimate goal is to have everyone become paddlers. Happy employees and happy customers mean customer retention goes up. It also helps in your ability to attract and retain good people.

Sure, absolutely. Those are shocking, shocking figures. As you think about the global landscape and other companies out there, who are some companies that are doing this well?

I think of Google. Another company that comes to mind is Zappos. I think of the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. Zappos really spent a lot of time on building a strong culture and putting those values in place, which is the framework and anchor for company culture. When they recruit people, they recruit people who not only align with the culture but also people who work well together, have the skills, and can play together. So it creates somewhat of an esprit decan take to apply this at their companies? corps—it's a magical kind of environment.

So for those folks who are watching at home or in the office, what would be some action steps that they can take to apply this at their companies?

Yeah, I think from a company perspective, there are some things that need to happen first. The first thing is to create a strong positive culture and have values because this creates the personality of an organization. It starts there. Number two is having strong leadership and strong management. If you're looking to engage folks, it really starts with not only winning their minds, but also their hearts. And from a leader's perspective, that means two things: trust and compassion. Employees need to trust you, which means doing what you say you're going to do. Making sure employees have everything they need to be successful in the way of information is just as important as well, and making sure they're interacting with the right folks across the organization is key. Compassion is critical — it's about caring for your folks and getting to know them on a very personal level and knowing what's important to them. When I think of compassion and engagement, I consider it a very personal thing. What might be engaging to me may not be so engaging to you. What may be important to you is cool technology, but for me it might be autonomy or more flex time. But it's important that you ask the question, find the answer, and then try to provide it. “Thank you” is also important, and when I say thank you, I mean recognition. You know when good things are done; there are high fives in the hallway, virtual high fives, even handwritten notes. I remember several jobs ago, my boss wrote me a letter at the end of the year mentioning all the things that I had done that he thought were creating value, and I still have that note today.

Yeah, it goes a long way.

And last, communication. Most environments are not unlike ours; they're very fluid, lots of things are happening rapidly and things are constantly changing, so it's important to stay connected. There are formal mechanisms with town halls and one-on-ones, but really staying in sync and making sure everyone has real-time information as to what's going on is crucial. All of those things go to make up that environment and really facilitate and help with engagement.

And I know the Lifesize platform really helps out a lot with that with our employees all over the world. I know that with one click, it's pretty easy to get in touch.

Absolutely, and if they're not live, you can record it and they can see it later.

Yeah. So it's obvious that you're very passionate about this topic, and I would love to kind of bring it down to a personal level. What does this mean for you and your role here at Lifesize?

Yeah, you know, I am a career HR professional and I'm very passionate about this topic, but it is my personal mission that for every Lifesizer, the Lifesize experience in working here is the most significant. And when they look back on the work here, I want them to look back and say, "This was the most significant in my career. This was the very best experience." So for me, every day when I'm coming in, I'm focusing on what I can do to make sure everyone is in a role that leverages their strength, they're being challenged, they're in an environment and in a strong culture where they can do their best work, and they have the opportunity to learn and grow. So for me, being focused on that every day, it takes my personal engagement off the charts.

Right, absolutely. Well, we're thankful for all that you've done here at Lifesize, and thank you so much for spending this time with us this morning. And everybody at home, I hope you'll join us on Thursday as we meet with Ken Conn at i2i Technologies. He's going to talk with us about innovation in the distance learning space. Thank you very much, and have a great day.

Bye, everybody.

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