Employee engagement is essential to the success of any company. It ensures that employees are happy with, and proud of, their workplace. And, in return, they are committed, productive and high-performing contributors to the company’s bottom line. Along with incentivizing your workforce, in order to engage employees, a company’s culture must be perfectly designed so that everyone has an understanding that they are working toward the same goal, while their behaviors are aligned to financial performance.
As Chief Human Resources Officer, I focus on enhancing Voya Financial’s human capital to achieve financial goals. I strongly believe that culture is one of the key ingredients to business success, so I help connect our employees to the production of financial results by having each employee understand how they relate to the strategy and the profitability of the company.
Designing a perfect culture that enhances the employee experience
While every company has a culture, some are created by design, and some are the result of neglecting to design. Those that are successful are the ones purposely designed to meet the needs of the business. A diverse and high-performance culture that provides a supportive work environment is one of the most important aspects of an organization’s ability to achieve meaningful business results.
When designing a culture that enables an enhanced employee experience that ensures prospective employees are excited to join a company and current employees are committed to a company, it is important to focus on several efforts, including:
1. Ensuring your company has a strong social purpose:
Employees want to work for a company that has a strong social purpose that’s driven throughout the organization. When employees are passionate about the company’s vision and mission, and understand their role in achieving that vision, they are engaged and enthusiastic high-performers.
2. Operating in a way that is ethically, social and environmentally responsible:
Empower employees by providing them with the necessary resources to invest in the community and environment where they live and work, while upholding the commitment of always doing the right thing, the right way.
While every company has a culture, some are created by design, and some are the result of neglecting to design. Those that are successful are the ones purposely designed to meet the needs of the business
Voya encourages employees to volunteer by providing paid time off to participate in community activities during regular work hours. In 2018, 63 percent of Voya’s employee population volunteered with nonprofit partners to build homes, mentor children and young adults in career advancement and financial literacy, revitalize green spaces in their community and package meals for those less fortunate.
Further, ethics practices establish a strong cultural foundation and roadmap for enforcing and implementing legal and ethical policies and procedures for decision-making by employees in multiple business and personal settings. A company’s commitment to ethical business practices provides us all with the ability and willingness to be held accountable for our actions.
Part of ethics at Voya is maintaining integrity and fairness in the workplace, and as a result Voya has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® for six consecutive years.
3. Implementing a top-down approach to Diversity & Inclusion:
Your workforce should be reflective of your customer base. A mistake that many organizations make is bringing in people with differences and hammering out the differences so that they fit within a certain framework. What they don’t understand is that diversity at a company is not just employing different people, because, even if you do that, the company can still not have a diverse culture and employees who don’t feel like they fit in will leave.
Diversity cannot happen without direct commitment and investment, and Voya has that at all levels, starting with our board of directors and senior management.
As an example, we enable our employees to put diversity to action by joining an Employee Resource Group, doing ice breakers with their teams and getting involved in volunteer programs, contests and campaigns — all of which our leaders actively sponsor and get involved in.
We also have an unprecedented commitment to all employees’ needs. We understand our employees are very different so we provide a broad range of policies and programs that can be customized to everyone’s individual situations.
4. Providing employees with governance and performance management tools to succeed
A company should ensure that its workforce works in a cohesive way, and that its employees understand their contribution to the company’s success. Fostering an intellectually curious workforce where employees are expected to learn, adapt and seek out skills to remain relevant in today’s evolving workplace is essential to keeping them engaged, while driving the business strategy.
At Voya, a huge component of what makes our culture unique is our focus on “how” we’re going to achieve objectives, not just “what” we want to achieve. Our focus on the “how” means ensuring that the culture is designed so that employees are engaged in working toward the same common cause and that our behaviors help drive our financial performance. For example, we have a common leadership model, which outlines leadership behaviors for all, and we promote and reward the right leadership behaviors.
5. Providing a supportive work environment and overall great place to work
It is important that companies embed culture in every aspect of their business strategy. It ensures that employees are continually engaged. It is also important to reward employees for their behaviors, for example, promote those who demonstrate and support company values.
At Voya, we focus on recruiting the right, diverse talent, and ensuring they understand the opportunities at Voya that will help them prosper in their careers. We look for the right fit for the right role at the right time. We also look for candidates who have transferable skills for long-term investment in their growth. We don’t fill boxes at Voya—we bring people in for careers and grow them across the organization.
We look at their aspirations and challenge them, and this approach helps create a “One Voya” concept. And, we provide them with the necessities to ensure they are happy, challenged and able to grow, including competitive pay, retirement benefits and mentoring programs.
The efforts that go into building a purposefully designed culture ensures that employees are continually engaged and can achieve their maximum potential within the company, and the community. This type of culture empowers employees to be high performers and as a result they will relentlessly focus on customers and business results.
Once this type of culture is designed, it opens up opportunities for continual recognition by third parties for being a great workplace, like Voya, as well as a great sense of employee pride to work at your organization.