8 Lessons for Growing Employee Engagement

8 Lessons for Growing Employee Engagement

Recently, Glassdoor hosted an event in Toronto as part of their Best Places to Work Roadshow and invited Earls Kitchen + Bar, HubSpot, and Ceridian to speak on employee engagement, culture, and what makes each of our organization's Best Places to Work.

At the event Ceridian shared its story on the growth of our engaged culture; the reasons for our growth and the steps we took to reach this point, earning awards and recognition for employee engagement, are important and worth repeating here.

Our story on employee engagement does not start with a rosy picture, as we told the Roadshow audience; it starts back in 2013, when our culture was quite different, described as low energy, lacking in innovation, with values that were not understood. On Glassdoor we had a 2.2 rating. Not a great score.

Responding to this challenge, we made employee engagement our top priority. Not as a pet project for our CHRO but a priority for myself and all levels of senior management. We believed strongly in the link between employee engagement, customer experience, and product excellence.

In other words, when our employees were really engaged, they’d bring an enthusiasm and passion that would transform our customer experience; with engaged employees spreading their enthusiasm with every customer interaction, our customers would have better experiences with us. Satisfied customers would then give us the mandate to drive further changes to our product and deliver excellence.

Put even simpler, you have to be engaged to be excellent.

We embarked on an engagement journey that successfully transformed us to a highly engaged workplace delivering real success, learning several lessons along the way.

Here then are our top eight lessons on growing employment engagement:

1. Encourage open communication. I regularly host town hall meetings in an open forum format so our employees and I have a chance to talk. I travel to all of our locations – even the long trek to our Mauritius office – so that we can be face to face as much as possible. In addition, we work on making management accessible, host focus groups, conduct leadership summits and arrange off-site team meetings all to engender communication. I also end all of my meetings with my e-mail address so everyone at Ceridian has direct access.

2. Conduct regular employee engagement surveys. Twice a year we have a formal survey on employee engagement to discover what the triggers of engagement and disengagement are among the workforce. We communicate the results, both the good and the bad, back to our employees. It’s key to share the bad results along with the good, so those employees who are struggling with something know their voice was heard. Out of this survey we identify and develop programs for the top opportunities and then report back on their progress.

3. Align values with your brand promise. What are your values? They need to be clearly defined and promoted. For Ceridian, this culminated in the publication of Our Way, a set of core values around our brand promise: Makes Work Life Better. We trained our leaders on Our Way and our values and incorporated them into how we manage the business.

4. Measure adoption of company values. Once we had our values aligned and promoted, we went out and measured the adoption of them, validating the understanding of our brand and values among our employees. This helped us to measure the communication and roll-out effectiveness, capture employee sentiments, and learn how to recognize and reinforce their adoption.

5. Build better teams with communication and trust. We’re proud to drink our own champagne, as the saying goes, so when it comes to building better teams we turned to TeamRelate, one of our products. TeamRelate helps people learn about their communication styles and core values, and those of their team members, providing everyone with tips on how to better interact with their colleagues. We encourage our people to use the daily check-in functionality to communicate their engagement levels; again this information, shared, can be quite helpful for the inner workings of teams.

6. Manage your employer brand. Your employer brand is used by more than just prospective employees; although it does help to recruit top talent that will resonate with your culture, we have learned it is often used in vendor assessments too. This valuable aspect of the business requires active management; review the important and honest feedback you receive through Glassdoor and act on it if you expect your employer brand to excel.

7. Make the workplace a fun place to be. Create opportunities for fun. We have hosted board games nights, sponsored co-ed sports teams, held shuffleboard tournaments, indulged in our collective sweet tooth with birthday cakes and candy grams for Valentine’s, judged gingerbread house decorating contests – and that’s just at one office. We encourage each location through their Fun@Work committees of employee volunteers to come up with their own initiatives and then ensure they are appropriately funded.

8. Contribute to the communities you work in. We created our charity, Ceridian Cares and The PayBack Foundation, to provide financial assistance and basic necessities to families and individuals in communities local to Ceridian offices in Canada and the UK, while in the United States we partner with the United Way. We support our employees’ volunteer efforts in a variety of ways, often tying Fun@Work events to fundraising campaigns and giving every employee a paid day off to volunteer at a charity of their choice.

The results of Ceridian’s engagement journey show the efforts are worth it. Employee engagement has been up every year, with more employees responding that they are fully engaged or engaged, and less saying they’re under engaged or disengaged year after year.

Fitting then that Ceridian earned a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, recognizing the Best Places to Work in 2016, something to take pride in after all these efforts.


David Ossip is Ceridian’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He is the driving force behind the innovation, vision and leadership at Ceridian, one of the fastest growing Human Capital Management technology companies.