Monday, July 6, 2009

Employee engagement at Campbell’s: It's mm, mm good

Turning poor engagement around is a challenge for any organization, large or small. Finding a recipe for success came with its own set of challenges for one of the most recognized brands in the U.S., but the company now stands at the head of the employee engagement table.

In an interview with Forbes, Douglas Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup, shared how he took a “bad” company to a high-performing “extraordinary” company. We’ve put together some of the highlights in this post, you can read the full article here.

How did he do it? With a mix of “cost-cutting, smart innovations, increased marketing and, especially, a concerted effort to reinvigorate the workforce.”

"To win in the marketplace," he has said, "we believe you must first win in the workplace. I'm obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center and keeping up energy around it." (Forbes)

The year after Conant became a part of Campbell’s he hired the help of Gallup, polling and research firm, to better understand his company’s engagement levels. Gallup found that 62% of Campbell’s managers were not actively engaged in their jobs and 12% were actively disengaged.

Today the engagement numbers look much different. According to the most recent poll, 68% of all Campbell employees say they are actively engaged, and only 3% say they are actively disengaged. The company’s engagement levels are “world-class” in Gallup’s eyes.

After Conant realized how it tied directly into shareholder returns, he used employee engagement as a tool to measure progress, build a high-performance company culture, and set high standards for Campbell’s leaders.

The company now surveys all 580 work groups at the same time once a year. Managers review the results with their direct reports and everyone is updated on their progress related to specific goals. The top quality leaders are measured on is their ability to inspire trust in those around them.

“The other thing we do is celebrate at a high level when people do things well. Learning to celebrate success is a key component of learning how to win in the market. On a personal level, I send out about 20 thank-you notes a day to staffers, on all levels. And every six weeks I have lunch with a group of a dozen or so employees, to get their perspective on the business, to address problems and to get feedback.”

How do you inspire trust in your teams? What is the most important factor any company can focus on to turn employee engagement around?

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