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How to Be a Culture-Driven CEO

Employee engagement leads to business turnaround.


How does a company raise a 2-star Glassdoor rating to 4.1 stars? Great question.

Our live panel, Actionable Advice From Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs, discussed this topic with CEOs from Glassdoor’s 2016 Highest Rated CEOs list, including David Ossip, Chairman and CEO atCeridian and JJ Hurley, CEO of GDH Consulting.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Employee engagement leads business turnaround.

Although David Ossip is the Chairman and CEO of Ceridian, he thinks of himself as the Chief Culture Officer instead, because he spends half of his time focused on employee engagement. “A prerequisite for being a CEO is being able to focus on culture,” he said.

Why does this matter? A few years before Ossip joined Ceridian, it suffered from slipping customer service levels, a below-average Glassdoor rating, and was losing customers.

[Related: Employers, learn how your company culture can set you apart from your competitors]

To solve this problem, the company conducted extensive surveys and internal research to discover that it had a “culture of survival”. Ceridian then rebranded with the tag “Make Work Life Better” and selected aspirational core values, including “customer focus,” “transparency” and “optimism.”

Since then, this continually evolving process of engaging employees and listening to their feedback has led to:

  1. Employee engagement surveys every six months
  2. Sharing survey results with the entire company — the good and the bad
  3. Identifying five key areas to improve
  4. Check-ins every three months on progress
  5. Progress results in six-month surveys

Ossip also conducts regular town hall meetings, traveling to many different office locations to understand the needs of employees in local offices. He said that the process of building trust requires patience, a willingness to answer difficult questions without a rosy filter, and continual reinforcement of his availability to answer employees’ questions. He also focused on building acceptance of diversity into the culture, and that included setting the example that everyone’s voice is important.

Ceridian’s focus on employee engagement has translated directly into business results. The company recently had a record quarter and has seen its market penetration grow to 70%. But it isn’t just Ceridian’s CEO that inspires others: it also invests heavily in leadership training for all. Noting that the #1 source of attrition is dissatisfaction with a direct manager, Ceridian trains all managers in empathy, listening skills, and team-building.

And, clearly, it’s working. Here’s an excerpt from a recent review of Ceridian on Glassdoor, titled “It keeps getting better”: “I have been with Ceridian for nearly 20 years and there has never been a better time to be a part of this company. We have always had great people who genuinely care about our customers and each other…. Our leadership team is very hands on. They work alongside us and recognize the value we contribute to the success of the company.”

2. How to create a functional family.

JJ Hurley shared his perspective on how the company creates a welcoming environment for Millennials. “This generation wants to work, and we want to make them feel part of something, and show them the path to success.”

Like Ossip, Hurley also addresses employee concerns directly. He hosts meetings every two weeks with 8–10 individuals who can ask him any questions they like. Honestly answering questions about why decisions were made is the very definition of transparency — and it works, given his top CEO rating. “People can read people who are fake,” he said, underscoring Ossip’s comment about not answering questions through a rosy filter.

A GDH Consulting employee recently wrote on Glassdoor, “Absolutely Awesome place to work! everyone is very supportive. really get that family sense from the moment you walk in…management is very thorough and engaged. best success plan, best management, best environment! you will never truly enjoy a career until you work at GDH!”

3. Glassdoor affects CEOs greatly.

Both CEOs, Ossip and Hurley, are highly attuned to the importance of Glassdoor for recruiting. Ossip said, “It’s the #1 place people go to understand our culture.” He advised against targeting only satisfied employees for reviews, noting that a culture of acceptance means acknowledging that everyone is important. Hurley said, “Sometimes you read a post that makes you cringe, but you have take it as something you need to know.”

As we learned from both CEO’s stories above, offering employees venues for voicing concerns is an essential component of success. When employees feel heard and see their concerns being addressed internally, they will feel less of a need to vent in a public forum.

Listen to the complete recording of our Live Panel: Actionable Advice From Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs now!

This article was originally published on Glassdoor.

Originally published at medium.com

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