"Our people are at the heart of our success"

Vista Group's CPO Anna Ferguson on initiatives that strengthen employee engagement

"Our people are at the heart of our success"

New Zealand-based Vista Group provides technology solutions for the film industry around the world.

When it comes to enhancing employee engagement, the company works to recognise what is important to their employees, according to chief people officer, Anna Ferguson. And one of the key factors that contributes to its positive work culture is a focus on feedback.

“We take our time to listen and respond to the input and the feedback of our employees,” she said. “We do regular engagement surveys. Every manager has the ability to respond and acknowledge feedback from their team members but we also aggregate it and collate it on a departmental level and a global level. That helps inform us on what we need to do from a policy and process.”

Ferguson used an example of how Vista Group took action to support employees amid the cost-of-living crisis. She said it has policies around flexibility, hybrid working and having a shorter work week.

“We offer a four-and-a-half-day work week, it’s one of our most popular benefits that we offer across the organisation globally,” she said. “We understand that that is such an important part of the employment experience for our people, that they have that flexibility to take Friday afternoons off and still get paid at 100%.

“It means that we won't take it away because we know from what our people tell us that that is a really meaningful benefit. They are some of the ways that we were able to tailor what we're doing according to what our people are telling us.”

Enhancing employee engagement, diversity

Another way Vista Group enhances employee engagement and satisfaction is by having interesting work and providing good career pathways, Ferguson said.

“We've been working on making sure that we have designed work for our people that is challenging; it's working on great tech, it's being really clear about how that impacts our clients,” she said. “So there's that real satisfaction towards what you're doing in your day to day job and it has an impact beyond what you can see.”

In addition, Vista Group has set up a diversity council to understand perspectives from their diverse workforce.

“It's focused on folks from our rainbow community, from our neurodiverse community, folks with different gender and different ethnicities,” she said. “And we're pooling that together so that when we are rolling out new initiatives, when we're looking at new policies and practices, we have a diverse range of perspectives that can look at those things through a different lens to understand any potential impacts that they may have or where we might need to tweak it.”

And it was through the diversity lens that Vista Group realised it had fallen behind on how it was supporting new parents in the company, Ferguson said.

“We've just introduced – at the end of last year and we're still rolling it out through the globe – enhanced parental leave policies which are gender neutral, so they support both men and women,” she said.

“We've applied the same principle but tailored it according to the local legislation in every part of our organisation [globally]. In New Zealand, we take the government paid parental leave and top that up to full pay for our employees so that they are not disadvantaged for the period of time that they're on leave.”

The value of feedback

Vista Group has been going through an organisational transformation over the past 12 months, Ferguson said. Having previously been a collection of seven different companies, it has come together as an integrated global entity.

“We're taking feedback as we go through, as we always do,” she said. “However, the key part of that is how do we form shared ways of working together. We're trying to connect our cultures so we're also going through a cultural transformation at the same time. And we're developing what we're referring to as global shared standards.”

Ferguson explained that the company is going through a co-creation exercise to understand the ways of working that determine how the company is at its absolute best, and distilling them into a set of shared standards.

“To that point around feedback, our people are informing us of what's important to them as we develop these shared standards and shared ways of working,” she said. “So at the end, when we work through this over the next couple of months… we will have identified what's the secret sauce of Vista Group when we're at our best.”

Advice for HR teams

For HR teams looking to improve their organisation’s employee engagement, Ferguson emphasised having an understanding of what’s important to your people and how you can adopt part, if not all, of it.

“Make sure that you're tying it to your strategy and understanding what success looks like,” she said.

“So there's always that really clear link between what the business needs to do to be successful and how you can support your people in a way that they are contributing to that success. But you're also giving back and ensuring that you're recognising the value and the contribution of the people that are supporting your business. And then it becomes a virtuous cycle.”

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