Cardinal Health HRD reveals secret to employee engagement

Engaging workers is one thing — sustaining it is another

Cardinal Health HRD reveals secret to employee engagement

Sustaining employee engagement has been a top priority for many companies amidst an uncertain year. Engaging employees at work may seem pretty straightforward, if you only consider work outcomes.

However, 2020 has proven that engagement is linked with the entire employee experience. This means it’s affected by everything from their daily dealings with the company and its internal systems, to how they feel they’re being cared for, professionally and personally.

This makes Cardinal Health’s high engagement score of 85% even more impressive — and their Employer of Choice 2020 award much-deserved.

As HRD found out, the secret to the healthcare services company’s sustainable engagement lies in their longstanding efforts to ensure that employees show up to work every day with passion and a strong sense of purpose.

“Employees know why they work at Cardinal Health and understand the role each person plays in improving the lives of people every day,” said Alice Chou, Head of HR, Asia Pacific at Cardinal Health.

“They are empowered and able to unleash their full potential at work. This allows them to take satisfaction in what they do and enjoy every moment at work.”

Read more: How to maintain a good culture amid high growth

Bank on opportunities in a crisis
Like many HR heads, Chou has faced challenges amidst a prolonged pandemic year, including in the area of engagement. But she has equally found opportunities in this people-centred crisis.

She highlighted three prominent areas:

  • Overall employee engagement – “How do we continue to motivate employees who are working remotely, retain our culture of collaboration, drive performance, and maintain their connection with the broader organisation?”
  • Workplace transformation – “What can we do to help employees adapt and embrace our new ways of working? How can we make employees less anxious about change?”
  • Performance – “How can we embed the performance mindset among employees? How do we help leaders focus more on outcomes than on time spent at work?”

To address those issues, Cardinal Health’s leadership team focused on actions and activities that would enable employees to adapt to change more quickly.

They thus worked to support employees by strengthening communication, enhancing social cohesion, bolstering well-being, and ensuring an “equal playing field” for the workforce.

Some initiatives included increasing employee-leader interaction through virtual communication channels, such as podcasts, town halls, and also more personal sessions like a ‘chat’ with the company president/CEO.

“These helped clarify the rationale for change with employees so that we could strengthen alignment to our vision and mission across the organisation,” Chou said. “This clear understanding of our actions and purpose helped to drive performance.”

Simultaneously, leadership worked on establishing an equal playing field for those working remotely as well as for those on-site by highlighting the importance of assessing employee performance based on output.

Read more: Remote work: How to manage your team

How to be an employer of choice
Enhancing social cohesion amongst team members has also been crucial to ensure a continued sense of connectivity while employees worked remotely. The HR team increased the frequency of virtual social sessions such as ‘happy hours’ and celebrations, and encouraged informal check-ins to allow employees to share their experiences and concerns.

“We established virtual office hours for specific business topics locally, regionally and globally, so that employees would know who they could go to for support,” Chou said.

Additional support was rendered through Employee Assistance Programs as well as well-being and mental health applications.

Going forward, the HR head said that they will continue to focus their efforts on helping the organisation better adapt to change.

“We will continue to monitor internal and external engagement, talent trends and the needs of our people as we consider how to ‘flex’ our approach, so we are able to bring the best out of our people and sustain their satisfaction levels,” she said.

“In terms of priorities, we will support change in the areas of the leadership mindset, performance management, management capability enhancement, and technology advancement.”

As for how companies can maintain their status as an Employer of Choice in a highly volatile and uncertain world, she said it’s all about being attentive.

“Put employees at the centre of everything you do,” she said. “Listen to them. Invest in them. Value and recognise their contributions, and engage with them through better career and development opportunities, and a good work environment.

“Also, stay vigilant to external trends and people decisions made by competitors to refine your own organisation’s talent strategy, so that your company will always be attractive to internal and external talent.”

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