Today we hear from Charles Cornwell—General Manager of SMG Employee Experience—and learn some best practices for employee experience (EX) programs, how to attract + retain top talent, and what leading brands are doing to improve employee engagement.
What is your role at SMG?
I am the General Manager of SMG’s EX practice. My focus is to help organizations improve the employee experience by understanding every aspect of the employee journey—from the first day they are employed to their last day on the job. Our team partners with global brands to measure employee engagement, turnover, retention trends, and other factors impacting the employee experience.
What are a few tenets of a best-in-class employee experience program?
The best programs are focused on not just collecting data but producing tangible outcomes. These programs typically:
What are some methods companies use to collect and act on feedback?
The most forward-thinking companies focus on these components:
With competition for talent increasingly high, how are brands attracting and retaining talent?
There are several innovative ways brands are competing for talent in 2020. Based on the restaurant, retail, c-store, healthcare, and grocery clients SMG partners with, I recommend businesses focus on the following:
As you surface employee insights, what are leading brands doing to increase employee engagement?
Research indicates managers are responsible for 80% of the variability in employee engagement. Increasingly, the onus is on the managers to increase engagement, but they often lack the tools needed.
Leading brands are developing effective coaching for managers and holding them accountable for increasing employee engagement. Most brands realize that engagement is an ongoing process and that everything can’t be changed immediately. Through research, they are determining which aspects of the employee journey are priorities, developing improvement initiatives, and establishing realistic goals.
Brands are also recognizing and capitalizing on individuality. They recognize that a diverse employee base has diverse needs and expectations, and understand these differences. Next, they design training, development, and rewards + recognition programs that truly engage employees. These brands also work to understand what motivates employees and develop individual action plans to improve the employee experience for everyone.
How has the employee experience evolved since you began working in the industry?
Although the notion of employee feedback dates back more than 40 years when they were called personnel surveys, today’s feedback is nothing like it was 10 or even five years ago. Today’s employee experience is a science—it includes channels that facilitate instant two-way dialogue between employees and management, as well as technology, to identify those employees likely to churn so retention efforts can be put in place. In addition, today’s programs capture feedback throughout the employee journey.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I have always been interested in research and statistics. However, being able to apply this to management and development is particularly rewarding. While all research is important, I think identifying and improving the basic tenants of a company’s relationship with its employees is among the most important work. I find great satisfaction collaborating with leaders to look introspectively at employee feedback—and really the entire EX journey—and helping them act on that data to improve employees satisfaction. I especially enjoy working for SMG because of our philosophy, technology, and consulting model. SMG was involved in the creation of The Service Profit Chain, a model demonstrating that engaged employees are more loyal, helping create highly satisfied and loyal customers. Through our work with clients over three decades, we’ve proved this time and time again.