Imagine a diverse group of your employees coming together to talk “productively” about the issues you face and collaborating to come up with better ideas.
That’s exactly what I saw at the first meeting with our new Employee Advisory Council. We all realize that sustaining a strong workplace culture and even making it better can be a moving target. This council is a new concept we’re using to help.
We have successfully operated a Client Advisory Council for years, and we wanted to apply a similar concept to address some key themes that came from our annual employee survey. We see the Employee Advisory Council as a platform to provide input regarding operational initiatives, improve communication, validate concepts and originate new ideas.
Here’s a look at how it works:
- Engage a cross-functional group.
Our council brings together employees from different departments, geographies and office types (remote, regional and corporate office). Some have been with us for a while and others have joined us in the past year. Some sought out jobs with us while others became Marco employees through an acquisition. That diversity is important.
- Commit to a sustainable program.
We develop a quarterly schedule in advance with committed dates and times to encourage full participation. We commit to an agenda of topics to be addressed, provide background information on the topics and give assignments to the group to complete prior to the meetings to increase engagement.
- Foster open dialogue.
In my opinion, the owner or CEO shouldn’t lead the council meetings; however, they should fully endorse the initiative. We use a third-party consultant to facilitate our council. It helps members feel more comfortable to answer freely and keeps things on task. We want the council members to have open, honest and deeper conversations on key topics. Some of the best conversations are when they get to hear one another’s varying perspectives and then work together to navigate the next steps.
- Address the hard stuff.
Benefits, communication and compensation often come up in our survey as opportunities for improvement. It can be challenging to know where to start. With the council’s help, we are digging into these tough topics to better understand and outline action steps to address them.
- Execute on the feedback.
We know that the power of this council is not simply in their sharing, but rather how we execute on the feedback. After each meeting, we identify an action plan based on their input that is summarized and shared with our executive leadership team. We’re getting good traction and have successfully implemented several of the action steps. I’m pleased with the progress and look forward to more good outcomes.
Everyone wants a good culture, but it takes more than good intentions to make that happen. Input needs to be recognized and evaluated, decisions need to be made and commitments need to be executed on. Our Employee Advisory Council gives us better visibility and a broader perspective within our organization. Together, we can more effectively manage our culture and create a better place to work for everyone.