A global merger realigns a company’s appreciation approach.
Client focus. Operational performance. Market leadership. All are drivers of success for the $5 billion Fortune 500 banking and payments technologies provider FIS. But ask its clients what really makes the difference, and they say, “It’s the people.”
In an industry in which 24/7 connectivity is key and technological advances happen quickly, FIS teams have to be ready to operate and innovate on a daily basis. Employees at all levels need to feel connected as they collaborate to respond to issues and focus on product innovations.
Creating a culture that makes employees feel appreciated and engaged has been a top priority for FIS. For President and CEO Frank Martire, that meant setting a course to align with what matters most.
“It’s about recognizing what our employees do for us, that they truly make a difference. It’s about being able to tell them when a client calls and says, ‘You know what? Because of the efforts of your employees, we’re a better bank or financial institution.’ That’s what the employees want to know,” says Martire.
Following the largest acquisition in company history, FIS leadership was faced with merging diverse cultures and reengaging employees to deliver a consistent global experience for FIS’ clients.
“We rebranded the company and tried to create a single, global FIS culture,” explains Michael Oates, chief human resources officer. “We created five guiding principles, one of which is employee engagement. And, it’s employee engagement that has really formed the foundation of all the efforts that we’ve taken on in the past two years to create the FIS culture that we have today.”
To help identify a starting point and bring together its employee engagement efforts, FIS partnered with O.C. Tanner to develop a recognition strategy aligned with its five guiding principles. An early employee engagement survey was conducted and revealed that if FIS was committed to employee engagement, the company needed to improve in key areas. These included more communication, transparency, and a greater demonstration that the company cared about its employees.
Using recognition as the cornerstone of all its efforts, a comprehensive blueprint was designed and implemented. The resulting strategy created a vehicle that brought effective appreciation to the day-to-day experience of all employees. Whether it’s recognizing a simple job well done or a nomination for an employee’s significant impact, there are aligned tools available for employees to thank each other or for managers to demonstrate their appreciation for their team.
“We actually took action right away based on what people were thinking and feeling at the time of the merger,” says Lisa Sweeney, VP, employee engagement and HR. “It helped us identify how we could better communicate and how we could better build trust. We had just rolled out a new brand to our external and internal markets and we were able to focus on that based on the feedback from the survey.—then roll out some very specific new tools around appreciation and recognition for the entire company.”
Seeking Global Alignment
O.C. Tanner’s solution designers worked closely with FIS leaders to create a fully aligned, branded recognition platform. In October 2010, “FIS Is You” was launched as the global resource to commend employees for service milestones, going above and beyond, and client compliments.
The launch was supported by extensive communication through email campaigns and training with on-site demos 2,400 managers and supervisors. In 2012, this platform is available in five languages, making it easier for 32,000 employees to use and reinforce FIS brand values.
“What we’ve tried to do through the FIS Is You tool is to create a uniform opportunity for recognition, employee-to-employee, manager-to-employee,” explains Oates. “And, that’s become one of the real cornerstones of the engagement process along with communication and improvement of opportunity and well-being.”
But FIS engagement efforts don’t stop there. There are localized programs aimed at identifying superior talent achieving results (STAR) employees over a monthly or a quarterly period. Plus every spring, the company hosts FIS Day—a one-day, global celebration designed for every location to hear the same company message. Translated into multiple languages, this message celebrates the accomplishments of the year and speaks to future initiatives. FIS also hosts a week-long employee appreciation event that focuses on having celebrations at different locations as another way to express thanks to its 32,000 employees. And, to further promote transparency and trust, an online Q&A forum called CEO Corner allows employees to submit questions to Martire, who in turn posts his answers online for other employees to see.
It’s clear that Martire’s decision to focus on recognition and strengthen internal communications has made a difference at FIS. The numbers from an employee engagement survey tell a powerful story, but no more so than the number of people who took the survey. Survey responses increased from 50 to 84 percent.
What’s equally significant, a Towers Watson global study found that when an organization was able to improve their engagement scores by 15 percent, they would also see a 2 percent improvement in their operating margin. FIS engagement scores rose 16 percent, corresponding with significant improvements to its bottom line.
“At the same time we’ve focused on our employee engagement efforts, we continued to improve, continued to grow—and have seen larger returns for our shareholders, our company, and our people” says Martire.
Employees are also reporting a difference. “Being recognized makes me feel appreciated,” says Ned Eremija, technology services manager, technology services and support. “It makes me want to try harder, makes me want to continue to do whatever I can to make my team, my boss, and FIS overall more successful.”
Amer Numan, senior database analyst, community banking solutions, agrees. “When you’re standing in a room and you get mentioned … to stand up and walk in front of your peers and shake hands with the division manager and receive something material [to] put it on your desk, it feels different. People look at you differently after that gathering and that’s what motivates you to do more,” he says.
Continuing to Evolve
Measuring employee engagement is something FIS takes very seriously.
“Given the fact that we are a global company, we have to put surveys in multiple languages,” explains Gary Norcross, chief operating officer. “We make sure we’re not inundating our people, but we get the constructive feedback we need on a yearly basis. It’s the combination of day-to-day interaction, town hall meetings, and various work sessions with the annual engagement survey. We proactively go into our planning process and say, ‘What are the differences that we can make based on what people are telling us?’ ”
Two years is a short time to have made such an impact. For Martire, who personally championed employee engagement as a core value because it has a very personal meaning to him, the key is to continue to listen, improve and keep moving forward.
“When you look at appreciation [and] the role it plays in the company, it doesn’t end, it’s continuous,” concludes Martire. “Appreciation and recognizing our employees is something we’ll always do and try to always do a better job at it. If our employees see that we care enough to make sure that we know what they think of us and their feelings, and that we address their feelings both the positive and negative, and we do it with full transparency, they’ll continue to believe in us and we’ll continue to make it a better company.”
A global merger realigns a company’s appreciation approach.